“Engrossing . . . beautifully written and carefully crafted . . . [a] work that explores the healing power of truth.”—The Boston Globe
For seventeen years, a rural community in Kansas has faithfully tended the grave of an anonymous teenage girl christened the Virgin of Small Plains. And some claim that, perhaps owing to the girl’s intervention, strange miracles and unexplainable healings have occurred. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.
But what really happened in that snow-covered field almost two decades ago, when the girl’s naked, frozen body was found? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the shocking discovery, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds, and their best friend, Rex Shellenberger?
Now Mitch has returned to Small Plains, reigniting simmering tensions and awakening secrets. Never having resolved her feelings for Mitch, Abby is determined to uncover the startling truth about his departure. The three former friends must confront the ever-unfolding consequences of the night that forever changed their lives—and the life of their small town.
Praise for The Virgin of Small Plains
“Nancy Pickard . . . has evolved into a writer of substantial literary power. . . . [She] has fashioned a novel that accurately reflects the secrets and silences locked deep within the hearts of all small-town Midwesterners.”—The Denver Post
“Tantalizing . . . Pickard writes with insight and compassion about an unresolved crime that continues to haunt a farming community.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A class act . . . Pickard has a talent for adding depth to a story that conveys a sense of place and history.”—Orlando Sentinel
“Crisply written, this new novel about loss of faith, trust, and innocence is utterly absorbing.”—Tucson Citizen
Pickard (Storm Warnings) probes the truth behind miracles and the tragedies behind lies in this mesmerizing suspense novel set in Kansas. While rounding up newborn calves during a 1987 blizzard, Nathan Shellenberger, sheriff of Small Plains, and his teenage sons, Rex and Patrick, discover the naked frozen body of a beautiful teenage girl. 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. Witnessing this terrible scene is Mitch, hidden in Doc's home office supply closet where he's gone for a condom to use with Abby, Doc's 16-year-old daughter. Mitch's father, a judge, forces Mitch to leave town after the boy admits what he saw. In 2004, Abby and Rex now the sheriff find another blizzard victim, Mitch's mother, dead near the marker commemorating the still-unidentified "virgin." Readers may wish the author supplied more detail about the dead girl's background, but some cleverly planted surprises and the convincing portrait of smalltown life make this a memorable read.