"SKELETON PICNIC," by Michael Norman, Poisoned Pen Press, $14.95, 250 pages (f)
Retired school teacher Rolly Rogers and his wife are headed to the Southern Utah desert for their first "skeleton picnic" of the season. Folks in their small town of Kanab know that means: They are off to the desert in search of ancient Indian antiquities.
But when they don’t return and their camper and equipment are found abandoned near an apparent Anasazi ruin, everyone knows something is wrong.
In his new book, “Skeleton Picnic,” Utah author Michael Norman returns to the beautiful deserts of southern Utah and the adventurous life of BLM Ranger, J.D. Books. The hard-charging, hard-drinking officer has recovered from his injuries in the previous story, “On Deadly Ground,” and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life.
Besides his work, two major personal points of interest stand out for Books. First, he has started a romance with the lovely Becky Eddins, a local attorney. And then there is the attractive new deputy the sheriff’s department has just hired, Beth Tanner. Both women will become very important to Books before this crime is solved.
What Books doesn’t suspect is that this case will turn into something more than a simple case of missing persons. Before he can solve the mystery of the Rogers’ disappearance, he will be confronted with family issues that have festered for years and have the potential to change his whole career. And his relationship with Becky will be greatly tested when she is assigned as the public defender for one of the suspects in the case.
Filled with intrigue, adventure, family struggles and even some romance, “Skeleton Picnic” takes the reader into the world of illegal pot hunting and law enforcement efforts to derail the practice. With a wide range of criminal justice experience, Norman paints an interesting and entertaining picture of both sides of the law in this profitable but dangerous business.
It does have some crude and profane language that may offend. Though set in a Mormon community, the majority of the characters do not seem to live a lifestyle of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
If you go
What: Michael Norman book signing
When: Tuesday, May 22, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City