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The Bones of Paradise
Set in the Nebraska ranch lands during the decade after the massacre at Wounded Knee this sweeping historical novel is filled with unsolved mysteries, vivid landscapes and conflicts of every kind. During this tumultuous time period life for the ranchers and remaining Indians was riddled with mistrust and violence.
In this setting the author serves up a compelling tale of power struggles within the multigenerational Bennett family. While estranged family members fight with one another they also struggle to solve multiple murders and battle outsiders who strive to gain oil and mineral rights to the Bennett land. Told in alternating time periods and from the view points of various characters, the story pulls you in as pieces of the mysteries fall into place. Much of the strength of the novel is derived from the vivid representations of the historical conflicts of the time and the perfectly tuned internal dialogue of the characters as they deal with long-standing personal conflicts.
I was thoroughly captivated by the Bennett family saga and its engrossing, masterful blend of history and mystery.
— From Sharon's Picks
“Agee presents the saga of the Bennett family in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee. Formed and altered by the unforgiving Nebraska Sandhills, the Bennetts are a rough, conflicted lot, and their story is filled with secrets, lies, betrayals, vengeance, and murder. Agee evokes a lost world and time without sentiment, but with a beautiful subtlety interrupted only by the true horrors of well-researched fact. A must-read for lovers of Western literature, family sagas, and historical fiction.”
— Amanda Hurley (W), Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee—an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.
Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.
At the center of The Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea, returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister, Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.
A kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this magnificent, blood-soaked land—its sweeping prairies, seas of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and lawlessness—and the durable men and women who dared to tame it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality, tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the American West.