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The Bones of Paradise

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  756 ratings  ·  150 reviews
The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multi-generational family saga, set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sandhills 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.

Hardcover, 417 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by William Morrow
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  756 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the hills grudges never died, they remained as they took place, as the words were uttered, since there was nowhere for them to go, nothing to break them apart, the soft edges of the hills offered nothing hard enough to smash the anger, nothing sharp enough to cut through the Gordian knot, so it lived fresh, undeniable as the first day. In the hills there were only first days, no history. Nothing was allowed to die. They marked time by the growing list of wrongs until its weight pulled them
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
My God, how we are destroyed

man, this is one meaty book.

and it took me forever to read. not because it was boring; it's not that at all. it's just that it moves at a slow, deliberate pace and there are a lot of storylines to absorb, where each character is given their own manifest destiny-style room to expand and develop. the characters are particularly well-written here; at first there are good guys and bad guys (where "guys" is a gender-neutral term) and questionable decisions made by all, bu
Angela M
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it

I'm not a fan of mysteries or crime stories, but I am a big fan of family sagas and historical fiction so it was this part of the book description that piqued my interest. It takes place in the Sand Hills of Nebraska in 1900, a decade after the horrific and shameful event in American history , the massacre at Wounded Knee. While time has passed, what happened at Wounded Knee is ever present in the flashbacks, in the thoughts of a slimy character who took part in it, but most of all in the heart
Diane S ☔
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Living in the sand hills of Nebraska takes a huge amount of determination, grit, and a love of the land. For Dulcinea and JB it was a place to ranch, raise a family and plan a future until it became instead a place where Dulcinea would loose her sons and run from her husband. There is of course a heartbreaking story behind this. She will return years later with plans to reclaim what was hers but will instead find her husband murdered and a young Indian woman alongside him. A man named Graver, wh ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it

The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on 29 December 1890 near Wounded Knee Creek. J.B. Bennett’s ranch is not terribly far from Wounded Knee. Ten years have passed since that horrible day as J.B. rides with the thoughts in his mind centered on his wife, Dulcinea, whom he hasn’t seen in some time, when he happens upon the lifeless body of a young Lakota girl, Star. He’s trying to figure out what to do about the girl, worrying about when this happened or who or why, when he sees Star’s murderer, a m
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marita by: Bill
It is ten years after the massacre at Wounded Knee (1890), and J.B. stumbles on the body of a young Lakota girl, Star. Within minutes J.B. himself is no more.

In this story of murder and revenge, written by prize winning author Jonis Agee, there are several likely candidates who could be the murderer. Is it perhaps the patriarch of the Bennett family, old Drum Bennett? Drum is not the nicest of people, and he also has a dodgy past. But then, what about his delinquent grandsons? They haven't had a
To be published by William Morrow August 2016, my thanks are extended to both the publisher and Edelweiss.

Sometimes hard to read due to the historical content referencing the massacre at Wounded Knee, The Bones of Paradise was well worth my unease. Ten years after this horrific and brutal event a young Native American Woman, Star and a rancher, J.B. Bennett are found murdered on Bennett's land. Bennett's wife, Dulcinea (love that name) and Star's sister, Rose, two strong women, are determined t
The Bones Of Time is a tale of two women during the aftermath of the Massacre of Wounded Knee in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in 1890, in which more or less 200 Indian people were shot by the 7th Cavalry of the US Army.

In the Sand Hills of JB Bennett's farm, a murdered Indian girl, named Star, is found dead, by JB, and upon investigation he gets shot as well. And so does Graver, who arrived upon the scene. But Graver survived.

In a slow moving story, spanning over historical fiction, murder mystery
This was a really excellent book. It's an historical novel set ten years after the battle at Wounded Knee ( actually it wasn't a battle, it was a massacre). At the beginning of the book, a rancher finds a dead Indian girl on his land and is almost immediately killed himself. Pretty much the rest of the book is devoted to finding out who committed these two murders. And you don't find out the answer until almost the last page of the book, which is just the way I like it.

