The town of Small Plains, Kan., is forever altered in 1987 when the body of a young woman is discovered hidden among the snowdrifts. A day later, Mitch Newquist abruptly leaves town without a word to his girlfriend, Abby, and promptly becomes a suspect. The never-identified murder victim is eventually buried in the cemetery and, as the years pass, people come to believe that they can be healed by visiting her gravesite. She becomes known as the Virgin of Small Plains.

Seventeen years later, Mitch returns shortly after his mother's death. He has a bittersweet reunion with Abby, who's dating a moody man in town, and becomes determined to solve the girl's murder and clear his name. Will there be a future for Abby and Mitch if he can figure out what this mysterious web of lies and deceit means?

Thrilling and suspenseful, Pickard's latest will keep the reader on pins and needles. The characters are expertly drawn in this engrossing mystery that's impossible to put down. (May, 352 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick