Excellent novel of psychological suspense with characters I cared about. I actually stayed up nearly all night in order to finish the book, which is very rare for me. Part mystery, part gothic (in the old-fashioned sense). Betrayal and redemption. And yes, this is exactly what it's like to live in a small town.
Having grown up and still living in Kansas, I couldn't wait to read this book. It's a very good book, depicts small town life and our tornado season very well. I really enjoyed it. I thought the switch from writing about a teenager's feeling and emotions was very well done. Having said all that, I found the story line too easy to figure out, which is the only thing that keeps me from thinking this is an excellent book.
This is one of the best books I've read so far this year. It had it all. Beautiful prose, an unforgetable story with heartbreaking loss that was painful for me to read at times, but with the hope of redemption. I really loved this book!
The Virgin of Small Plains starts with Abby and Mitch deciding to make love for the first time. Abby's dad is a small town doctor and since the young couple were not prepared for this first time love making, Abby sends Mitch down stairs to her father's office to grab a condom from his supply closet. While Mitch is in the closet, even though it is late at night, the doctor rushes in followed by the town's sheriff with the body of a young girl found frozen in a field. She has obviously been murdered and the two adults are trying to hide her identity. Mitch witnesses their actions from the closet and as soon as he can slip out, runs home and admits what he has seen to his parents who are friends of the doctor and sheriff. Mitch is then rushed out of town by his parents to a new school and life leaving Abby trying to figure what on earth has happened to him. The story is a page turner with Mitch returning 17 years later to unravel the mystery. I now have a new favorite author and I will be putting her books on my wish list.
This was a good book from an author I never read before. It is somewhat confusing in the first 50 or so pages, but there is much to introduce, once you get past that it moves very quickly and you will find yourself staying up to finish it like I did. A good mystery/thriller has some predictability but an overall interesting story.
This book is our monthly book club selection.. I will be interested to see how others rated it but I have nothing but really good comments about this book. It had great character study...lots of characters which initially I found confusing, three families, kids, adults, overlapping lives. Once into the story, it begins to straighten out into a good mystery with many twists and surprises. I did keep asking myself, why would respectable citizens of a cummunity behave in this manner but that was partially resolved by the end of the book. Well written and for me an engrossable read.
This is FANTASTIC!! I read it in 4 days. I couldn't wait to get to bed to find out what happens next. Anybody that grew up in a small town will certainly appreciate the secrets that have been hidden in Small Plains.
A very good book, rendered above average by Pickard's excellent writing and competent handling of a complex if somewhat predictable plot. Some events, like the too-pat ending, were a stretch. But overall, she delivered a convincing depiction of small town life, deftly avoiding stereotypes and creating interesting and multifaceted people. Definitely an author I'll look for again.
The Virgin of Small Plains is the age-old story of the loss of innocence, the loss of trust, the loss of faith. Young Rex Shellenberger found the dead girl, and his friend Mitch Newquist disappeared the very next day-- stirring rumors that Mitch was the killer. Rex never believed those rumors, and neither did his friend (and Mitch's girlfriend) Abby Reynolds. None of the three friends ever recovered from that event, and as Nancy Pickard's tale unfolds, it soon becomes abundantly clear that their fathers-- as sheriff, judge and doctor three of the most powerful men in Small Plains-- know a lot more about that night than they've ever told anyone. Abby Reynolds becomes the catalyst. For seventeen years, she's felt "like a triangle with one side missing," and she's tired of it. She wants answers, she wants closure, and she wants a name and justice for the Virgin of Small Plains. Little does she know that she's about to take a stick to a very large hornet's nest.
What makes this book so good is Pickard's lyrical writing style and her eye for the telling detail. She's created a bit of a romance and a bit of a gothic tale, but it works. Her use of weather to create atmosphere and suspense is top notch, and her characters made themselves at home in my head. I grew up in a small farm town, and I could easily see the events of this book happening there. The only thing that prevents me from giving Pickard's book an all-out rave review is the fact that I put the pieces together very early. But the poetic writing, the setting, and the characters-- including a grey conure named J.D.-- packed such a punch that I really didn't mind the lack of surprise. I have another book by Pickard, The Scent of Rain and Lightning, sitting on my shelf, and I look forward to reading it.
The Virgin of Small Plains is a fantastic mystery that reads like literary fiction. The story is set in a small Kansas town, where years ago a horrible crime took place. An unknown young woman was savagely beaten and left to die in a winter storm. The town came together to give the woman a proper burial, and legend has it that in return for that kindness she will grant wishes to those that visit her grave.
The interesting parts of the story concern three families who have connections to the murdered woman and each other. The Virgin of Small Plains shows how although dark secrets can alter lives and destroy love and friendships, ultimately truths are revealed and can be liberating. Highly recommended!
Good story line, good character development. I finished this book in one day because I just couldn't put it down. The only downside that I could see to this novel was that I figured out the plot twist about 2/3 of the way through the book. This, however, did not keep me from finishing the book. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a mystery with a good story.
Another good mystery from Nancy Pickard! It grabbed my interest immediately, and it was one of those that I couldn't put down until I finished! Her books always keep me guessing, and to me, that's the makings of a great mystery. If you've never read this author, this book is the one to try.(
The Virgin of Small Plains was the May 2014 pick in my neighborhood book club.
It tells the story of a small Kansas town where a young girl was found dead but was never claimed. Strange events ensued after the night the body was found, and the details are revealed incrementally to the reader as the story goes on.
I heard this book won an Agatha Christie award, which is surprising, because it isn't a very intelligent mystery at all. I found things pretty transparent and predictable, and others just plain contrived - such a character who had no good reason to incriminate himself keeping quiet about the truth all those years. It just wasn't plausible.
There was also a dual timeline and blending of genres that felt awkward, rather than seamless.
I think I would recommend an author like Emily Richards before I recommended Nancy Pickard. Emily writes more quality mysteries.
For a strong opening that got my interest, I give The Virgin of Small Plains a C.
I had a difficult time finishing this book; I found it to have too many characters to keep track of. I couldn't remember who was who. (I ended-up writing it down and using the paper as a bookmark.) Also I didn't think the storyline was very good.