The Tender Mercy of Roses

The Tender Mercy of Roses

Now in paperback, the acclaimed debut novel featuring the ghost of a murdered cowgirl who guides her grief-stricken father and a disgraced former detective to her killer—and a long-hidden family secret.

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.
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439181003 | 
  • December 2012
List Price $21.99 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Tender Mercy of Roses includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Anna Michaels. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


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.


  1. 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?
  2. 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
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About the Author

Anna Michaels

Anna Michaels lives in the deep South, where her own rose garden served as her inspiration for The Tender Mercy of Roses, her debut novel. She also writes mysteries under the name Peggy Webb. Visit her at