Book of the Week: The Bones of Paradise – Jonis Agee

This dark, intricate family saga takes place in the Nebraska Sand Hills ten years after the Wounded Knee massacre of the Lakota Sioux. Like our bestselling novel The Son, Bones of Paradise gives readers a tense, immersive look at frontier history and the often violent interplay of Native and white culture through the story of a murder and one family’s blood soaked sense of destiny.

The book received two starred advance reviews and is an Indie Next pick. It’s ideal for readers looking for a big American novel fueled by passion, loyalty and betrayal–and with a flawless sense for the history of place.

 “Hoping to reunite his family and win back his wife, Dulcinea, rancher J.B. Bennett is on his way to retrieve his older son, Cullen, from his father, Drum, who has raised the 19-year-old for 10 years. When J.B. stops to examine the body of a recently strangled young Lakota Sioux named Star, someone he evidently knows shoots him dead….Agee doesn’t scrimp on gruesome detail in recounting the [Wounded Knee] massacre attended by most of the novel’s male characters…This sexy, violent, intricate Western is ultimately a love letter to the Sand Hills, ‘where all was alive, all living, in one form or another.’”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Agee’s emotionally rich tale is as wild and sprawling as the Midwestern plains….The evolving friendship of Dulcinea and Rose is a poignant counterpoint to the cruelties born of ignorance and greed in the face of cultural difference. The story’s several parts—gritty Western, family saga, mystery—work together for a memorable tale of heartbreak and redemption.”
Publishers Weekly

 “A haunting tale . . . Agee brilliantly interweaves two stories of loss, guilt, and vengeance, which play out against the vivid backdrop of the [Nebraska] Sand Hills . . . Beautifully rendered and thought-provoking.”
Booklist (starred review)

The harsh and unrelenting weather and landscape of northern Nebraska mirrors the hard and desperate lives of its inhabitants in this powerful historical novel set in the aftermath of Wounded Knee.  A murder forces the Bennett family to confront its troubled history which reflects the larger problems of the entire western expansion and society.  The beauty of the language creates a stunning portrait of a momentous and often brutal era.”
— Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

“A sweeping historical novel set in the raw Nebraska ranch lands during the decade following the massacre at Wounded Knee. Life for ranchers and surviving Indians was riddled with chaos, deceit and violence. In this setting the author serves up a compelling tale of power struggles within the multigenerational Bennett family. While they fight with each other they also struggle to solve a murder and battle outsiders who want to gain oil and mineral rights to their land.  Moving back and forth in time and between characters the story pulls you in as pieces of the mysteries fall into place. Much of the strength of the novel comes from vivid descriptions of the surroundings as well the perfectly tuned internal dialogue of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed being captivated by the Bennett family saga and the engrossing spell of this masterful blend of history and mystery.”
— Sharon Gambin, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

The Bones of Paradise (9780062413475) by Jonis Agee. $25.99 hardcover. 8/2/16 on sale.

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