Map of Kansas Literature [graphic] dot Return to Kansas City
[graphic] dot Return to KANSAS MAP
Kansas locations associated with Nancy Pickard, including Small Plains, Hood County, Prairie Village, Kansas City
Photo of Nancy Pickard

Nancy Pickard

Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard


Bum Steer by Nancy Pickard


The Ring of Truth by Nancy Pickard


Storm Warnings by Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain Cover



     Kansas mystery author Nancy Pickard has created a twisted and tangled world of deception through sixteen modern day novels and the detailed developemnt of several enticing characters, her latest work being The Virgin of Small Plains. Mrs. Pickard resides in Prairie Village, Kansas, and spends a great deal of time traveling between Florida and her home. A multitde of her short stories have recieved recognition including th Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus awards for her short stories and the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her novels. The Los Angeles Times says, “Pickard pushes at the presumed limits of (crime fiction).” The San Diego Union says, “Nancy Pickard is acclaimed as one of today's best mystery writers.
    The following page is an informative dedication to the works of Nancy Pickard, designed with the intent of honoring and generating interest in yet another wonderful Kansas author.

See Nancy Pickard on Wikipedia.

Return to Top of Page

Published Work  

The Virgin of Small Plains

Nancy Pickard's latest mystery novel, The Virgin of Small Plains has been well received since it's release in April of 2006.

Murder in the rural Kansas town of Small Plains in the dead of winter! The frozen body of beautiful young girl is found by Sheriff Nathan Shellenberger and his sons, snow covered in a pasture. A twisted plot of lustful deception and cover up rips through the once slow paced farming community. Some of the most prevalent citizens of Small Plains, Kansas are determined to keep the truth buried when a long-ago murder resurfaces with devastating and deadly consequences.

Relevance: Kansas Murder Mystery

Nancy Pickard
Ballantine Books: April 2006
ISBN: 0345470990

 Bum Steer

Bum Steer is a 1989 Nancy Pickard addition to the Jenny Cain mystery novel series involving a Kansas ranch bequest valued at$4 million dollars. The benefactor, murdered!

Jenny finds herself quickly absorbed in the spiraling plot of deception, lust, money, and murder. In her plight for answers to the killing she is encompassed by thoughts of adultery with a charming young farm hand Quentin Harlan and his deep blue eyes. A multitude of suspicious suspects only make the truth harder to decipher. The Kansas Prairie seems determined to keep the truth buried deep beneath the cattle grass!

Relevance: Nancy Pickard: Jenny Cain Series, Kansas Murder Mystery

Nancy Pickard
Pocket Books: September 1991
ISBN: 0671680420

Additional Jenny Cain Series Novels:

  • Generous Death (1984)
  • Say No to Murder (1985)
  • No Body (1986)
  • Marriage Is Murder (1987)
  • Dead Crazy (1988)
  • Bum Steer (1989)
  • I.O.U. (1991)
  • But I Wouldn't Want to Die there (1993)
  • Confession (1994)
  • Twilight (1995)

Ring of Truth

Nancy Pickard facilitates the story line of Ring of Truth through the lens of her fictional crime writer Marie Lightfoot. Marie adopts a shocking Florida murder case as the plot line for her next big mystery seller. The research and composition of Marie novel in turn reveals the secrets of a love affair gone fatally wrong,yet disturbing twists leave Marie's questions unanswered.

The accused is a murderer is a preacher, who has allegedly killed his wife in collusion with his lover. In turn a pair of young girls find the body in an abandoned mansion, adding the death of innocence to the magnitude of the crime. A shattering conviction turns the case on end and for the first time in her career, Marie fails to win the killer's confidence during a jailhouse interview. Case closed right? Wrong!

An unexpected visitor confesses something that not even the police know. Is this revelation the missing piece in the terrifying murder puzzle? Read Ring of Truth and find out.

Relevance: Nancy Pickard: Marie Lightfoot Series, Florida Murder Mystery

Nancy Pickard
Pocket Books: June 2001
ISBN: 0671887971

Additional Marie Lightfoot Series Novels

  • The Whole Truth (2000)
  • Ring of Truth (2001)
  • The Truth Hurts (2002)

Storm Warnings

     Storm Warnings is comprised of a collection of mystery short stories that are interrelated by characters, plots, and ironically similar human tendencies. Nancy Pickard showcases mystery, murder, violence, and crime solving through nine different story lines. As the title portrays, each story issues a warning to the reader. Beware of your human tendencies and think logically before acting, it could be the last decision you ever make!

