Roland Rogers of Kanab, Utah was a lifelong pot hunter, an illegal activity that gained him the reputation as one of the top collectors of Anasazi and Fremont antiquities in southern Utah. He and his wife, Abby, were heading to a remote location for a weekend of collecting ancient artifacts, a pursuit his grandfather called skeleton picnics.
When the couple didnít return by Sunday morning, the local sheriff asked Bureau of Land Management (BLM) law enforcement ranger J. D. Books to check on their home, as he lived close by. When he arrived, he found the house had been burglarized and their extensive collection of artifacts had been stolen.
Kane County Sheriff Charley Sutter organized a search and rescue mission aimed at locating the missing couple. Although the couple was not found, their campsite had been abandoned and evidence revealed they were likely attacked by unknown intruders. Because of Books years of experience as a robbery homicide detective in Denver, Sutter asked him to head up the search.
New deputy Beth Tanner joined Books on the case. They soon found out Rogers and his wife were not the first in the Four Corners area to go missing. When some of Rogersí stolen property showed up at a pawn shop, Brooks knew the team was looking into something serious. The deeper Books got into the case, the more he found he and his own family could be in danger.
Skeleton Picnic is the second in the J.D. Books mystery series written by Michael Norman following On Deadly Ground. He also wrote Silent Witness and The Commission, two books in the Sam Kincaid series.
The author delivers a rock-solid police procedural set in the Four Corners area of the Southwest. While most of the action is in southern Utah, desolate sections of Northern Arizona are also utilized. Norman has done his research and has created a tale that brings the area alive physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Norman has a strong sense of place. Readers will feel as if they are a part of the rugged landscape, not always a pleasant feeling. The sense of isolation and danger are palatable.
The non-stop story will keep readers turning pages far into the night. It is a difficult book to put down as each page further carries the storyline to its shocking but inevitable conclusion.
A special thank you goes to Poisoned Pen Press for a complimentary copy of Skeleton Picnic for our review. If you are interested in any of Michael Normanís novels, they are available at Amazon.com.