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The Virgin of small plains (Russian edition) (English Edition)
 
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The Virgin of small plains (Russian edition) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Nancy Pickard

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Extrait

Chapter One

January 23, 2004

Abby Reynolds braked her truck on the icy highway, startled by what she imagined she saw off to the side of the road. That can’t be, she thought, as she squinted into the snow, trying to see more clearly. When the wind blew an opening in the blizzard, Abby realized that it was not a hallucination. It was not an impossible illusion sketched on the early morning air by the gusting snow. It was . . . good grief! . . . it was Nadine Newquist in a bathrobe, surrounded by swirling white, struggling through drifts on the old cemetery road, as if she were determined to visit a particular grave on this particular morning.

My God! It was Nadine: the judge’s wife, Mitch’s mom, Abby’s own late mother’s lifelong friend. It really was Nadine, a woman who was sixty-three years old and speeding toward early Alzheimer’s at about the same rate that Abby’s pickup truck was sliding sideways on Highway 177.

What the hell was Nadine doing out there?

She was all by herself, in a bathrobe, for God’s sake, in a blizzard . . .

Abby pumped her brakes with a light touch of her foot, didn’t slam on them like a fool, but her truck started to spin anyway, going round and round on the two-lane blacktop like a two-ton skater on ice.

She let her steering wheel alone, waiting for it to stop spinning before she touched it again. Coffee sloshed out of her lidless thermal cup in its holder by her knee; the smell of it filled the cab of her truck. She could still taste her last sip of it, along with the fruit and cereal she’d had for breakfast—all of which was now threatening to come back up her throat.

With a shudder, the truck came out of the spin and started slid- ing sideways again, skidding in a long diagonal across the yellow line into the eastbound lane. A heavy drift of snow slowed it down and changed the direction of the slide, until it was going backward. The skid went on and on, picking up speed as it backed into the crest of a rise, then dropped down again, taking the bottom of Abby’s stomach with it. And still the truck stayed on the pavement, hemmed in by snow, avoiding the shoulders, the deep culverts, the barbed wire fencing beyond. People thought Kansas was all flat, but it wasn’t, and especially not in the heart of the Flint Hills. The roads in this part of the state were long and straight, but they soared up and plunged down like curved ribbons of hard taffy.

Abby felt a wild hopeful moment of wondering if her truck could somehow manage to slide its way safely all the way back into town on the wrong side of the road. That would be a miracle. As she sat helplessly moving back the way she’d come, like a passenger on a roller coaster in reverse, she looked up the highway to the west, hoping not to see headlights coming at her. That way looked clear. In this strange, slow motion, made to feel even more eerie and timeless in the swirling snow, she felt as if she had all the time in the world before whatever was going to happen in the next few moments happened. She felt strangely calm, even curious about the possibility of crashing, but she didn’t feel calm about Nadine out there in the snow.

She grabbed her cell phone from the seat beside her.

In the uncanny suspension of time, as her truck drew two long parallel lines in the snow on the highway, Abby realized she might be able to get out of her seat belt, throw open her door, and dive out. But if she did, what if her cell phone broke in her fall, or she hurt herself too badly to call for help? Then nobody would know about Nadine. Mitch’s mom could fall out there in the cemetery, be covered by snow, she could die . . .

If I don’t jump, I’ll crash with the truck.

Nadine . . .

Heart pounding, stomach queasy, no longer feeling calm about anything, Abby gave up the idea of trying to jump to save herself. Instead, she punched in the single digit that called the Sheriff’s cell phone. It was on auto-dial, because Rex Shellenberger was as long and close a friend to her as Nadine had been to both of their mothers, as close as Mitch had been to Rex and Abby, once upon a happy time, a long time ago.

“Sheriff Shellenberger,” he said, calm as toast. But it was his recorded message. It went straight from those two words to the beep, wasting no time for people in emergencies.

“Rex! It’s Abby! Nadine Newquist is wandering in the snow in the cemetery. Come help me get her out of there and take her home!”

She felt the truck veer left, and then felt it in her back and bottom first as the ride got rough and the rear tires slid onto gravel underneath snow.

Her roller-coaster ride, her trip back through time, was almost over.

Nobody would believe she had traveled so far on ice without crashing, Abby thought as the ride got rougher.

Panicked thoughts flashed through her brain, images without words. Should she call Nadine’s husband, Tom? No, the judge was a notoriously bad driver in the best of weather, and a veritable menace at the first hint of moisture on the roads. Everybody knew that. Nobody with any sense ever consented to step into a car if Judge Tom Newquist was driving it, especially if it was raining, snowing, or sleeting. She’d only get him—or somebody else—killed if she called him out in this storm.

Frightened, Abby looked out the windshield just before it tilted up toward the sky.

