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The Virgin of Small Plains

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,534 ratings  ·  941 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,534 ratings  ·  941 reviews

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May 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
"She lay on her side, impossibly naked in the blizzard. her skin was a white as the snow around it, her hair as brown as the earth under her. Even cold and dead, she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever soon. "
Quite a good mystery/crime story, entertaining.
Joann Cotelesse
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Denise, Lisa, Shannon, Jayme etc.
Recommended to Joann by: The library
On going to the library to find another book, I picked this book up at the suggestion of the library web page. This book was a sleeper. I mean I would have never thought it would be good. It was easy to read. It caught you in the first chapter. This is a story of a small town with grownups who were devious. I young boys life was altered severely because of their sins. Nancy Pickard is an author I would read again. I read mysteries often, but I did not figure it out until the plot was laid out. I ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mom
This isn't necessarily a book I would normally read, but the story intrigued me. A young woman is killed in a small town in Kansas. No one knows who she is and she is buried in an unmarked grave. A cult of the virgin grows up around her resting place and miracles are attributed to her.

Actually, as the story progresses, you realize quite a few people know who she is. And they're not talking.

This is also the story of a lost love between teenagers, of family relationships, of bad kids, good kids, a
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
The first third I would have given this a 4 star, but the remainder barely earned a three. But overall, a solid 3 star is earned.

The plot line is interesting and the characters developed beyond the usual mystery or family / small town modern. Kansas and the locale are also colored to hay baling, farm animal care and other physical actualities for the economics of the family and the town. That was appreciated, because often in the placements of this genre, that just isn't true.

Pickard writes desc
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What a page turner! This book reads just like an episode of CBS' Cold Case, which I happen to love! In 1987 the body of a young woman is found naked and half buried in the snow on a farm. No one in town knows her and everyone pitches in and buys her a tombstone and the whole town gives her a proper funeral. In 2004, her grave has become legend and people from all across the country are traveling to see the woman's grave, now known as The Virgin. The Virgin is said to cure people from life-threat ...more
Stacy Green
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a great book. Not too many authors can pull off several points of view the way Pickard does, and I found myself invested not only in solving the mystery, but in each of the characters, including the secondary ones. She also does a really good job with description by going beyond the five senses and tying it to the character's personal experience. Highly recommended!
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
I really enjoyed this book. Keeps you interested in it from start to finish.
Laurel Bradley
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You know it's a good book when, after reading the library's copy, you go out and buy your own. THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLIAINS is that kind of book.

In 1987 Small Plains, Kansas, in the midst of a blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger searches the pastures of his family farm for newborn calves and finds the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl. That night, Shellenberger's dad--the sheriff--brings the corpse to sixteen-year-old Abby Reynold's father's in-home doctor's office. Hiding in a stora
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, 2011
This is one of those fucking books in that new-ish fucking style what attempts to, I don't fucking know, take a goddamn murder mystery and make it EXCITING and FAST-PACED by totally screwing with the narrative linechanging p-o-v rapidly and skipping back-and-forth in time. And pretending to give you clues about whodunit that turn out to be not clues at all, haha, and weren't you a fool for thinking the psychopathic son did it?
That's got nothing to do with being a foolish, naive reader, goddammi
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
Stunning first novel for me by this author! 5 Stars! Worthy as a bookclub selection! Can't wait to meet this author in May. The storyline, the characters, the mystery was all gold and I was riveted from the first sentence. Loved the present and the past chapters and each with a view from key characters. Brilliant prose and most poetic justice on page 330. A Must Read for everyone. Can't hardly wait for her new book to come out this June and or to dive into her two series.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Pretty early on I was able to guess what was going on, both in the present and the past. I hated that innocent people got hurt, that there lives were radically changed by the selfishness of one person and that so many people carried secrets for a person that didn't deserve it. About the only things that can be said by the end is that most of the people were finally back on track with their lives.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Was this well written? No. Did I figure out the plot solution well before the end? Yes. Was it a fun and fast read? Yes. 3.5 stars.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelf-of-shame
Omg this book. This might just be one of the worst books I've ever read. Why two stars? Merely because it had to have something that made me read it all the way through despite several ridiculous offenses that would otherwise warrant a big fat DNF.
-Terrible inconsistent writing that clearly did not get much editing? CHECK
-Less than 2d/cardboard characters? CHECK
-Incorrect use of an unreliable narrator? CHECK
-Totally ridiculous behavior of the characters? CHECK
-False clues and red h
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Louie
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I don't often read mystery novels; it was the premise of Pickard's novel that drew me to it. A young woman's naked body is discovered in the snow deep in a farmer's field one winter night. Her identity unknown, she is buried in the Kansas town's cemetery and becomes known as the “Virgin of Small Plains.” Over the years, her grave is transformed into a pilgrimage site for those who are suffering and dying. Some even claim that visits to her grave cures them. Ten years later, Abby, the protagonist ...more
This book was such a disappointment. It started out so good and intriguing, and then the author kept making stupid plot choices and dumb character decisions and ridiculous "twists"... it was just a mess. I'm surprised I finished it instead of DNF'ing.
Cathy Cole
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, 5-star
This is the second Nancy Pickard book I've read and it certainly won't be the last. Her books are page-turners and not because of the breathtaking action, but because she involves you in the character's lives. I felt so much for what some of them had been through, the pain of loss that it so real that it is heartbreaking. It brought me to tears several times.
The mystery is there from page one, but the story around it slowly develops and there are some great red herrings and some evidence seen fr
Donna Galanti
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerhouse of a book. It held me in a grip. Pickard is a master at dropping just the right tid bits along the way for you to sit up and ask: "OMG, what did that character just say?" "OMG, how is he connected too?" "OMG, I cant believe that just happened!" and you rush back to read it again to keep that shocking feeling going. Once you get caught up in the parallel story lines, one present day and one 17 years earlier, it will seem as seamlessly insync as one story. You won't have to wa ...more
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
I read this book in just over a day, staying up into the night as I couldn't tear myself away from it. It's one of those books where you promise yourself that this will be the last chapter, and then you say just one more....and so on!

