Books by Robert F. Jones

Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"Hunters and fishermen who don't mind the sloppy plot and undeveloped cast will enjoy the precision and passion that Jones (Deadville, 1998, etc.) puts into what really matters: hooking a fish, guns, and the art of packing supplies."
Two men take the same canoe trip twice, once after graduating from high school, then 50 years later as their lives are winding down. Read full book review >
DEADVILLE by Robert F. Jones
Released: May 15, 1998

Historically authentic detail is a hallmark of Jones's Western fiction (Tie My Bones to Her Back, 1996, etc.)—and he is as well a gifted bird-hunter and ornithologist (Dangers in the Sunset Sky, 1996). This time out, he goes for the jugular, creating a bloodthirsty thriller full of spurting action, murder, big-bladed knives and flying lead, a scenic canvas besprinkled with figures in a kind of super-realist, Bruegelesque folk art that gives equal play to man and oppressive landscape and shows things as they really were—with zip sentimentality—in the second half of the 19th century. Within this episodic chronicle of driving carnage, the friendship of Capts. Dillon Griffith and James Pierson Beckwourth highlights a survey of human endeavor in the Great American West, including the rise and decline of the fur trade. Jones's raw, lyric voice is all his own, and can both disturb and shock. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 26, 1996

A medley of well-crafted essays and short stories highlights one man's lifelong love affair with bird hunting. Jones, a novelist and former Sports Illustrated staffer, writes for hunting magazines like Sports Afield and Gray's Sporting Journal. No surprise, then, that much of his nonfiction reads less like essays than magazine articles. But even the most topical, how- to piece, like ``America's Bird,'' mixes history, ornithology, and autobiography with Jones's turkey hunting dos and don'ts, adding a savory-sounding recipe for roast wild gobbler to boot. ``D-Day In Maryland'' surpasses simple instruction to capture the mythic atmosphere and tradition of wingshooting at a Chesapeake Bay hunting club. So skillfully does it pinpoint the delicious anticipation of opening day, when ``like a kid on the cusp of summer vacation, you can look ahead to a whole long string of seemingly endless weeks,'' that it might serve as an exemplar for the sporting essay, which exists primarily to help hunters through the long dark night of the soul known as off-season. The two short stories, ``Are You Lonesome Tonight?'' and ``In the Drowned Lands,'' though mere tales, crackle with crisp action and keen description, signifying authority of experience. Jones touches all the bases the sporting genre demands—his writing is chock-full of larger-than-life characters, both human and canine; he pays due to the aesthetics of the hunt: the thrill of the chase, the satisfaction mingled with regret when a bird is brought to hand. Yet a preoccupation with the kill risks marring the book with a stunted, adolescent feel by creating the misconception that Jones hasn't outgrown the stage of hunting that measures success by body count, rather than quality of time spent afield. A trifle bloodthirsty, but lively and genuine. (line art) Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1996

Jones favors vividly observed wilderness settings for his fiction (Blood Tide, 1990, etc.), and this latest novel is no exception. It's set in the American West during the last days of the old frontier—when the slaughter of buffalo is ending one way of life to make room for another. In Wisconsin in 1873, Jenny Dousmann awakens one morning to a life radically altered by the nation's financial panic, as her mother follows her father in suicide at the threat of losing their farm. Her buffalo-hunting brother Otto comes home to settle family affairs, and Jenny decides to return west with him, unmoved by warnings of danger and deprivation. Joining him, his partner Raleigh, and their two skinners—the half-breed Tom and the southern cracker Milo—as the camp cook, she's content with her new lot until fate intervenes. Milo and Otto are attacked by Indians, but the southerner runs, returning to camp with a tale of Otto's death. Then Jenny saves Tom's life when the white men turn on him, only to be raped by them when he escapes. She rides off to search for Otto, finding him alive just before a howling blizzard descends; afterward, he's saved from death only when Tom persuades his Indian friends to take severely frostbitten Otto to an Army fort for care. He loses an arm, and his will to live, but Jenny takes him with her to stay with Tom's people, the Cheyenne, with whom she and Otto find respect and a new life. On a mission to sacred Buffalo Butte to save the buffalo, they encounter Raleigh and Milo, now serving as guides to a foppish English nobleman and his entourage, and old scores are settled with bloody finality. No major variations here on the noble savage theme, and no significant depth of character, but substantial research and sharp detail give this an arresting authenticity. Read full book review >