As I said it's a great boo
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m not generally a reader of mysteries, and frankly, I’m not sure this novel can be billed as one. It is a fabulous conglomerate: a family saga, literary fiction, historical fiction, a love story, a western, and a mystery all wrapped into one.

Admittedly, the mystery component of ‘what really happened to JB and Star that fateful day?’ (no spoilers here) kept me turning pages. But what kept me the most rapt was that this novel is told almost exclusively by what ISN’T being said between characters
Two and a half stars, rounded up because of the beautiful descriptions of the Nebraska Sand Hills. I wanted to like this one and it has many elements that I usually enjoy: it's part family saga, part mystery with lots of historical detail. Sadly I found the non-linear story-telling rather annoying and I never liked any of the characters.
Oct 13, 2016 added it
Shelves: edelweiss, dnf, reviewed
I'm not a huge fan of westerns and I'm not the right person for this book. It was so slow moving and full of descriptions of the land and the horses. It would be perfect for the right audience, but not for me. I abandoned it at around the 30% point. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved the historical aspects of this book. The massacre at Wounded Knee was both fascinating and horrible to read about. It's so disturbing what people can do to each other. I found myself also frustrated at Dulcinea and her actions or lack thereof. What mother lets her child be taken from her and does not spend every minute trying to get them back? What kind of mother leaves her children? I realize times were different back then, but it still makes me want to smack someone. Overall, I liked t ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
She stooped to pick a wild pink rose, avoiding the tiny spines that slivered like unseen glass hairs onto one's fingers. There was little scent, but the creamy softness of the petals like the insides of a dog's ear more than made up for it. She placed one on her tongue, and imagined she could taste the hills, the bittersweet tang of life.

This book started beautiful. I was completely mesmerized by the gorgeous descriptions of the prairies of Western Nebraska and Western South Dakota and the c
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Bones of Paradise has a lot going for it. Set in the backdrop of the harsh 1800’s Nebraska Sand Hills, it is a western, family saga, and mystery all in one.

” J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman” are found murdered on the Bennett property. J.B.’s wife, Dulcinea who had left years ago returns after his death with her friend, Rose who is also Star’s sister. They both intend to find out who is responsible for their loved ones death. Then there is J.B.’s vicious fa
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This author knows Nebraska! If you want to feel and experience the beauty and wildness of the Sandhills without traveling to the middle of America just read this book and soak in the descriptions of the land. This is a story that will grab you because of the historical references to the massacre at Wounded Knee, the relationships of the characters and the nature and animals. Jonis Agee describes in perfect detail a horse going down, a flock of red winged black birds, the motion of Cowboys workin ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Historical fiction (the massacre at Wounded Knee), a mystery to solve (who murdered a native girl and a local rancher) with a distinctive literary fiction flavour. I loved the descriptions of Nebraska Sandhills, the author’s writing style and the well-defined and complex characters, each one adding a layer to the story.
There are a few parts involving violence but in their vivid descriptions, the author presented the facts without dwelling on them, it did not bother me but I thought I’d better m
Anna Henke
Riveting, brutal, and deeply powerful, this is the story of two families - one Lakota, one white - and the tragedy that links them. Agee has crafted a masterpiece with a plot that's as winding as her lyrical sentences. This story of vengeance, guilt, love, and betrayal is set ten years after the massacre at Wounded Knee, and the characters are as scarred as the land in which they dwell. I can't recommend this highly enough.

Read my full review at
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable well written story that any history buff would enjoy, and should read. This is a history -mystery -western set on a family ranch in Nebraska. This story is written in wonderful descriptive detail that makes it such an interesting read, and quite different than you would expect. Jonis Agee paints a beautiful picture in her story one that is hard to put down a mystery to the end.
I received my book from Goodreads Giveaways and William Morrow, thank you for this book.
Mary Jo
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is desolate and gritty yet strangely beautiful and riveting just like the Nebraska Sandhills where it is set. It is a harsh story and sometimes the cruelty of Wounded Knee was difficult to process even though it was not new info. The book really came alive for me as I had just driven through the Sandhills two weeks before I read it. I will remember this one for a long time.
nikkia neil
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Not far the faint of heart or casual reader unless you are willing to stick with it and learn alot about yourself and history. Epic
Narrative Muse
– After the West was won, The Bones of Paradise staggered on –

