Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Questionable practice. High dollar return. Outrage from an effected ethnic group. The potential outcomes from a seemingly innocent “skeleton picnic” can range from riches to uproar. But for one prominent family swept up in this lucrative and ethically questionable pastime, it results in their disappearance.
Author Michael Norman releases his sophomore installment of the J.D. Books Mystery Series titled, Skeleton Picnic. Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Ranger Books—already introduced in Norman’s previous novel, On Deadly Ground—finds himself in the middle of a missing person’s case along the Arizona Strip.
As he searches for a couple, well-known in the underground practice of unearthing Native American grave sites which they call “skeleton picnics”, Books realizes there are as many avid supporters of the custom as there are angry protestors. His list of possible suspects grows by the day as he wonders what their chances are of still being found alive. As he ponders multiple possibilities, the clock continues to tick as Books gets closer to the dangerous truth.
Simply put, Skeleton Picnic is a fun summer read. It was suspenseful without being overly stress-filled and it coaxed me along from one page to the next. The characters are memorable, well-developed, and easy to root for. It’s obvious that the author is well-acquainted with the areas he uses for his settings; the vivid details put the reader right in the middle of the places being described with ease.
For the most part, I found the book to be well edited but I did find two glaring errors, though they didn’t make much difference to the story, they did stand out.
Skeleton Picnic is a great pick for those who enjoy suspense novels, Native American fiction, and mysteries. Author Norman writes with a style that flows along, easily bringing his readers along for a fascinating ride. My favorite summer read yet!
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (April 3, 2012)