What if you were the teenage golden boy of a small town, and you saw something you shouldn't have seen? What if the only way to stay safe is to keep silent, and disappear? What happens when you're ready to come home again? In The Virgin of Small Plains, award-winning mystery writer Nancy Pickard tells the story of Mitch, Abby and Rex, best friends in idyllic Small Plains, Kansas. When Rex, his brother and their father the local sheriff find the naked body of a young woman in a cow pasture during a blizzard, the teenagers' lives change in ways they never anticipated. Overnight, Mitch disappears, leaving both his girlfriend and his best buddy feeling abandoned. Over the next decade and a half, life goes on, though with Mitch's continued absence, neither Abby nor Rex ever feels complete. The townspeople chip in to bury the unidentified girl. Inexplicably, strange miracles occur, and in death, the girl acquires a new identity and a power she lacked in life. Those who ask her help in curing the sick start calling her the Virgin.

After his mother's death in another snowstorm, Mitch decides that 17 years away is long enough. Determined to get his revenge on the town and the men he feels abandoned him, Mitch settles in to a ranch house his family rarely uses and begins buying property in town. His unexpected encounters with Abby and Rex reopen the wounds all three carry from the night of the Virgin's death. When Mitch meets another young woman seeking a miracle, his desire for revenge is transformed into a healing force. In an unfolding series of revelations, Abby, Mitch and Rex now sheriff himself discover the truth about the Virgin, and their own families. Pickard handles the shifts between 1987 and the present deftly. She gets inside the hearts and minds of wounded teenagers, and shows how they became strong, capable but still vulnerable adults. The Virgin of Small Plains is a powerful novel that will keep you reading way past bedtime. Leslie Budewitz writes from northwest Montana.

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