The Scent of Rain and Lightning
By Nancy Pickard
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345471017, 336pp.)
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
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One beautiful summer afternoon, from her bedroom window on the second floor, Jody Linder is unnerved to see her three uncles parking their pickups in front of her parents’ house—or what she calls her parents’ house, even though Jay and Laurie Jo Linder have been gone almost all of Jody’s life. “What is this fearsome thing I see?” the young high school English teacher whispers, mimicking Shakespeare. Polished boots, pressed jeans, fresh white shirts, Stetsons—her uncles’ suspiciously clean visiting clothes are a disturbing sign.
The three bring shocking news: The man convicted of murdering Jody’s father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-six years since that stormy night when, as baby Jody lay asleep in her crib, her father was shot and killed and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Neither the protective embrace of Jody’s uncles nor the safe haven of her grandparents’ ranch could erase the pain caused by Billy Crosby on that catastrophic night.
Now Billy Crosby has been granted a new trial, thanks in large part to the efforts of his son, Collin, a lawyer who has spent most of his life trying to prove his father’s innocence. As Jody lives only a few doors down from the Crosbys, she knows that sooner or later she’ll come face-to-face with the man who she believes destroyed her family.
What she doesn’t expect are the heated exchanges with Collin. Having grown up practically side by side in this very small town, Jody and Collin have had a long history of carefully avoiding each other’s eyes. Now Jody discovers that underneath their antagonism is a shared sense of loss that no one else could possibly understand. As she revisits old wounds, startling revelations compel her to uncover the dangerous truth about her family’s tragic past.
Engrossing, lyrical, and suspenseful, The Scent of Rain and Lightning captures the essence of small-town America—its heartfelt intimacy and its darkest secrets—where through struggle and hardship people still dare to hope for a better future. For Jody Linder, maybe even love.
Nancy Pickard is a four-time Edgar Award nominee, most recently for her Ballantine debut, The Virgin of Small Plains. She is the winner of the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and three Agatha Awards. Her short stories have also won numerous accolades. Pickard has been a national board member of the Mystery Writers of America and president of Sisters in Crime, and she is a member of PEN. She lives in Merriam, Kansas.
“Pickard has the storytelling gift.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Nancy] Pickard writes richly textured fiction about families and relationships, about hatred and lust and love, about loyalty and betrayal, and most of all about the corrosive power of secrets.”—The Boston Globe
“A novel that simultaneously qualifies as a gripping read, a master character study and as literary . . . exceedingly rare.”—The Kansas City Star
“Pickard’s tales of Kansas life are filled with gravitas and small-town drama. . . . The Scent of Rain and Lightning seems certain to earn her a much-deserved larger audience.”—The Denver Post