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The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novelby Nancy Pickard
Synopses & Reviews
June 9, 2009
Until she was twenty-six, Jody Linder felt suspicious of happiness.
She hated that about herself, because it tended to sour some otherwise pretty damn fine moments, but this was Rose, Kansas, after all. Only the year before, a pencil tornado had dropped down and killed three people only a few miles from her hometown. A tornado, when the sun was shining In the winter, there were ice storms. In the summer, there were grass fires. At all times, people she knew went bankrupt, lost their homes, their ranches, their jobs. Or, they died just when you least expected them to. A person could, for instance, belong to a nice family living an ordinary life in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and on some innocent Saturday night, violent men could drop in like those tornadoes and turn those nice people into the dead stars of a Truman Capote book. Such things happened. That wasn't paranoia. It was a terrible fact that Jody knew better than anybody--or at least better than anybody whose father had not been murdered when she was three years old and whose mother had not disappeared the same night.
Such things happened, and she was proof of it.
Therefore--the past having proved to her the unreliability of the present--happiness made Jody Linder anxious. Feelings of safety and security got her checking around corners, lifting lids off bins, and parting shower curtains for fear of what might be hiding there, because you just never knew. A killer could hide in the corner, bugs lurked in bins, spiders jumped out of bathtubs.
Happiness was fragile, precious, and suspect.
No peak not followed by a fall, she believed, which explained her flutter of worry as she lay naked on top of her bed with Red Bosch in the middle of a suspiciously beautiful Kansas afternoon. The air smelled too good for such a hot day, the light penetrating her eyelet curtains looked too delicate for noon. Most foreboding of all, the sex with this man she didn't love had been too damned good to be trusted beyond the (admittedly fine) moments of her satisfaction and his. She'd kept her eyes open during the finale, which meant she'd caught Red smirking down at her, looking pleased with himself.
Don't flatter yourself, she'd nearly blurted, but then she thought, first of all, that wasn't kind and he didn't deserve it, and second of all, why shouldn't he flatter himself? Red was good at riding horses, rounding up cattle, baling hay, and this. She could hardly think of better talents in a man.
Pretty girl, Red murmured, tracing a lazy finger down her sternum.
Sweaty girl, Jody said, lifting his hand off and laying it back on his own damp belly.
He laughed, a self-satisfied growl, deep in his chest.
A hot, pollen-scented breeze blew through the open windows.
She smelled honeysuckle, which wasn't blooming yet, and lilac, which had already bloomed and gone. These things were impossible, they were all in her imagination, she knew, and they were just the sort of deceptions that the smallest feeling of contentment might spring on her.
She and Red lay sprawled on their backs like sated puppies who'd just had their bellies scratched for half an hour. Lying a few inches away from him, so their limbs couldn't touch and stick, Jody let out an irrepressible sigh of pleasure. Immediately, she wanted to take it back, suck the breath right back
Convinced of his father's innocence in the killing of Jody Linder's father, Collin Crosby returns Kansas with his ex-con father and provokes Jody to face the stunning mystery behind her tragic past, an investigation that endangers both Jody and Collin. By the author of The Virigin of Small Plains.
BONUS: This edition contains a The Scent of Rain and Lightning discussion guide.
One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder receives shocking news: The man convicted ofmurdering her father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-three years since that stormy night when her father was shot and killed and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Neither the protective embrace of Jody's three uncles nor the safe haven of her grandparents' ranch could erase the pain caused by Billy Crosby on that catastrophicnight.
Now Billy Crosby is free, thanks to the efforts of his son, Collin, a lawyer who has spent most of his life trying to prove his father's innocence. Despite their long history ofcarefully avoiding each other in such an insular community, Jody and Collin find that they share an exclusive sense of loss.
As Jody revisits old wounds, startling truths emerge about herfamily's tragic past. But even through struggle and hardship, she still dares to hope for a better future--and maybe even love.
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About the Author
\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.
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