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.
BONUS: This edition contains a The Scent of Rain and Lightning discussion guide.
One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder receives shocking news: The man convicted of murdering her father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-three years since that stormy night when her father was shot and killed and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Neither the protective embrace of Jody’s three uncles nor the safe haven of her grandparents’ ranch could erase the pain caused by Billy Crosby on that catastrophic night.
Now Billy Crosby is free, thanks to the efforts of his son, Collin, a lawyer who has spent most of his life trying to prove his father’s innocence. Despite their long history of carefully avoiding each other in such an insular community, Jody and Collin find that they share an exclusive sense of loss.
As Jody revisits old wounds, startling truths emerge about her family’s tragic past. But even through struggle and hardship, she still dares to hope for a better future--and maybe even love.
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Twenty-six years ago, when she was only three months old, Jody Linder's father was murdered as she slept in her cot. Her mother vanished, presumed dead. Local trouble-maker Billy Crosby confessed to the murder and was locked up, leaving his wife and son to face the consequences in the small Kansas town of Rose. But his son Collin, now a lawyer, has successfully petitioned for a retrial, which means that - for now - Billy is back in town. Jody is horrified - the man who tore her family apart is living just a few streets away. So why does she find herself wondering if Collin is right? What if Billy was innocent, and her close-knit family has been hiding a terrible secret all these years? Haunting and powerful, this is Nancy Pickard's finest achievement to date.
When a dinner guest of Eugenia Potter is found poisoned, supposedly from Mrs. Potter's famous twenty-seven-ingredient chili, the flabbergasted hostess knows she must act quickly before someone else is murdered.
From the Paperback edition.
Kernels of Truth....
When Eugenia Potter stumbles upon some ancient pottery shards on her ranch, she feels a profound connection with the past. And a deep desire to learn more about the relics. Now, she's heeding the call of her soul--by visiting an archaeological camp amid the magnificent cliff dwellings of Colorado's Mesa Verde.
But strange things are happening at Mesa Verde, from the director's increasing mental confusion to a visitor's grisly death. Even a Talking Circle--a traditional ritual facilitated by the passing around of an ear of blue corn--doesn't reveal the source of the trouble. And when a busload of teenagers on a hiking trip disappears without a trace, Mrs. Potter begins some digging... to unearth a cruel scheme, a long-buried secret, and the deadly fruits of a killer's dark hungers.
From the Paperback edition.
January 1987, Small Plains, Kansas. On the night of the decade's worst blizzard, a boy discovers the naked corpse of a beautiful girl. No-one can identify her, so the people of the town bury her with a gravestone marked with the date and 'Peace Be Unto You'. Seventeen years later, the mysterious dead girl - the 'Virgin of Small Plains' - has inspired a local myth. In the two decades since her death, strange miracles have visited those who faithfully tend her grave; some believe her spirit can cure deadly illnesses, while others credit her with the town's economic prosperity. Word of the legend spreads and Small Plains becomes a haven for an onslaught of spiritual seekers and the terminally ill, all hoping the Virgin will answer their prayers. When the mysterious Mitch Newquist reappears and a vengeful tornado devastates Small Plains, the truth begins to emerge.. What really happened seventeen years ago? Why did Mitch suddenly disappear the same night the Virgin's body was found - abandoning his first love, Abby Reynolds? And why are some of the town's leading citizens so determined that the truth remain buried?
The blank page, the impossible deadline, the rush of inspiration: There is no profession more maddening or more rewarding than being a writer. Yet surprisingly, all writers pass through the same sequence of stages in the course of their careers. It was this remarkable insight that inspired veteran authors Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott to write one of the wisest and liveliest guides to the literary life ever penned-- a volume of astonishing revelation, warm reassurance, brilliant encouragement, and welcome humor. No matter what you write or how much recognition you've received, you are bound to pass through the seven steps on the writer's path: Unhappiness, Wanting, Commitment, Wavering, Letting Go, Immersion, and Fulfillment.
Whether you're a wannabe writer or a published literary veteran, you're bound to find this book a source of true delight, vital wisdom, and lasting inspiration.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A DINNER TO DIE FOR
Summoned from her Arizona ranch to take charge of her teenage great-nephew and his twin sister, Genia Potter takes a rental on the Rhode Island coast. Old acquaintance Stanley Parker is only too happy to welcome her. And soon Genia is busily preparing for the tasting party that she and Stanley are hosting that evening at her cottage.
An avid cook and recipe collector, Stanley has already roped Genia into collaborating on The Secret Ingredient Cookbook, chock-full of Rhode Island culinary mysteries. Now is their chance to test some recipes and solicit others from each of the invited. Stanley has carefully selected six guests. And each has been asked to contribute a recipe with one secret ingredient. Genia asks no questions-until the lobster bisque is cold and all but one are present. Where is Stanley? Dead. And unlamented. Has one of the guests concocted a secret recipe for murder? Everyone has a motive. And everyone has a secret-including Genia's troubled great-nephew, the prime suspect. . .
From the Paperback edition.