“Engrossing . . . beautifully written and carefully crafted . . . [a] work that explores the healing power of truth.”—The Boston Globe

For seventeen years, a rural community in Kansas has faithfully tended the grave of an anonymous teenage girl christened the Virgin of Small Plains. And some claim that, perhaps owing to the girl’s intervention, strange miracles and unexplainable healings have occurred. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

But what really happened in that snow-covered field almost two decades ago, when the girl’s naked, frozen body was found? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the shocking discovery, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds, and their best friend, Rex Shellenberger?

Now Mitch has returned to Small Plains, reigniting simmering tensions and awakening secrets. Never having resolved her feelings for Mitch, Abby is determined to uncover the startling truth about his departure. The three former friends must confront the ever-unfolding consequences of the night that forever changed their lives—and the life of their small town.

Praise for The Virgin of Small Plains

“Nancy Pickard . . . has evolved into a writer of substantial literary power. . . . [She] has fashioned a novel that accurately reflects the secrets and silences locked deep within the hearts of all small-town Midwesterners.”—The Denver Post

“Tantalizing . . . Pickard writes with insight and compassion about an unresolved crime that continues to haunt a farming community.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A class act . . . Pickard has a talent for adding depth to a story that conveys a sense of place and history.”—Orlando Sentinel

“Crisply written, this new novel about loss of faith, trust, and innocence is utterly absorbing.”—Tucson Citizen
"Nancy Pickard pushes at the presumed limits of [crime fiction]" said the Los Angeles Times Book Review, praising the award-winning creator of the Jenny Cain mysteries. Now, Pickard blurs the line between fiction and reality in a novel of gripping intensity, and premieres a superb new heroine: true-crime author Marie Lightfoot. For her next surefire bestseller, Marie is covering the trial of a Florida killer -- a case that penetrates her own life, layer by disturbing layer.
Whether real like Ted Bundy, or imagined like Hannibal Lecter, few killers of our time are in the same league as Raymond Raintree. And as he stands flanked by lawyers in a Florida courtroom, waiting to be convicted for the murder of Natalie Mae McCullen, Marie Lightfoot is taking it all in. A small, gutsy blonde renowned for her true-crime bestsellers, Marie knows the graphic and disturbing case will make her best book yet -- because Raintree's shocking crime, vile beyond imagining, is also impossible to turn away from. But there is something about the case -- and Raintree's involvement -- that bothers her.
No one knows where Raintree, a man as slight and immature as a preteen boy, took Natalie after he abducted her. No one knows how Natalie -- bright, independent, and with no fear of the dark -- could be lured into a stranger's boat on a lonely waterway. And only one witness saw a man who may have been Raintree motoring along in a water taxi on the night Natalie disappeared.
Even if the police can't provide answers, Marie intends to leave no loose ends. Starting with a prison meeting with Raintree, the steely-nerved writer follows a twisted path that leads to Natalie's parents, to a coincidence that doesn't quite gel, and to a place she has resisted all her life: the dark recesses of her own soul, where she hides the secrets of her own lost past.
When Raymond escapes, Marie -- a curious contradiction of celebrity author and introspective loner -- becomes a sitting duck for a killer who just might be smart enough to outwit her. And evil enough to take her to hell before she dies.
A masterpiece of psychological suspense, The Whole Truth is a compelling look at our fascination with the horrific crimes of our time. Nancy Pickard's characters are as close to flesh and blood as fiction can get -- and her writing is as close to perfection.
Sex, violence, evil, and betrayal -- the shocking murder case splashed across the Florida headlines has all the right elements for true-crime writer Marie Lightfoot's next bestseller. And tell the tale she does, in a book that reveals the secrets of a love affair gone fatally wrong. But there are disturbing twists, which leave Marie sensing in her gut that something does not jibe.
Twist number one: the accused is a man of the cloth, who has allegedly killed his wife in collusion with his lover. Twist number two: a pair of young girls find the body in an abandoned mansion, adding the death of innocence to the magnitude of the crime. Twist number three: a shattering conviction turns the case on its ear. And the ultimate blow: for the first time in her career, Marie fails to win the the killer's confidence during a jailhouse interview. Suddenly, she knows with certainty there ia more to the story than even she realized -- and her conscience won't let her rest.
Then an unexpected visitor -- a shock in itself for the reclusive writer -- confesses something that not even the police know. The revelation may he the missing piece in a terrifying puzzle -- evidence that teaches Marie a bone-chilling lesson as threatening danger slowly encircles her: to err is human, but underestimating the criminal mind can be deadly.
Nancy Pickard premiered gutsy Marie Lightfoot in the national bestseller The Whole Truth, and kicked off a thrilling new series with "an intriguing story, fascinatingly told" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Now, Pickard once again "pushes the presumed limits of [crime fiction]" (Los Angeles Times) as she sends this complex heroine into a jagged maze with one destination: the darkest realm of human nature.
