THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS (Suspense-Kansas-Cont) – Ex Pickard, Nancy – Standalone
Ballantine Books, 2006- Hardcover

During the winter of 1987 in Small Plains, Kansas, Rex Shellenberger, while looking for newborn calves, finds the body of a beautiful, dead girl whom he recognizes. Mitch Newquist and Abby Reynolds are teenagers who’ve been in love for years and have decided to finally become intimate. But the next morning, Mitch is gone and it claimed the girl’s face had been beaten so badly she couldn’t be identified. Now, in 2004, Rex is now Sheriff, Abby still doesn’t know what happened to Mitch and locals claim the buried “Virgin” can cause miracles. But secrets have a way of coming out and the time has come for answers.

This was so well done. I started it in the evening and it was very late when I finished as I wasn’t going to bed until it was done. It’s a bit of a romance, a bit of a gothic, but mainly a mystery of family secrets. The story is meticulously plotted with all of my “but what about” questions answers and threads tied. Pickard makes the reader feel as though they are a resident of this small Midwestern town and her use of the weather to create atmosphere and suspense is very well done. The story stayed with me long after finishing the book and that, to me, is one sign of an excellent book.

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