Monday, July 02, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Virgin of Small Plains"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Nancy Pickard's The Virgin of Small Plains.

About the book, from the publisher:
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.
Among the praise for the novel:
"A hold-your-breath suspense story. The Virgin of Small Plains is sexy, warm, and poignant with aching loss and a human desire for miracles. Pickard's best book yet."
--Margaret Maron, Edgar-winning author of Rituals of the Season

"Pickard probes the truth behind miracles and the tragedies behind lies in this mesmerizing suspense novel set in Kansas ... a memorable read."
--Publishers Weekly

"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

"Nancy Pickard flexes her stellar storytelling talents in this unforgettable tale of love, lust, faith, betrayal and redemption. The Virgin of Small Plains is a powerful, mesmerizing suspense novel, a tour de force!"
--Judith Kelman, bestselling author and Mary Higgins Clark Award winner

"The Virgin of Small Plains will keep you up all night. Nancy Pickard's intelligent, suspenseful storytelling never disappoints."
--Julie Garwood, New York Times bestselling author of Slow Burn
Nancy Pickard is the author of seventeen popular and critically acclaimed novels and dozens of short stories. She has won the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus awards for her short stories and the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her novels. She is a 4-time Edgar Allen Poe award nominee, a Mary Higgins Clark award finalist, and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award for suspense fiction, from Romantic Times.

The Virgin of Small Plains won the Agatha Award for Best Novel.

Visit Nancy Pickard's website and read an excerpt from The Virgin of Small Plains.

The Page 69 Test: The Virgin of Small Plains.

--Marshal Zeringue