Reader's Comments
The Scent of Rain and Lightning By Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain And Lightning

By Nancy Pickard

PBR Book Review:

This is one of those rare books that synchronizes characters, plot, and pacing to perfection. The story centers on Jody Linder, who at age three tragically loses both her parents in one night. One is murdered, the other goes missing. As the book opens, the man accused of this crime, Billy Crosby, is unexpectedly released from prison after serving 20+ years of his life sentence. From here, through flashbacks, the story unfolds and the mystery builds. Pickard’s descriptive skills are masterful. She brings to life rural life on a ranch and presents multi faceted very believable characters. She captures the subtleties of human interaction, presents real life situations and shows the politics of small town psychology. She also keeps you guessing. Was the right man convicted? There are enough twists and surprises, so that once started, the book is hard to put down. Although categorized as a mystery, it’s a book to be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good story.

Book Club Talking Points:

The basic premises of this book is a who-done-it mystery but more importantly it's a story about family, relationships, honesty and integrity. Nancy Pickard creates complicated relationships between the family members, friends and town residents and captures life in a rural town. There are plenty of power struggles within the family unit and with town residents as well as male/female issues and class struggles. The guilt or innocence of the man accued of the crime is also questionable.

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*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: “The Virgin of Small Plains”, “Marie Lightfoot”,“Jenny Cain”,“Short Story Anthologies”,“Seven Steps on the Writer's Path”,“There Is No Crime on Easter Island”,“The First Ladies’ Secret”,“I Owe It All to Nancy Drew”,“ A Celestial Press Conference”,“ Eugenia Potter”,

*Discussion Questions

1. The Scent of Rain and Lightning revolves around the theme of revenge. What does this novel tell us about the nature of revenge?

2. The theme of forgiveness also plays a large role in the novel. How does the story reveal the challenges of forgiveness? Are the characters clearly in one camp or the other (revenge or forgiveness)? If so, how would you divide them? And which characters, if any, bridge these emotions?

3. What role does the community play in Billy’s conviction? Can it be held culpable?

4. How does the author use weather and landscape as symbols in her writing?

5. Why does Pickard title her novel as she does? What is the meaning behind it?

6. Having read the novel, do you think it’s better or worse to live in a small town when dealing with a personal tragedy?

7. What is the significance of the Testament Rocks?

8. The Linders are portrayed as being the most influential family in the county. Do you think their power corrupted them in any way? Do you think they tried to be good people?

9. Even with the best intentions, good people can make terrible mistakes. Do you think the Linders had good intentions? At what points did those intentions go wrong?

10. What clues in the book led you to guess the true identity of the killer? Who do you think the real murderer is?

11. Do you think Pickard laid sufficient groundwork for the discovery of the killer’s identity to be believable? Can a person really hide their true character from so much family so successfully for so many years?

12. Now that the truth is known, do you think that Jody Linder and Collin Crosby can ever truly be together?

Book Summary
From the Publisher: 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.
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