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That’s the beauty of Gilbert’s performance of this novel; you want to believe everything she says. We’ve been trained to trust that all Midwesterners especially characters from a small Kansas farming town like Rose mean exactly what they say. But like David Lynch’s disturbing film Blue Velvet or Grace Metalious’ scandalous novel Peyton Place, Pickard’s tale reminds us there’s often a hidden, darker side to some seemingly picture-perfect Norman Rockwell-esque towns.
The Scent of Rain and Lightning revolves around one fateful, stormy night 26 years ago. That night, someone brutally murders rancher Jay Linder in his home and Linder’s wife, Laurie, vanishes forever like one of the streaks of lightning flashing across the sky late that evening. Immediately, all the clues and fingers point to Billy Crosby, the violent ranch hand harboring a grudge against the Linder family. Crosby insists he did nothing wrong, but he’s soon sent to jail for the Linder murder. And for decades, Jay and Laurie’s orphaned daughter, Jody, grows up believing justice was served when Crosby was sent off to prison.
Then one morning, Jody’s uncles tell her that Crosby has been released from prison and will soon be returning to town. And worst of all, Crosby got out of jail thanks to the help of his son, Collin, a quiet, intelligent, determined lawyer nearly the same age as Jody a person she feels repulsed by and yet inexplicably drawn to at the same time. And as the novel further unfolds and more details come to light, Jody must confront the past and question everything she thought was true in her life.
The Scent of Rain and Lightning starts off slowly. But like the smoldering embers of a forest fire, the story quickly bursts to life, grips your attention, and keeps you guessing right up until the final, fateful scenes. Ken Ross
One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder, a young English teacher, 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 they have been gone almost all of Jody’s life. 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 26 years since that stormy night when Jody’s 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 that night. Now Billy 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.
Jody knows that sooner or later she’ll come face-to-face with the man who she believes destroyed her family. But 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 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Maddie on 07-02-10
Really good book; poorly chosen narrator
I would probably give this book a 5-star rating if it weren't for the narrator. While she did her darndest to give an interesting and gripping telling of the story, her seeming complete lack of understanding of western Kansas accents and pronunciations was disconcerting to me. Were I a resident of the area, I would be insulted at the interpretation -- especially of the men's voices and accents. She would probably be excellent in other, more urban book settings. She is out of her league with this one.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 11-08-11
I'm from Kansas
and the accents used by this narrator are extremely irritating and insulting. The narrator obviously didn't bother to do any research. We don't have Southern accents - except for the few of us who actually moved here from a Southern state. More importantly, the narrator's inflections make it obvious she believes we're illiterate hicks. She's the one who needs educating. It would have been fun to enjoy a story based in Kansas, but that fun was ruined by the ignorant narration.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful