Twenty years after a bout of vandalism ends in the brutal beating of a young Indian, a young man returns to the sandhills of Nebraska to face his past.
Twenty years later, Ty is living in Kansas, where he owns a small, hard-won farm and trades horses for a living. He's made a sober, reasonably successful life for himself, but is still haunted by the repercussions of his past--which include an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Then one day Ty picks up a mysterious woman named Dakota along with a load of horses, and the past comes knocking on his door in the form of Harney Rivers. Before the novel is through, Ty will have to make amends for the crimes of his youth--and in the process, redefine what it means to go home. Gritty depictions of ranch life; lyrical evocations of the stark Nebraska landscape; a romance that feels both passionate and true: there is much to admire here, even when the entire package feels somewhat overlong. For one thing, Agee evokes the horse life so vividly that you can practically smell it--and among her characters, only the impossibly evil Harney comes off as less than true-to-life. In the end, flaws like these count for little when weighed against Agee's vivid portrait of place. --Chloe Byrne
The author sustains all these threads by interconnecting them with considerable suspense and tension. It's like film noir - dark, brooding, always on the verge of violence or mischance. And under that interplay of tensions is a moral vision that seems often at the point of being lost completely.
Agee populates her novel with a large cast of characters, using shifting points of view to explore their unfolding relationships and internal lives. With the focus of a short-story writer, she introduces and opens up incidents that seem to bring the narrative almost to a stop, while we wait to learn how these scenes take their place in the larger picture embracing all of them. While some readers may find the pace of the novel somewhat slow because of this, I was fascinated by the richness of detail and would have been happy for even more, especially exploring the resolution of the central conflict of the narrative - between its protagonist, Ty Bonte, and his nemesis, Harney Rivers.
I'm happy to recommend this book. Like other reviewers familiar with the terrain and seasons of the Nebraska Sandhills, I was pleased to see this rolling region of the Great Plains and its people represented so faithfully and in an engaging story told by a gifted writer.