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She had whooped with joy upon landing that job, but immediately tamped down her exuberance, because who knew how long she could stay employed in such an iffy economy? And what if she wasn't a good teacher, or the kids hated her, or their parents objected to Catcher in the Rye? There were so many things that could go wrong after something went right. Tense as fresh-strung barbed wire, she watched from the second floor. Three truck doors slammed, bang, bang, bang, with the solid thud of well-built vehicles.

Now her uncles were walking toward each other. What were they doing here, and why didn't she know anything about it? Uncle Chase was supposed to be in Colorado, running the family's ranch on the high plains east of the Rockies; Uncle Bobby was supposed to be in Nebraska, where he ran a third ranch the family owned, in the Sand Hills. Uncle Meryl was supposed to be at his law office in Henderson City, the county seat, twenty-five miles away.

The hats, alone, were a disturbing sign. The uncles usually wore their best hats only to weddings, funerals, and cattlemen conventions, preferring brimmed caps for everyday. Meryl even wore a bolo tie and one of the hideous plaid suit coats that her aunt Belle had never been able to excise from his wardrobe. He had matched it with a reddish-brown pair of polyester trousers that made Jody, even two stories up, wrinkle her nose.

Their trucks also looked suspiciously clean, as for making formal calls. They wouldn't have done all this for just any casual visit. When her uncles went formal-visiting, they showered first and changed into clean clothes. Jody's grandmother, who was the mother of two of these men and a near-mother to the third one, wouldn't stand for any less.

If a male in Jody's family stepped into somebody's house, he would, by God, smell of soap. Her uncle Bobby might be forty-one years old, her uncle Chase might be forty-four, and Uncle Meryl might be forty-six and have married into the family instead of being born into it, but they lived by the laws that all Linders lived by, the commandments that Jody's grandparents, Hugh Senior and Annabelle Linder, set down. You didn't show up in church dirty and smelling of horse.

You didn't take your cow-shitty work boots into other people's nice living rooms. Most important of all, you didn't show up at somebody's house without calling ahead first, even if that somebody was only your niece. They hadn't called first. She hadn't known they were coming. And then they really scared her, because they rang her doorbell. Only after that unprecedented announcement of their arrival did she hear her front door open, and a moment later her uncle Chase called out in his smoky baritone, "Josephus?

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Joe-see-fuss was her three uncles' nickname for her. She clutched a fist to her naked breasts: had something happened at the ranch? Was it her grandfather Hugh Senior, was it her grandmother Annabelle? She didn't know what she would do without either of them; they had been the rocks of her life since her parents had gone.

You home? In a flash Jody thought of their various wives and ex-wives, their assorted children and stepchildren who were her cousins and sort-of cousins. There were so many disasters that could happen on a cattle outfit. So many ways to get hurt, so many ways to end up in hospitals or funeral homes, so many ways to break hearts and families. She couldn't think of any minor calamities that would prompt her uncles to pay a special visit like this to her. She felt shocked, albeit without being surprised at all, since she believed that bad events followed good as inevitably as death followed life, and as frequently.

The secret, she had decided when she was younger, was to try to anticipate it, so as to mitigate the blow. The problem with that philosophy was that it never worked; she was always surprised; no matter how far ahead she tried to look, bad news still hurt, shock still left her shaken. With a start, she realized she hadn't answered, so she yelled in a high voice, "I'm home, Uncle Chase! I'm upstairs, I'll be right there! God, no.


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On the bed, Red had bolted up to a sitting position at the first sound of that voice, which was the voice of one of the members of his extended family of employers. He also heard the terrifying offer to climb the stairs, and now he was trying to scurry out of bed and get dressed fast and silently. How does she use weather and landscape as symbols in her writing? The Linders are portrayed as the most influential family in the county. What responsibility comes with such influence?

Do any of the Linders abuse their power, despite their good intentions? Though Hugh Linder, Sr. The Scent of Rain and Lightning revolves around the theme of revenge. What does this novel tell us about the nature of revenge?

