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The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novel by [Pickard, Nancy]
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The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With exquisite sensitivity, Edgar-finalist Pickard (The Virgin of Small Plains) probes a smoldering cold case involving the Linders, a cattle ranching family that's ruled the small, tight-knit community of Rose, Kans., for generations. One stormy night in 1986, someone shoots Hugh-Jay Linder dead, and Laurie, his discontented young wife, disappears. The authorities arrest Billy Crosby, a disgruntled ex-employee of High Rock Ranch with a drunk-driving record, in whose abandoned truck Laurie's bloodied sundress is found. In 2009, Billy's lawyer son, Collin, who's certain of his dad's innocence, secures Billy's release from prison and a new trial. Father and son return to Rose, where 25-year-old Jody Linder, the victims' daughter, works as a teacher. Collin's pursuit of justice will force Jody and other members of her family, including her three uncles and her grandparents, to finally confront what really happened on that long ago fatal night and deal with the consequences. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A decades-old mystery is solved and a woman’s haunting questions put to rest in Pickard’s latest thriller. When she was just three years old, Jody Linder lost both parents in one night, when her father, Hugh Jay—eldest son of the wealthiest rancher in the small town of Rose, Kansas—was killed and her mother, Laurie, vanished. Raised by grandparents, Hugh Senior and Annabelle Linder, and with loving support from three uncles, Jody spends years collecting human detritus around the area’s towering Testament Rocks, where authorities once searched for clues to Laurie’s disappearance. Jody’s world is rocked 23 years later when Billy Crosby, the vicious drunk convicted of her father’s murder on circumstantial evidence, is released for a new trial; his return to town brings events to a head. In her second stand-alone (after The Virgin of Small Plains, 2006), Pickard shows her storytelling skills, weaving elements of deception, revenge, and romance into a novel with full-bodied characters who deal with tragedy as best they can; Annabelle Linder’s encounter with Crosby’s wife is particularly moving. From an award-winning author, this is engrossing fiction with an eminently satisfying denouement. --Michele Leber

Product Details

  • File Size: 3622 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (April 15, 2010)
  • Publication Date: May 4, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4AC2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,092 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ms. T VINE VOICE on March 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard was the best novel I've read in a long time. The first couple of pages grabbed me--there was no reading half the book before I decided I liked it. Pickard writes in an easy style about people and life in Kansas, but it could be any rural/ranching setting. The characters were described so perfectly that I felt like I grew up with them. This is a murder mystery, but it's definitely not your typical who-done-it. The plot unfolds gently--no harsh, sharp twists and turns. It's also a love story and a story of a close-knit family. It has everything but nothing is contrived; it's all very natural and believable. I think the best way to describe the book is that it's a gentle, easy story about some ungentle events. I can understand why Pickard has received so many awards. She is a great American author; in my opinion on the same level as Twain and Steinbeck. This book is a MUST READ.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I recommend this book very highly.

Jody Linder is shocked and horrified to find that Billy Crosby, the man convicted of killing her father and probably her mother, is out of prison and going to be retried. She was three when the murder happened and knows only what she has been told by her family. Billy's son, Collin, was seven at the time, and became an attorney when he grew up. He convinced a judge that Billy was unfairly convicted.

Jody discovered that many people had thought that Billy was too drunk to do the murder, but were perfectly happy to see him go to prison. He was very hot-tempered, had a chip on his shoulder, was a drunkard and a nasty drunk at that, a wife abuser, and always felt that he didn't do anything wrong. The townspeople are uneasy that he is out of prison and back in town.

A lot of history is uncovered, and you finally discover exactly what happened that night years earlier.

Nancy Pickard writes great stories. I've never read one that disappointed me.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There was plenty to like in this book; the Linders, the family at the center of this story, are a large, lovable, humorous and real family, and I loved reading about them. Pickard does a flawless job with the landscape and the portrayal of cattle ranching. She has a terrific ear for dialog. But at about midway, it seemed the clues were being dropped so heavily that I could almost hear them landing. I decided I'd figured out the entire mystery. It turned out that I was absolutely wrong in what I'd thought, which should have been a good thing, yes? But near the end, the book veered off into a story that was so unlikely and melodramatic that I was rolling my eyes. I felt very let down by how the story developed and ended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Is Nancy Pickard's latest book a literary novel with an interesting mystery, or is it a mystery with unusual depth? I am not sure, but I AM sure that it is a great read!

The basic story is that young Jody Linder has returned to her small ranching town of Rose, Kansas, to teach English. Soon after she moves into the family home that she inherited from her parents at the age of three after her father was murdered and her mother disappeared, her uncles give her the unwelcome news that Billy Crosby, who had been convicted of killing her father and was presumed to have killed her mother, has been released from prison and given a new trial thanks to the efforts of his son Collin, who was 7 when his father went to prison and who is now an attorney. The book then shifts between present-day 2009 and 1986, the time leading up to and following the murders.

The suspense is handled beautifully. The reader becomes aware of the murders in Chapter 1, in which her uncles tell Jody about Billy Crosby's impending release. In the next section, which switches to 1986, the reader is introduced to both the likeable and the less attractive members of the Linder family. I was caught up both by the interesting relationships within the clan and by the growing suspense of "When is this murder going to happen and how?" "Am I going to learn if Crosby really did it?" The story then turns into an exploration of the effects of this brutal event on the Linder and Crosby families and, indeed, the whole town. The suspense is provided by trying to decide "whodunit" , and Pickard gives us a number of reasonable possibilities.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Scent of Rain and Lightning centers around the murders of Hugh-Jay and Laurie Linder, a young husband and wife with a small daughter. Twenty years later, when the convicted killer's verdict is overturned and he is released, the victims' family members, including their now adult daughter Jody, who barely remembers her parents, are forced to come to terms with what really happened 20 years ago and the truth about their loved ones.

I thought this novel was surprisingly good. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of the difference between innocent and not guilty, a rather tricky moral question. The main characters, including Jody and her murdered parents are intricate and convincing, and the supporting characters all have a sense of depth that is often missing from this type of half mystery-half family drama. I found the conclusion to the book's central mystery suprising and satisfying, but I thought the way the characters eventually uncovered the truth was far-fetched and unrealistic. Still, this book was well worth reading, and I'd encourage other to read it.
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