Skeleton Picnic: A J. D. Books Mystery
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: April 2012
Duration: 7 hours 25 minutes
Rolly and Abigail Rogers, residents of Kanab, Utah, come from a long line of dedicated pot hunters who scour the desert southwest in search of valuable antiquities. When the couple fails to return from a weekend "skeleton picnic," a pot-hunting trip, along the desolate Arizona Strip, local Sheriff Charley Sutter enlists the help of J. D. Books, law enforcement ranger with the Bureau of Land Management.
When Books searches the missing couple's home for clues about their disappearance, he discovers that the house has been burglarized and a valuable collection of ancient Anasazi and Fremont Indian antiquities has been stolen. Soon a search-and-rescue operation finds the Rogers' truck and trailer at an abandoned campsite near an ancient Anasazi ruin that has been recently excavated. The evidence there leads Books to conclude that Rolly and Abigail were overpowered by a group of assailants.
Sheriff Sutter assigns an attractive young deputy, Beth Tanner, to investigate the burglary of the Rogers' home under the watchful eye of Books. Together they track some of the stolen property to a pawn shop in the nearby town of St. George and, ultimately, to a young Navajo man with a criminal record and a serious drug problem. Keeping this man alive long enough to make him talk, however, proves difficult.
Books and Tanner soon learn of a shadowy group of armed Indian police who patrol vast areas of tribal and federal lands in search of anyone desecrating ancient Native American burial sites. They also discover other unsolved disappearances in the region. Could the disappearance of the Rogers and others be the responsibility of this group?
As Books and Tanner close in on those responsible, Books' own survival skills will be tested when he is unwittingly drawn into a remote part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There he is forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse, in which the hunter becomes the hunted and only one person gets to go home alive.
"This impressive debut from a criminal justice professor and former lawman exudes verisimilitude from start to finish."-Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Commission