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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? Can a person really hide his or her true character from his or her family so successfully for so many years? In the last moments of her life, Laurie seemed to have recognized the errors of her ways. If the tragedy never occurred and Laurie had the chance to grow old, would she have matured and become a better person, wife, and mother?

See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder receives shocking news: The man convicted of murdering her father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas.

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Write a Review. Related Searches. Cover of Snow. Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled View Product. Fade Away Myron Bolitar Series 3. Heat Wave. After her As a partner at one of New York's most prestigious law firms, Alexandra Parker barely As a partner at one of New York's most prestigious law firms, Alexandra Parker barely manages to juggle husband, career, and the three-year-old child she gave birth to at forty. Night Villa. The Linder family owned a huge cattle ranch, and every family member except Belle along with hired hands, which included Billy Crosby, worked for them.

Hugh-Jay Linder woke up one morning to broken fences and a dead, pregnant cow Hugh-Jay planned a scenario to get Billy at the ranch and have him arrested for the crime. As a thunderstorm is raging outside the tavern where the Linder children are enjoying their evening, along comes Billy Crosby saying there was no evidence that he broke the fences and killed the cow, and he was free and clear When everyone woke up the next morning, Annabelle Linder was rounding up her children to get some pancakes at a local restaurant.

She had to go to her son's house to waken him and his wife but found the doors all locked, and that was unusual. She then found her son dead in an upstairs bedroom Billy Crosby was of course the sole suspect because of his previous actions and drunkenness from the night before and a trial took place. The trial of Billy Crosby got him forty plus twenty years in prison for the murder Billy's wife and son. Valentine and Collin were ostracized in the town, and poor Collin had a rough time at school as well.

Along with mourning their son and his wife, the senior Linders had to raise Jody and help her cope with the tragedy. It was a difficult ordeal for everyone. When things finally started getting back to normal, Billy Crosby is released from jail and the fear, memories, and pain all surface again. What made the release worse was the talk that some folks believed Billy never did kill Jody's parents, and that he had been framed.

Events lead to more trouble for the small town of Rose, Kansas, and the Linder family. The ending is a little predictable, but also a surprise. You will like the story. The ending is definitely a page turner. The love and the kindness the Linder family has for everyone draws you into the storyline. Jul 31, Elizabeth Salom elistar rated it liked it Shelves: , book-club , it-was-ok , historical-fiction. While on some levels I did like this book, as a whole I found it to be mostly disappointing.

It started out as a typical "whodunnit" and while it could have actually been a good one, about three quarters in it felt like Ms. Pickard ran out of steam. It ended so abruptly, without any real sense of closure for any of the characters or any explanation of how their lives were affected by the unexpected ending. I just didn't feel satisfied. I kept expecting to gain some insight into the main characte While on some levels I did like this book, as a whole I found it to be mostly disappointing. I kept expecting to gain some insight into the main character's mind, but Pickard spent more time developing the supporting characters than she did with the narrator.

Given, some of the characters were lovable or memorable - I enjoyed the back story leading up to the murder much more than the ending itself - in those chapters, where Pickard was writing in ominscient narrative, I felt much more connected to the characters and to their stories. First person narrative just didn't work as well. I'll give Ms. Pickard credit for decent writing and suspense building. But this book could have been so much better. Too bad. Copied from my book blog, www. Feb 15, Sarah Ryburn rated it it was ok Shelves: first-reads. Review: Pickard's novel is my first "first-reads" selection.

I was drawn to it by the description of Pickard's writing as "blurring the lines between mystery and literary fiction. She does have some nicely turned phrases: " The "she" of the quote is young Jody Linder whose parents were killed when she was three. The man imprisoned for their murders has been released from prison after twenty-three years, and he's the "beast" slouching toward Rose, Kansas, the setting of the novel and scene of the murders. A bit of a stretch, too, to think that Pickard had Yeats's poem in mind when she penned those lines; still, it was a good simile and much better than others like "tense as fresh-strung barbed wire" or the author's description of jody and her cowboy-lover after sex "sprawled on their backs like sated puppies who'd just had their bellies scratched for half an hour.

