Saturday, February 13, 2016

SKELETON PICNIC, by Michael Norman


Chapter One of “SKELETON PICNIC” sets the scene, graphically depicting the evening Rolly and Abby Rogers, respected and established members of the small community of Kanab, Utah, are confronted right after setting up camp and proceeding to the nearby Indian ruins in search of ancient antiquities, illegal booty, a common and accepted practice in their small Mormon community. They are third generation pot hunters who collected anything they could wherever they could find it, and that included human bones, which is why his grandfather referred to these family outings as “skeleton picnics.” What had descended on them? Angry Indian ghost spirits, or evil greedy mortals? Were they killed, or do they live?
Enters J.D. Books, a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger, called upon by the Kane County Sheriff, Charley Sutter, when the Roger’s daughter files a missing person's report on her parents who went camping Friday afternoon, then missed church Sunday morning. Then the plot thickens when Officer Books goes to the Roger’s home to find it burglarized, and their unequaled personal collection of antiquities were gone; stolen. The potential pool of suspects are many since Rolly Roger’s was a history teacher in the small town of Kanab, and had been for years, and gave tours of his collection in his home on school field trips. Officer Books remembers one such field trip he had when he was a young boy and student of Mr. Rogers history class. As Officer Books begins to unravel the mystery he finds suspects spanning from the poorest most unfortunate of Kanab residents to the highest most privileged of the community, and unfortunately, one within his own family.
I love how this mystery was set up nice and neat in the first chapter, and the answers, at least to Rolly and Abby Roger’s mortality, aren’t answered until the last chapter. And, as in all good mystery’s, the twists and turns in between kept me on the edge of my seat. I also like that this is the second book in the J.D. Books Mysteries, and it didn’t matter a hill-of-beans that I hadn’t read the first book titled “ON DEADLY GROUND”.

As is the custom now-w days I checked out his author website at He is not a has been. “SKELETON PICNIC” was published in 2012. He acquired a Master’s degree from Northern Illinois University in 1969. I attribute his ability to so competently describe my part of the country, the southwest United States, to his being a retired journalism professor. If you’re a lover of mysteries you’ll love Michael Norman’s books. 

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