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Picnic in the Ruins

List Price: $16.95

ON SALE: January 5, 2021 | Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN 9781640093225
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Part mystery; part quirky, darkly funny, mayhem-filled thriller; and part meditation on what it means to ‘own’ land, artifacts, and the narrative of history in the West . . . A fast-paced, highly entertaining hybrid of Tony Hillerman and Edward Abbey. —Kirkus Reviews

Anthropologist Sophia Shepard is researching the impact of tourism on cultural sites in a remote national monument on the Utah-Arizona border when she crosses paths with two small-time criminals. The Ashdown brothers were hired to steal maps from a collector of Native American artifacts, but their ineptitude has alerted the local sheriff to their presence. Their employer, a former lobbyist seeking lucrative monument land that may soon be open to energy exploration, sends a fixer to clean up their mess. Suddenly, Sophia must put her theories to the test in the real world, and the stakes are higher than she could have ever imagined.

What begins as a madcap caper across the RV-strewn vacation lands of southern Utah becomes a meditation on mythology, authenticity, the ethics of preservation, and one nagging question: Who owns the past?

About Todd Robert Petersen

TODD ROBERT PETERSEN grew up in Portland, Oregon, and now teaches film studies and creative writing at Southern Utah University. Petersen's previous books include Long After Dark, Rift, and It Needs to Look Like We Tried. He and his family live in Cedar City, Utah, on the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau.

Praise
Petersen's tightly written mystery plays out over the vast, unforgiving terrain on the Utah-Arizona border with a lineup of unforgettable characters . . . Petersen delivers a fast-paced chase over a hostile landscape while underscoring the past and present threats to Native American antiquities. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride. --Library Journal (starred review)

A rollicking mystery . . . Peterson keeps up plenty of action and suspense while also offering philosophical insights on who owns the land. Peterson's offbeat adventure keeps the reader turning the pages. --Publishers Weekly

Part mystery; part quirky, darkly funny, mayhem-filled thriller; and part meditation on what it means to 'own' land, artifacts, and the narrative of history in the West . . . A fast-paced, highly entertaining hybrid of Tony Hillerman and Edward Abbey. --Kirkus Reviews

Blending dark comedy and crime fiction, Petersen examines a moment in time that exquisitely reveals timeless and far-reaching themes . . . An excellent read for those who enjoy thrillers set in the Southwest and readers interested in the preservation of history and culture. --Booklist

In this twenty-first-century fusion of Zane Grey, Tony Hillerman, and Craig Childs, Todd Robert Petersen gives us a page-turner of a murder mystery. --Stephen Trimble, editor of Red Rock Stories

A murderously addictive thrill-ride through the remote, rugged Utah-Arizona borderlands, where looting and vandalism of ancient cultural sites remain all too prevalent. --Scott Graham, National Outdoor Book Award-winning author of Mesa Verde Victim

Reading Picnic in the Ruins is like watching a Tarantino film--scenes unfold to reveal a cast of divergent characters who are destined to collide; and when they do, you won't want to look away. Todd Robert Petersen delivers a roller coaster of a book! --Margaret Mizushima, award-winning author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, including Hanging Falls

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