Skeleton Picnic by Michael Norman
A J.D. Books Mystery (J.D. Books Series)

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Third generation Kanab residents Rolly and Abigail Rogers come from a long line of dedicated pot hunters who scour the desert southwest in search of valuable antiquities. When the Utah couple fails to return from a weekend skeleton picnic, (pot hunting trip) along the desolate Arizona Strip, local Sheriff Charley Sutter turns to BLM Law Enforcement Ranger J.D. Books for help.

When Books searches the missing couple’s home for clues about their disappearance, he discovers the house has been burglarized and a valuable collection of ancient Anasazi and Fremont Indian antiquities stolen. Soon a search and rescue operation finds the Rogers’ truck and trailer at an abandoned campsite near an ancient Anasazi ruin that has been recently excavated. Footprints and other evidence lead Books to conclude that the couple may have been overpowered by a small group of unknown assailants.

Sheriff Sutter assigns an attractive young deputy, Beth Tanner, to investigate the burglary of the Rogers’ home under the watchful eye of Books. Together they track some of the stolen property to a pawn shop in St. George, and ultimately to a young Navajo man with a criminal record. Keeping this man alive long enough to make him talk, however, proves difficult.

Books and Tanner soon learn of a shadowy group of armed Indian police who patrol vast swaths of tribal and federal lands in search of anyone desecrating ancient Native American burial sites. They also discover several recent unsolved cases in the Four Corners region where individuals disappeared into the desert wilderness under suspicious circumstances, never to be heard from again. Could the disappearance of the Rogers, and others, be the responsibility of this group?

As Books and Tanner close in on those responsible, Books’ own survival skills will be tested when he is unwittingly drawn into a remote part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. There he is forced into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, where the hunter becomes the hunted, and only one person gets to go home alive.

About Michael Norman

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Michael Norman lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife Diane, and their two pit bulls, Eddie and Joyce (Michael is the two-legged one). On Deadly Ground Norman's third novel, begins the JD Books Series. The Skeleton Picnic is book two. Norman is the author of Silent Witness (2008) and The Commission, one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2007.
Published April 1, 2012 by Poisoned Pen Press. 257 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Skeleton Picnic

Publishers Weekly

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People’s distrust of the federal government figures prominently in Norman’s atmospheric second mystery featuring Bureau of Land Management ranger J.D. Books of Kanab, Utah (after 2010’s On Deadly Grou

Apr 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books...


When Books gets inside, he finds that the Rogers cat has been killed and is lying in a pool of blood.

Aug 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books...

Deseret News

In his new book, “Skeleton Picnic,” Utah author Michael Norman returns to the beautiful deserts of southern Utah and the adventurous life of BLM Ranger, J.D.

May 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books...

Seattle PI

Your California Privacy Rights |

Jul 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books...

Mysterious Reviews

Books is tasked with finding a missing couple along the vast and largely deserted Arizona/Utah border in Skeleton Picnic, the second mystery in this series by Michael Norman.Although it is against the law to be “pot hunters” — searching for valuable Indian artifacts and bones in the desert Southw...

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Monsters and Critics

One of his backup dancers rushed him to the hospital where the doctors then performed multiple tests for brain activity and the situation is allegedly not looking too good.

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Norman, in trying for verisimilitude, includes long conversations about who has jurisdiction over the case, long talks between Books and Tanner about clues, and other scenes that could have been trimmed to speed up the action.

Jul 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books...

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