The Tender Mercy of Roses
The celebrated novel from a shimmering new voice in Southern fiction, Anna Michaels
At twenty-six, Pony Jones is a record-breaking legend of the rodeo circuit. And when the beloved young star’s body is discovered in the northern Alabama woods, it’s Pony’s spirit—invisible to the eye but not to the sixth sense—that guides the living to clues to her murder. Swept up in a whirlwind mystery of intense emotion are her grief-stricken father, Titus, bent on retribution; and Jo Beth Dawson, a hard-drinking former detective with an otherworldly connection with Pony—and an urgent compulsion to uncover the truth. The Huntsville rodeo leads Jo Beth to Titus, and what the unlikely partners find is more shocking than murder itself: long-buried family secrets that will bring them to search their souls for redemption . . . and tie the three of them closer than they could imagine.
Reading Group Guide
Set on the rural border of Tennessee and Alabama, The Tender Mercy of Roses chronicles the murder and search for the killer of popular rodeo cowgirl Pony Jones. Pony is found in the northern Alabama woods amidst ethereal circumstances with white Cherokee roses covering her body. Furthermore, the woman who discovers Pony’s body, Jo Beth Dawson, was once a well-respected detective in the very town where Pony was murdered. Haunted by Pony’s ghost, Jo Beth undertakes the journey of a lifetime to find Pony’s murderer and come to terms with her own past.
QUESTIONS & TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
- The novel opens with the ghost of Pony narrating the circumstances of her death. What is your initial reaction to Pony’s character? Do you like her? What do you learn about her life? About her murder?
- Discuss the signs from the universe that tell Titus his daughter has died. What do you make of these primal images? Do you connect them to Pony’s mo