With The Whole Truth and Ring of Truth, award-winning author Nancy Pickard introduced the intrepid Marie Lightfoot, a gutsy and charismatic true-crime writer, and kicked oV a sensational new series that sealed her reputation as one of today's top practitioners of "chilling, fast-paced, and original" thrillers (Detroit Free Press). Now Marie Lightfoot faces an unusually challenging case because this time it's personal -- painfully so, as it concerns the central mystery of her life: her parents' disappearance.
My dear Marie,
Do you give any thought to life after death? They say that when dead people hover around the living, it is because they are stuck at the place where they died. They can't move on. I hope for your sake that doesn't happen to you, Marie, because I don't think you'll want to linger in the place where I will kill you....
When the first E-mail arrives it seems like a joke: A man writes that he loves Marie's work and wants her to collaborate with him by becoming his victim and writing a book about her own murder right up to the moment of her death. If she doesn't cooperate, he promises, he will hurt someone close to her. Marie is merely unsettled until more threatening E-mails arrive and the young children of her lover, State Attorney Franklin DeWeese, become targets of vicious pranks.
Until the police can apprehend her tormentor, Marie has no choice but to play along, following her "co-author's" instructions to write her life story and return to her birthplace, a small town in Alabama. There Marie seeks out a group of the town's most prominent citizens. Forty years ago, they worked clandestinely in the civil rights movement alongside her parents, who disappeared during the explosive summer of 1963. Trying to untangle the divided loyalties, secrets, lies, and misunderstandings that have obscured the truth about her parents, Marie races to unravel the secrets of the past and outwit a killer before she is forced to write her final page.
Filled with rich characterizations, steadily escalating suspense, and a rare depth of emotion, The Truth Hurts draws readers into a mystery that spans the present day and the tense, heartbreaking early days of America's civil rights movement. In a novel as complex and captivating as her inimitable heroine, Nancy Pickard keeps readers guessing until the Wnal page is turned.
One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder, a young English teacher, is unnerved to see her three uncles parking their pickups in front of her parents' house-or what she calls her parents' house, even though they have been gone almost all of Jody's life. The three bring shocking news: the man convicted of murdering Jody's father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-six years since that stormy night when Jody's father was shot and killed and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Neither the protective embrace of Jody's uncles nor the safe haven of her grandparents' ranch could erase the pain caused by Billy Crosby that night. Now Billy has been granted a new trial, thanks in large part to the efforts of his son, Collin, a lawyer who has spent most of his life trying to prove his father's innocence. Jody knows that sooner or later she'll come face-to-face with the man who she believes destroyed her family. But what she doesn't expect are the heated exchanges with Collin. Having grown up practically side by side in this very small town, Jody and Collin have a long history of carefully avoiding each other's eyes. Now Jody discovers that underneath their antagonism is a shared sense of loss that no one else could possibly understand. As she revisits old wounds, startling revelations compel her to uncover the dangerous truth about her family's tragic past. Engrossing, lyrical, and suspenseful, The Scent of Rain and Lightning captures the essence of small-town America-its heartfelt intimacy and its darkest secrets-where through struggle and hardship people still dare to hope for a better future. For Jody Linder, maybe even love.
Who needs a mountain of debt? Each year, the nation's top business schools are flooded with applications from people eager to pursue their MBA dreams. But those aspirations come at a steep price. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average debt load for graduates of NYU's Stern School of Business, MIT's Sloan School of Management, and other top business schools exceeds $100,000. Like most, author Laurie Pickard couldn't shoulder that. But she faced a dilemma: despite two degrees and a Peace Corps stint, she needed a business education to land her dream job in international development. She decided to take her education into her own hands, and found that some of those same prestigious business schools offer MOOCs (massive online open courses) for low or even no cost. By picking the right classes from the best schools, she gained the skills--without all the debt. In Don't Pay for Your MBA, Pickard shows self-starters, career changers, and budding entrepreneurs how to navigate the expanding universe of online education. Building on her popular No-Pay MBA blog, Pickard reveals how to: Define your goals and tailor a curriculum that works for you - Master the language of business - Build a strong network - Choose a concentration and deepen your expertise - Showcase your nontraditional education in a way that attracts offers Self-directed learning fills gaps in your training, positions you for promotions, and opens up new opportunities. Why pay exorbitant tuition when you can MOOC your way to success?
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