Modern Lit: The Scent of Rain and Lightening, by Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain and LightningFirst Family

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

More than 20 years ago, Jody Linder’s parents were killed in the small town of Rose, Kansas. Everyone knew who did it – the mean, worthless Billy Crosby – and he was quickly convicted and imprisoned. Now Jodie’s uncles make a surprise visit, bearing alarming news. Crosby’s sentence has just been commuted, and he’s on his way back to Rose.

The book shifts between past and present and back again. The events leading up to her parents’ deaths and the discovery of the crime are recounted, during which the closeness of the Linders and their community becomes evident. Now the tension is mounting within town and family, and Jody is shocked to learn that not everyone believes that Crosby is guilty. Could he have been railroaded because of her family’s wealth and prominence? Forced to re-evaluate everything she had believed without question, Jody learns that even the best of families can hide ugly secrets. Even more importantly, she learns about forgiveness.

The Scent of Rain and Lightening creates an lyrical, iconic portrait of rural living and cattle ranching on the plains, a way of life that is gradually disappearing in America. Author Pickard creates characters out of whole cloth, people who remind us of ourselves and those we know. This might be considered a cold case crime novel, but it steps smartly out of that genre into the realm of literary fiction. Memorable and dramatic.

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