Fritz Agency
Published by
Counterpoint (January 2021)
Current material
Crime & mystery fiction


by Petersen, Todd Robert

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?

Todd Robert Petersen 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.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Fritz Agency
Christian Dittus

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"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

Quote: Praise

"An edgy black comedy examining crucial issues of appropriation and antiquities theft in America."

Review: Library Journal

"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."

Review: Kirkus Reviews

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