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The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345471008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345471000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Advance praise for The Virgin of Small Plains

“The Virgin of Small Plains will keep you up all night. Nancy Pickard’s intelligent, suspenseful storytelling never disappoints.”
–Julie Garwood

“Like the heart-stopping skid that sets it in motion, this book hurtles inexorably toward a startling conclusion. Along the way Nancy Pickard wrests magic from the everyday and redemption from broken dreams. The Virgin Of Small Plains is a beautiful and resonant book.”
–Carol Goodman, author of The Ghost Orchid

“An unforgettable tale of love, lust, faith, betrayal, and redemption. A powerful, mesmerizing suspense novel–a tour de force!”
–Judith Kelman, author of The Session

“A hold-your-breath suspense story–sexy, warm, and poignant, with aching loss and a human desire for miracles. Pickard’s best book yet.”
–Margaret Maron, author of Rituals of the Season




From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book grabs you from the get go and keeps you turning the page.
Stephy
Unfortunately I got progressively bored with the second half when the plot and characters began to seem unreal and ridiculous..
bookloverintexas
Many characters, but well written, so I could follow all with great interest.
M. Crawford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on June 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Danton M. on January 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book! I grew up in the Flint Hills, went to high school in Council Grove, and felt that the storms that overwhelm that part of my beautiful state are vividly recreated here. The characters are interesting and Pickard kept me fully involved in their stories.

So why not five stars? Just because I figured out the mystery of the frozen girl far too early, well before halfway through the book. I'm not a regular mystery reader, but I think anyway who reads carefully will solve the mystery behind Sarah's death quite quickly. That doesn't mean they'll want to quit reading, because the story is well-told enough that I sure didn't mind finishing it to see how everything would wrap up!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Erin Brooks on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a great and suspenseful story based around the murder of a young woman in 1987. The discovery of the body by a local ranching family has had devastating effects on all those involved in one way or another. The town turned this victim into some sort of a saint, while the life of those who knew something about her death has turned into a nightmare. I read this book in two days and stayed up late to finish it. It has good twists, a great mix of endearing characters and small town gossip/family secrets, and the whole atmosphere of the small midwestern town made it even better. Very enjoyable read and highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Badger on February 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In reading the other reviews for this novel, I'm surprised at the number of five star ratings. I agree that the author is a good writer and highly readable. Furthermore, I think that the book is very interesting in the beginning. It has an intriguing premise: the body of a nude, young, beautiful girl is found in a cornfield during a snowstorm. This discovery forever changes the lives of three families. Because of the strength of this premise and Ms. Pickard's writing skills, the book held my interest through to the end. My problem with the story begins with the ending. I found it very unbelievable. The character of the villain(s) in the piece had not been sufficiently developed to make me believe that he, she, or they were the culprit(s). I found the resolution of the novel also unsatisfying. This could have been an excellent story with more character development and a better conceived plot. Instead, it is in my opinion, an entertaining but almost superficial treatment of a promising premise.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A reader on April 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'd never heard of Nancy Piackard before, but it seems I've been missing out. I read an excellent review of this new book, and am so glad I picked it up.

THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS expertly blends suspense, sentiment, and the sublime. (At one point, a waning tornado showers flowers upon a woman lying in a churchyard.) Pickard maintains a sure and steady hand as her story shuttles back and forth in time, churning up buried secrets and old grudges, and when the subplots finally converge, it's pretty spectacular. This is a beautiful book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed Nancy Pickard's novels so I was excited to read her new title, The Virgin of Small Plains. I wasn't disappointed.

In 1987, the naked and frozen body of a beautiful young woman was discovered in Small Plains, Kansas during a snowstorm. The town's tribute to the nameless woman was a burial and headstone in the local cemetery. Over the years, her grave was visited by ill people who proclaimed they were healed--and thus she became known as the Virgin of Small Plains.

Following the death of the virgin, the lives of three families (including their children) were changed forever. Mitch Newquist, son of a local judge, disappeared the night the virgin's body was found. Mitch left town without a word and his girlfriend Abby Reynolds never really recovered the loss of Mitch. Abby's father was the town doctor and the virgin's body was brought to his house. Abby's father's involvement with the virgin caused him to withdraw from his own family over the years. The local sheriff and his sons found the virgin's body, and in order to protect their family, secrets had to be kept.

Seventeen years later Judge Newquist's wife died in a snowstorm, much like the one when the virgin died. Her son, Mitch, later returns to Small Plains and his arrival thrusts the town and its residents into facing the truth about the virgin's murder.

Pickard's plot is fascinating, dark and exciting. I turned the pages as fast as I could because I really wanted to find out what had happened.

Armchair Interviews says: If you like interesting and intriguing novels, check out all of Nancy Pickard's titles. You'll be glad you did.
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