I was never a huge western fan growing up. Sure, I had some cowboy themed legos, and maybe a sherif badge, but most boys in the 1990s did. It wasn't until I first saw Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars that I took proper notice. No longer did the good guys wear white, while the villains wore black. Over the years, I watched the genre continue to evolve as the lines became even more blurred. Jonis Agee's (The River Wife, Acts of Lo
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This latest book by Jonis Agee was excellent - both entertaining and informational. Stories about the west (being from Idaho) are close to my heart. The Bones of Paradise showed the true independent
spirit of living in the West but was also informational about the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.
The drama of the Bennett and Some Horses families keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I don't find anything to critique except when is there a following saga?
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the beginning of the book but for me the plot seemed to meander around the middle and I started just skim reading by the end. The minute I “met”the murderer in the story I knew that would be the outcome so the so called mystery of the murders wasn’t intriguing. I liked the writing about the Sand Hills and the brief sections about Wounded Knee.
Camille McCarthy
Oct 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
The first five pages were written so badly that I felt no connection to the characters or the story, and I realized this was not worth my time. It reminded me of "the Gilded Hour" which was also horrible.
Jocelyn Healy
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read the book The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee during the month of February. I decided to pick up this book because I had read another book this past summer titled The River Wife by the same author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I usually choose books based off of recommendations from friends and peers but switched it up by deciding to read something that wasn’t recommended to me.

This book can be very easily given away so what I’ll say is that it’s an excellent mystery novel. It has a wonder
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a tough one. I liked the overarching story, liked the characters, and loved the setting and history, but the writing style just didn't suit me. It felt oddly scattered, like it jumped too much. There were more than several times where I had to page back and forth to make sure that I didn't miss a page. I honestly feel like I am missing parts of the story that's how jumpy it was. When people were thinking about the past there was very little to signify that this was the past and that t ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the language, setting, characters, theme, plot...everything really. It's a Western crime-mystery novel set on a family ranch, and it really hooks you in from the start. Each chapter is essentially a new character perspective, switching between the cast, and the clues that lead to what happened are elegantly laid out bit by bit. Highly recommended for the beautiful language and heartfelt characters.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a Goodreads win! Really liked the murder mystery/family saga/historical fiction story.
Set in the Nebraska landscape of Sand Hills, the era takes place a decade after Wounded Knee. Interesting interweaving of characters, loyalties, vengeance, race. Very glad I won this book.

Reread this one while snowed in. As good as the first read.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've never read a book quite like this. Savage, relentless; spiritual, with one hand in history & the other crushing your heart. I doubt the Wild West characters are much exaggerated. Makes one wonder when we'll finally settle our debts to each other.
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Bonner Springs Li...: The Bones of Paradise 1 1 Jul 18, 2018 11:19AM  
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Jonis owns twenty pairs of cowboy boots, some of them works of art, loves the open road, and believes that ecstasy and hard work are the basic ingredients of life and writing.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she grew up in Nebraska and Missouri, places where many of her stories and novels are set. She was educated at The University of Iowa (BA) and The State University of New York at Binghamton (MA, PhD).
“She stooped to pick a wild pink rose, avoiding the tiny spines that slivered like unseen glass hairs onto one's fingers. There was little scent, but the creamy softness of the petals like the insides of a dog's ear more than made up for it. She placed one on her tongue, and imagined she could taste the hills, the bittersweet tang of life.” 1 likes
“Dulcinea could not leave this land. She finally understood how the wind out here made a place for itself in your ear, in your mind, and in your heart, stilling your thoughts, making everything you see one vast wholeness: the swan gliding across the silent marsh, the mossy turtles climbing like ancient men out of the water, their claws gripping the soil with great effort to drag themselves despite the tangled water plants that dragged their yellow-scaled legs back, their ragged beaks parted with effort. She couldn’t think without the Sand Hills wind hushing the great world around her as she pushed herself into its embrace. Maybe a bad thing never died, as the men were fond of saying, and good lived but for a moment. This was a thing she could accept.” 0 likes
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