"Picnic in the Ruins" by Todd Robert Petersen

By Todd Robert Petersen

Reviewed by Andy

ISBN 9781640093225

Consider this plot: An archaeologist working in southern Utah documenting the impacts of tourism, in a soon-to-be shrunk National Monument, is hounded by pot-hunters and a wayward National Park Service Ranger working with a long-time local collector of antiquities. In addition, the local sheriff is feuding with the editor of the local newspaper while rumors abound of a federal crack-down on local private collections of artifacts. Meanwhile lobbyists for the uranium industry are drooling over lands soon to be open to development once the president shrinks the boundaries of this southern Utah monument. I mean come on--who could make this stuff up? And therein lies the problem with fictional accounts of your backyard; it all happened, or nearly so, and no matter how well written, Picnic in the Ruins by Todd Robert Petersen is bound to disappoint locals. However, if I remove my local shades, this novel is well crafted, with a mostly tight plot and evokes many of the emotions which come with a land we all love so well. Petersen alludes to events in southern Utah over the past ten years and captures us very well. Only thing missing was a local independent bookstore with a cranky owner.

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