The use of simile improves a bit, it seemed to me, as the author relaxes more into the story, but the characters remain rather stock and uninteresting. The shame of it is that the book might have been more interesting if pickard had focused on the character of the murderer, written the novel around him as a sort of anti-hero, rather than simply revealing his identity at the end remember, it's a mystery, right?


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  • Instead, we learn of his crimes almost as an afterthought or, worse, as an ill-timed and thinly disguised Deus ex Machina serving entirely to remove the obstacles that threaten to keep our heroine, Jody, from a happily-ever-after romance with her father's formerly alleged murderer's son cum love interest, if you follow that. Mar 10, Kari rated it really liked it. By page six, she has set up the framework of her novel and by the end of the first chapter, the reader is hooked on a tale of murder, mystery, family and love.

    Jody Linder is infamous in the town of Rose, Kansas. From that night on, three-year-old Jody Some writers ease the reader into their story, but Nancy Pickard dives right in with The Scent of Rain and Lightning. From that night on, three-year-old Jody Linder was a girl with a story. The same town that coddled Jody treated Collin like a pariah as the two grew up side by side.

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    Despite avoiding each other for their entire lives, Jody and Collin have a connection, and with this new case, Jody begins to see that hers was not the only life affected by this tragedy. Pickard constructs a puzzle of interlocking events into which, as the story progresses, we slowly see how each character fits. The Scent of Rain and Lightning grabs you from the beginning, and Pickard holds you until the end, keeping you guessing the whole way through.

    Mar 13, Carol rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. I haven't read anything by Pickard in years but perhaps it's time to fill in the gaps. Nancy Pickard is an Edgar winning author so I think I was expecting more of a who-dunnit when I picked this up. There is a murder and you do want it to be solved and justice to be served in the end. Where the story really shines is in its exploration of family with all their flaws.

    Set in Rose, Kansas, we meet The Linder Family, well-known, powerful ranching family with strong leaders at their helm. When one of their married sons is killed, and his wife goes missing, the elder Linders take on the responsibility of raising their only granddaughter, Jody. A ne'er do well, Billy Cosby is charged with Jody's father's death and imprisoned but no one knows what became of her mother.

    Of course, this uncertainty at her mother's fate plagues Jody but much is kept from her by her protective grandparents, aunt and uncles. Secrets, manipulation, wealth, privilege, greed, tragedy and love are excellently handled in one fine story. Pickard was able to impart the gathering of an oncoming storm, thrill me with the scent of the rain, and had me holding my breath waiting for the lightning strike. View all 7 comments. What a fantastic book I had no idea until the very last chapter what had happened and who was responsible for this cold case I was hooked from the first page and was on the edge of my seat until the last page.

    I had no idea of who the villain was until the very end Pickard has a wonderful "voice" and managed to foreshadow and do flashbacks that did not annoy me I usually hate these two "devices". I thought the character development and dialogue were very well done and the descriptions of Rose, Kansas and its environs and citizens was realistic and on-target. The slowly escalating tension was effective and real.

    An outstanding book. Mar 08, Stacey rated it it was amazing Shelves: mysteries-suspense. I won this book in the first reads giveaway. I loved this book. I am a hard core mystery fan and this wasn't a typical mystery. They way that the book is laid out it starts out as more of a story about the murder and then progresses into a "who done it".

    The characters were very well described and you felt that you had a clear idea of who each person was and what they stood for. The story kept you hooked the whole time. Some people in their reviews said that the characters were not believable, b I won this book in the first reads giveaway.

    Some people in their reviews said that the characters were not believable, but I would disagree with that. I think that the characters are very believable and dead on with some people that I know. I judge a good book by how many times I put it down. Seeing as how I read more than half the book yesterday I would have to say it was good.

    I would recommend this book to everyone and I look forward to reading her other books. Feb 28, Rachel rated it really liked it Shelves: first-reads. Won this on goodreads. This was an enjoyable read. At first I thought the characters were pretty predictable and they kind of are, but there's some pretty surprising twists towards the end even if they aren't totally believable.