This is the story of a young girl who is found naked and frozen to death in one of the worst blizzards the town on Small Plains has ever known. She can't be identified and so she is buried in an unmarked grave in the towns cemetary. Over the years she becomes known
Jeannine Mason
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
All in all I enjoyed this book. The characters were pretty two-dimensional, but I wanted a good mystery, and a quick one, and usually the character development is limited in stories like these. I was ok with that. I choose books depending on my mood, and if I want an epic historical novel or a fast paced mystery will depend on how I am feeling.

I felt the pacing was perfect. The mystery of an unidentified girl found dead in a snow storm 17 years prior to the books opening set the fast pace almost
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erin by: Goodreads
In the middle of a blizzard, a young girl is found dead- naked and bloody by teenager Rex Shellenberger, his father, and older brother. His father, the local sheriff, drops Rex off at his home and tells his son to say nothing to his mother about the dead girl. Meanwhile, across town, teenage lovebirds, Abby and Mitchell( Rex's best friend, are hiding out in Abby's bedroom waiting for her parents to fall asleep. Abby knows that if her father, the town doctor, catches Mitch, she'll be grounded fo ...more
I enjoyed reading it, kept going back to it between chores and errands, I wanted to see what would happen next.
It was relaxing in that it was easy to read, uncomplicated but kept my interest. There was also, in my opinion, a pleasing symmetry and balance to the book. It wasn't a cozy, there is some gore, and it isn't necessarily logical.
A young teen in love witnesses a horrible event. He tells his father and is quickly sent away. His girlfriend and other friends cannot understand why he is gone
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
For the most part, THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS is an excellent mystery, the kind readers will be anxious to keep reading. It is a murder mystery, yes, but as the best mysteries are, this book is much more than that. It examines lies and relationships and the possibility of miracles. Plus, the substory of a separate character in need of a miracle is placed in this story to make it even more complex.

But it's a 4- out of 5-star book. THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS loses a point because its language is s
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I've been meaning to read this ever since I read "The Scent of Rain and Lightning" -- it's taken me a while but I'm so glad I finally got to it.

The Virgin of the title is an unknown young woman found dead one night in a snowstorm in Small Plains, Kansas. The townspeople give her a burial and headstone -- with no name -- and she becomes something of a legend. But who was she, and who killed her?

The story moves between two periods 17 years apart, as the people whose lives were changed the night o
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this for my November book club read, when I went to go buy the book from Barnes and Noble it didn't really occur to me that this was pegged as a mystery. I wasn't familiar with Nancy Pickard and thought the book was really well done.While I read the book it reminded me of a Karen White book, one thing I liked about it was I felt like I could clearly "see" everything that was happening. Only a really good story-teller could do something like that to their audience. I was pretty surprised a ...more
Maria Jo
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ms. Pickard very clearly knows Kansas. The only problem I had with her Kansas knowledge: I have never, ever heard a tornado called a "'nado". I had an opinion about the murderer very early in the story, and the foreshadowing throughout the novel seemed to confirm my theory. I think I was as surprised as some of the characters at the ending of the book!
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars, but any book that keeps me up reading until I finish it I feel compelled to round up. Nice murder mystery with some romance. I am not sure about the motivation of a couple of characters, but why ruin the fun ride with such details?
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've rarely if ever read mysteries. However, our local library has a staggeringly large collection so I chose this to give the mystery genre another shot. It was a compelling read that I really enjoyed. I'm all ready to start another of Pickard's books.
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Nancy Pickard is an American crime novelist. She received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and began writing at age 35.

She has won five Macavity Awards, four Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, and a Shamus Award. She is the only author to win all four awards. Her novel The Virgin of Small Plains, published in 2007, won an Agatha Award. She also served on t

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“İnsanların iyi niyetleri suistimal ediliyor.”
“Kim tarafından?”
“Biz tabii ki!Hasta insanların buraya gelip o aptalca hikayelere inanmalarına izin veriyoruz ve işleri onlar için daha kötü hale getiriyoruz.”
“İnsanların okudukları şeylere inanmalrınıengelleyen bir yasa henüz yok ,Abby.”
“Fakat dolandırmayı engelleyen var.”
“Good ol' Rex, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” 1 likes
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