In that split second, she glimpsed Mitch’s mom again. Nadine’s bathrobe was a tiny slash of deep rose on white, a hothouse flower inexplicably set outside on a winter’s day. Abby knew the robe was expensive, soft and silky to the touch. She’d seen Nadine wearing it a lot lately, because she insisted on spending her days and nights in lingerie. It hardly mattered, since she didn’t seem to be able to distinguish night from day anymore. When the judge or the nursing attendants he hired to watch her tried to get her into other clothes, she fought them. Abby knew the robe was made of thin material. The body under it was also thin, with hardly an ounce of fat to protect Nadine from the fierce cold that wrapped around her now.

At sixty miles an hour, Abby’s truck hit the far side of the cement culvert with a crash that telescoped the exhaust pipes, flattened half of the metal bed, tore through the transmission, ripped out the gears, and shut the engine off. It was a ten-year-old truck with no air bags. Her seat belt saved her from being thrown into her windshield, but not from being slammed sideways into the window.


From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Pickard (Storm Warnings) probes the truth behind miracles and the tragedies behind lies in this mesmerizing suspense novel set in Kansas. While rounding up newborn calves during a 1987 blizzard, Nathan Shellenberger, sheriff of Small Plains, and his teenage sons, Rex and Patrick, discover the naked frozen body of a beautiful teenage girl. Later, Nathan and Dr. Quentin "Doc" Reynolds bash the girl's face to an unrecognizable pulp, since they know who she is and fear that either Patrick or Rex's best friend, 17-year-old Mitch Newquist, is her killer. Witnessing this terrible scene is Mitch, hidden in Doc's home office supply closet where he's gone for a condom to use with Abby, Doc's 16-year-old daughter. Mitch's father, a judge, forces Mitch to leave town after the boy admits what he saw. In 2004, Abby and Rex—now the sheriff—find another blizzard victim, Mitch's mother, dead near the marker commemorating the still-unidentified "virgin." Readers may wish the author supplied more detail about the dead girl's background, but some cleverly planted surprises and the convincing portrait of smalltown life make this a memorable read. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 927 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 369 pages
  • Utilisation simultanée de l'appareil : Illimité
  • Editeur : Kassiopeya Inc. (10 novembre 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00GM3QC5Q
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°328.465 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  95 commentaires
46 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent! 4 juin 2006
Par L. J. Roberts - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This was so well done. I started it in the evening and it was very late when I finished as I wasn't going to bed until it was done. It's a bit of a romance, a bit of a gothic, but mainly a mystery of family secrets. The story is meticulously plotted with all of my "but what about" questions answers and threads tied. Pickard makes the reader feel as though they are a resident of this small Midwestern town and her use of the weather to create atmosphere and suspense is very well done. The story stayed with me long after finishing the book and that, to me, is one sign of an excellent book.
19 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Definitely kept me reading, but 2 janvier 2007
Par Danton M. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I really enjoyed this book! I grew up in the Flint Hills, went to high school in Council Grove, and felt that the storms that overwhelm that part of my beautiful state are vividly recreated here. The characters are interesting and Pickard kept me fully involved in their stories.

So why not five stars? Just because I figured out the mystery of the frozen girl far too early, well before halfway through the book. I'm not a regular mystery reader, but I think anyway who reads carefully will solve the mystery behind Sarah's death quite quickly. That doesn't mean they'll want to quit reading, because the story is well-told enough that I sure didn't mind finishing it to see how everything would wrap up!
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Recommended!!! 11 octobre 2006
Par Erin Brooks - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a great and suspenseful story based around the murder of a young woman in 1987. The discovery of the body by a local ranching family has had devastating effects on all those involved in one way or another. The town turned this victim into some sort of a saint, while the life of those who knew something about her death has turned into a nightmare. I read this book in two days and stayed up late to finish it. It has good twists, a great mix of endearing characters and small town gossip/family secrets, and the whole atmosphere of the small midwestern town made it even better. Very enjoyable read and highly recommended.
17 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A great idea which is not completely realized 4 février 2007
Par J. Badger - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
In reading the other reviews for this novel, I'm surprised at the number of five star ratings. I agree that the author is a good writer and highly readable. Furthermore, I think that the book is very interesting in the beginning. It has an intriguing premise: the body of a nude, young, beautiful girl is found in a cornfield during a snowstorm. This discovery forever changes the lives of three families. Because of the strength of this premise and Ms. Pickard's writing skills, the book held my interest through to the end. My problem with the story begins with the ending. I found it very unbelievable. The character of the villain(s) in the piece had not been sufficiently developed to make me believe that he, she, or they were the culprit(s). I found the resolution of the novel also unsatisfying. This could have been an excellent story with more character development and a better conceived plot. Instead, it is in my opinion, an entertaining but almost superficial treatment of a promising premise.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wrenching, suspenseful story of intrigue, love, and redemption 19 avril 2006
Par A reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I'd never heard of Nancy Piackard before, but it seems I've been missing out. I read an excellent review of this new book, and am so glad I picked it up.

THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS expertly blends suspense, sentiment, and the sublime. (At one point, a waning tornado showers flowers upon a woman lying in a churchyard.) Pickard maintains a sure and steady hand as her story shuttles back and forth in time, churning up buried secrets and old grudges, and when the subplots finally converge, it's pretty spectacular. This is a beautiful book.
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