    There's not much to say without ruining the book. Dec 29, Terri rated it it was amazing Shelves: mysteries. Jody's parents were murdered over 20 years out and now the killer is out of jail. Only maybe he didn't do it. The emotional struggle and depth of characters kept me hooked. Jun 23, Robert Beveridge rated it liked it Shelves: amazon-vine , owned-and-still-own , finished. I've been reflecting on this, and I've come spot up against a conundrum that I haven't yet quite figured out how to solve. But deadlines loom, and thus I'm writing the review instead of letting the book stew a bit more.

    In any case, the conundrum is this: as I was reading the book, I was relatively certain I had it figured out. Mysterious Skin ; Heim emailed me after I published my review and said yes, that's exactly what he was after. Which is dangerous, but done correctly, it can work quite well viz. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum , and don't bother with the movie version. Then we get to the final chapter or two, and I find out I was entirely wrong.

    And I should have known I was entirely wrong based on one of Roger Ebert's rules for mysteries telling you which one would give the game away. And when it happened, I felt deflated rather than wowed. I have no idea why this is. We get to the end and it all makes sense and the mystery really was a mystery and that's supposed to be the formula for a cracking mystery, isn't it? And yet for some reason it didn't work. I wish I could put my finger on why. In , Jody Linder was three years old. She lost both of her parents during a violent storm; one was shot, the other disappeared.

    Now it's , and in the first chapter of the novel, Jody's uncles come by the family homestead to tell her that Billy Crosby, the man convicted of killing her parents, is being released pending a new trial, because the sheriff, then young and full of beans, botched a couple of things about the investigation. And leading Billy Crosby's defense is his son Collin, a man Jody had a fascination with all the way through her childhood I'm having the same problem figuring this out as I did while writing my review of Imago Mortis q.

    The characters in The Scent of Rain and Lightning are well-drawn, and if a few of them notably Jody's grandmother are stock, it's made up for by the times Pickard zags when you assume she's going to zig Billy Crosby's post-prison personality is especially amusing. The setting is wonderfully done, if a bit sketchy at times.

    Specifically, I wanted more detail on the house itself; Pickard paints it as a small-town mansion, more or less, but then provides us with a frustrating lack of detail. And I've already talked about the mystery angle. As long as it all stands up to scrutiny, naturally. And it does here, though I'm wondering if part of my confusion is that I simply haven't looked enough to uncover the holes.

    So when it comes right down to it, a solid-seeming mystery that left me cold for an undefinable reason. You have my apologies. I'm giving it a hesitant recommendation because, well, your mileage may, and probably will, vary. Nov 06, Jen rated it it was ok Shelves: sisters-book-club , col-mustard-in-the-parlor.

    I am in a book club with my two sisters. I will not name them here, partly because I want to protect their privacy and partly because I already feel badly enough about making them share genetic traits. Toxic Shock is rea Mmm…okay. Toxic Shock is real, folks. My middle sister, who chose this book, likes smut and tragedy. She is drawn to slave narratives. She does not read in her spare time. She is electric and curls her own hair and the hair of others without the use of plugs or outlets. She is the Odie when I am a tired Garfield, she laughs like the devil, and I love all her kinds of crazy.

    My youngest sister is kind and polite. She likes all things Jane Austen. Living in England and sipping tea suits her. She is the kind of person who worries that her coexist bumper sticker might offend someone. In short, she is the person I probably should be, but alas! This book is not a slave narrative. It is supposed to be a murder mystery, but I am not going to be polite or kind and pretend that I think it really delivers on that.

    The title is fine, the cover is interesting, but I had trouble with the characters and the writing, although the story itself was not bad. Certain characters that played a lesser role in moving the story forward were better fleshed out than other major story characters. Ultimately, I found the ending a bit deflated and more unlucky than truly tragic. But, in my defense, both my sisters agreed with my assessment of the narrative. In fact, my youngest sister confessed to being embarrassed by the amount of cheese on the line level.