Relevance: Nancy Pickard: Short Stories, Mystery & Murder

Nancy Pickard
Thorndike Press: May 1999
ISBN: 0786218118

The Blue Corn Murders

In the Blue Corn Murders Nancy Pickard brings to us a third story line of her famous Eugenia Potter, as she stumbles upon some ancient pottery shards on her ranch, Eugenia feels a profound connection with the past. Eugenia quenches her deep desire to learn more about the relics and by heeding the call of her soul and visiting an archaeological camp amid the magnificent cliff dwellings of Colorado's Mesa Verde.

Something is just not right about at the Mesa Verde, the director has obvious increasing mental confusion and a mysterious and grisly death of a visitor. The camp calls on a traditional Native American ritual facilitated by the passing around of an ear of blue corn, even the Talking Circle cannot reveal the source of the trouble. The situation escalates when a busload of teenagers on a hiking trip disappears without a trace, Eugenia unearth a cruel scheme, a long-buried secret, and the deadly fruits of a killer's dark hungers.

Oh yes, blue corn recipes are included.

Relevance: Nancy Pickard: Eugenia Potter Series, Colorado Mesa Verde

Nancy Pickard
Bantam Dell Publishers: May 1999
ISBN: 0792722868


  • The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders (1993)
  • The Blue Corn Murders (1998)
  • The Secret Ingredient Murders (2001)

The Scent of Rain and Lightning

One beautiful summer afternnon, from her bedroom window on the second floor, Jody Linder 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 Hugh-Jay and Laurie Linder have been gone almost all of Jody's life. "What is the fearsome thing I see?" the young high school English teacher whiispers, mimicking Shakespeare. Polished boots, pressed jeans, fresh white shirts, Stetsons -- her uncles' suspiciously clean visiting clothes are a disturbing sign.

The three bring shocking news: The man convicted of murdering Jody's father is being released from prison and returning to the small twon of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-three years since that stormy night when her 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 on that catastrophoc night.

Now Billy Crosby's sentence has been commuted, 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. As Jody lives only a few doors down from teh Crosbys, she knows that sooner or later she'll come face-to-face withthe man who she believes destroyed her family.

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 had a long history of carefully avoiding each other's eyes. Now Jody disncovers that underneath their antagonism is a shared sense of loss that no one else could possibly understand. As she revisits old woulds, 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 darkest secrets -- where through stuggle and hardship people still dare to hope for a better future. For Jody Linder, maybe even love. **

**Taken from the dust jacket.

Relevance: Kansas Murder Mystery

Nancy Prickard
Ballantine Books: 2010
ISBN: 9780345471017

Return to Top of Page

Writing Samples  
  Bum Steer
Chapter 15

     We were almost the only traffic on the two-lane highway going west toward the Crossbones Ranch. But whenever we did pass somebody driving east, Slight and the other driver would raise their right index fingers off their steering wheels in a kind of salute. Sometimes, they nodded as well. Once a man driving a tractor-trailer rig waved with his whole arm-clearly a demonstrative type, probably cried at funerals.
     When a large dark car came over the horizon and drew near us, I expected Slight to give the driver the same cool one-fingered greeting. Instead, he slowed and then came to a complete stop in our lane. The Caddy halted in its lane, too...

—From Bum Steer by Nancy Pickard
Pocket Books: September 1995

Kansas Country Road
—Photo Courtesy of Kansas Geological Survey

The Virgin of Small Plains
Chapter 1

     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’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.

—From Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard-
Ballantine Books: April 2006

Snow on the Kansas Prairie
—Photo Courtesy of Kansas Geological Survey

Return to Top of Page

Map Locations

  From West to East

Small Plains: Fictional location in Kansas that propagates the story line and conflict in Virgin of Small Plains. The actual location is Alta Vista.

“Hood County”: Fictional county in Kansas that appears in Nancy Pickards' novel Bum Steer. The actual location is Wabaunsee County.

Return to Top of Page


Return to Top of Page



[ WU Home ] [ Directory ] [ A-Z Index ] [ Sitemap ] [ Contact WU ] [ Statements & Disclosures ] [ Accessibility ] [ Search ]
© 2015 Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66621 785.670.1010
Contact with questions or comments.