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Friday, September 24, 2010

Got Mystery?

The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Nancy Pickard

Ballantine Books, 2010

One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder is unnerved to see her three uncles parking their pickups in front of her parents’ house unannounced. Of course, this house is not really her parent’s house anymore since Jay and Laurie Joe have been gone almost all of Jody’s life, but she still has trouble thinking of their house as hers even though she is now grown up. “What is this fearsome thing I see?” the young high school English teacher whispers, quoting Shakespeare as she watches them from the second floor window. 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. Twenty-six years ago, Jody’s father Jay was shot and killed and her mother Laurie Jo disappeared, presumed dead. Jody went to live with her loving grandparents and caring uncles, but nothing could replace her parents. She always wondered what happened to her mother and would often search for any clues to explain her disappearance. Now, her father’s killer, 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.

An old murder that was seemingly solved many years ago comes back to haunt the victims of the crime, stirring up old fears, prejudices and once again dividing the town into opposing sides. This time, however, many people believe that Jody’s family unfairly used their power as town leaders to influence the murder investigation, thereby putting an innocent man in jail. Because Jody was so young when her parents were killed, she doesn’t know what to believe and feels pulled in different directions by the situation. This mystery is light on the whodunit question and heavy on the character development of Jody, her grandmother, and Collin, the son of the accused man. The three could be considered victims of the long ago crime and their conflicting feelings provide a thoughtful study of the effects this action so many years ago had on their lives. Mystery buffs may be disappointed in the lack of plot development and wish clues had been provided for the reader, but I liked the characters and enjoyed the story despite a lackluster and anticlimactic ending.


The author has a string of mysteries to her credit.
Look them up at!

Other titles you may enjoy:

Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie (1997)
When the talented and tormented poet Lydia dies after a prior suicide attempt, it is assumed that she has taken her own life. Victoria McClellan. a feminist biographer at Cambridge, finds herself immersed in the poet's world. Uneasy about the manner of Lydia's death, Vic calls on her ex-husband, Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, for help. But before he can take action, Vic herself is dead -- and there's no question that this one is murder. As Kincaid investigates, they are exposed to secrets that have reached out over three decades and poisoned a dozen lives.

Last Post by Robert Barnard (2008)
A mysterious envelope arrives on Eve McNabb's doorstep soon after she has buried her mother, a woman who kept many secrets. The puzzling letter inside this envelope hints at an illicit passion between the letter writer and Eve's mother, May McNabb. Even when she was a child, Eve sensed that there were parts of May's life she would never understand. She would never know the details of her parents' marriage or why her father suddenly disappeared from her life. While Eve has always believed that her father was dead, she begins to wonder whether her mother's life as a widow had been a ruse and she sets out to find the answer.

What We Remember by Michael Thomas Ford (2009)
When the body of sheriff Daniel McCloud, who went missing seven years ago, is discovered buried in a box in the woods, the family must come to terms with the murder of their father. As the investigation by the current sheriff, Nate Derry, progresses, McCloud's son, James, becomes the prime suspect, and a dark web of deception that chokes the Derry and McCloud families threatens to be unearthed.

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