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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
After more than a dozen novels, mystery and suspense author -- and longtime Kansan -- Nancy Pickard finally comes home to the Sunflower State in The Virgin of Small Plains, a hauntingly bittersweet story about the residents of a Kansas town and the grisly secrets some of them have kept buried for 17 years.
During a deadly blizzard in 1987, high school senior Rex Shellenberger and his older brother help their father search snow-covered pastures for newborn calves. What Rex finds instead is a breathtakingly beautiful young woman, completely naked and frozen to death, as if she just curled up and fallen asleep. The body is never identified and is eventually buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery. But even after 17 years, rumors still swirl around the girl and the mysterious events of that fateful night. How did she get there? Why did Mitch Newquist, the handsome son of the local judge, suddenly leave town -- and Abby, the love of his life -- never again to return? A growing number of people believe that visiting the unmarked grave will bring them miracles -- but there are those in the small town who know there is nothing inspirational about the legend of the Virgin of Small Plains. In fact, it's just the opposite…
The melancholic appeal of this unexpectedly touching novel can be found in the multitude of contradictions associated with small-town America. Pickard fittingly describes The Virgin of Small Plains as set in the place "where Truman Capote proved in In Cold Blood that small Midwestern towns can be the most deadly of all, and where Dorothy proved in The Wizard of Oz that there's no place like home." Just like real life, this novel is full of joy, desire, heartbreak, tragedy -- and, above all else, hope. Paul Goat Allen