The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
A Novel of Suspense

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Small Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger scours his father’s pasture, looking for helpless newborn calves. Then he makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl, her skin as white as the snow around her. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. It is a moment that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. The mysterious dead girl–the “Virgin of Small Plains”–inspires local reverence. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave; some even believe that her spirit can cure deadly illnesses. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

But what really happened in that snow-covered field? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the Virgin’s body was found, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds? Why do the town’s three most powerful men–Dr. Quentin Reynolds, former sheriff Nathan Shellenberger, and Judge, Tom Newquist–all seem to be hiding the details of that night?

Seventeen years later, when Mitch suddenly returns to Small Plains, simmering tensions come to a head, ghosts that had long slumbered whisper anew, and the secrets that some wish would stay buried rise again from the grave of the Virgin. Abby–never having resolved her feelings for Mitch–is now determined to uncover exactly what happened so many years ago to tear their lives apart.

Three families and three friends, their worlds inexorably altered in the course of one night, must confront the ever-unfolding consequences in award-winning author Nancy Pickard’s remarkable novel of suspense. Wonderfully written and utterly absorbing, The Virgin of Small Plains is about the loss of faith, trust, and innocence . . . and the possibility of redemption.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Nancy Pickard

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Nancy Pickard is a four-time Edgar Award nominee, most recently for her Ballantine debut, The Virgin of Small Plains. She is the winner of the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and three Agatha Awards. Her short stories have also won numerous accolades. Pickard has been a national board member of the Mystery Writers of America and president of Sisters in Crime, and she is a member of PEN. She lives in Merriam, Kansas.From the Hardcover edition.
Published April 18, 2006 by Ballantine Books. 370 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Virgin of Small Plains

Kirkus Reviews

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Accomplished mystery writer Pickard (The Truth Hurts, 2002, etc.) skillfully exposes insidious elements in a small town.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Virgin of Small Plains: A...

Publishers Weekly

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Later, Nathan and Dr. Quentin "Doc" Reynolds bash the girl's face to an unrecognizable pulp, since they know who she is and fear that either Patrick or Rex's best friend, 17-year-old Mitch Newquist, is her killer.

Mar 20 2006 | Read Full Review of The Virgin of Small Plains: A...

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Suite 101

With two other unsolved murders and racial tension rising, is this town still a safe haven?

Feb 02 2007 | Read Full Review of The Virgin of Small Plains: A...

For me, the book is going on my list as one of the best books published in 2006 Oddly, the thing that stands out most, although there are few weaknesses in this book, is Pickard's ability with pacing.

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