    She might have been referring to one particular passage early on in the story involving the main character jumping from the post-coital bed and running naked to the window. Clutching her naked breasts, she fears for the family farm. All things considered, I would be willing to try another book by the author if I got the shakes bad enough.

    Feb 09, Nicole R rated it really liked it Shelves: favorite , relationships , contemporary-fiction , ner , kindle , , family , suspense , kansas. I don't remember where I first saw a description of this book, but something about it kept drawing me back to it and I finally decided it was time to give in to the urge to read it. And I am so glad I did On a night in on a small Kansas town, the lives of the Linder family were forever altered.

    Three year old Jody was left an orphan after her father was murdered and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Jody's grandparents, aunts, and uncles sheltered Jody from the worst of the investiga I don't remember where I first saw a description of this book, but something about it kept drawing me back to it and I finally decided it was time to give in to the urge to read it. Jody's grandparents, aunts, and uncles sheltered Jody from the worst of the investigation and trial but they were all unanimous in their views: the small town bad seed Billy - the man who beat his wife, abused his son, and unwillingly worked on the Linder ranch - was guilty.

    The Scent of Rain and Lightning

    As the years go by the family does what they can to deal with this unimaginable tragedy but cannot move on without physical and emotional scars. Especially when they still have to live side-by-side with Billy's family. And then, 23 years later, the unspeakable happend. Billy is released from prison and doubts arise as to whether he is actually guilty of these crimes. What really happened that that stormy night? This book was amazing. The writing was so descriptive and smooth to read that you just slid into the story. The characters were realistically complex and the story slowly unfolded to reveal the truth about that night.

    I was so convinced I knew exactly what happened at the beginning of the book, but then I jumped around until nearly every single person was a suspect at one point or another. My one complaint was that the end felt a little rushed after the midwestern mosey pace of the rest of the story and it was a little too much of a surprise for me to give it the full 5 stars. I hate to call these things too early in the year, but this one has a good chance of being in my top 10!

    That shakes up the whole town but especially the family of the man who was killed and whose daughter-in-law is still missing. Their daughter Jody takes us through her story and finds things may take her down a very unexpected path. Colin Crosby, the son of the man convicted of murder had a very interesting story as well.

    Pickard has woven a story that could have taken place anywhere but she makes Rose, Kansas come alive and draws the reader right in. The vibrant characters jump off the page, but the story evolves slowly unveiling the mystery and the truth. The family is very close, brought closer by tragedy. She explores family relationships and the secrets and lies that can either draw a family together or rip it apart.

    I was so impressed with the easy flow. There were surprises and twists but I would not call this a thriller as other reviewers have. It has a totally different kind of feeling. In addition to the mystery there is also an underlying love story that added another element to an already fabulous story. I am truly sorry it took me so long to read this story. It was getting great reviews when it first came out that made me buy the book and while a few years have passed it is still getting those great reviews.

    Add to your reading schedule as soon as you can. Aug 12, Andy Miller rated it really liked it. This novel starts with a 26 year old woman in a small Kansas farm town learning that the man who was convicted of murdering her father the same night that her mother went missing, presumably also dead was being released from prison, largely about concerns about the fairness of the original trial.

    The book then flashes back to 23 years earlier and details the events and the people involved in the death and disappearance. The first half of the book was just great, Pickard does a great job creating This novel starts with a 26 year old woman in a small Kansas farm town learning that the man who was convicted of murdering her father the same night that her mother went missing, presumably also dead was being released from prison, largely about concerns about the fairness of the original trial.

    The first half of the book was just great, Pickard does a great job creating full characters and creating suspense and incidents such as the murder victim's compassion for the convicted killer's wife and young son were truly touching. The son was one of the most interesting characters, growing up with poor parents, then a dad in prison, ostrasized from the town and school but studying hard and going to law school and eventually obtaining his dad's release from prison The second half was a bit of a let down, as if Pickard reverted to her earlier style as a "mystery" writer.

    It sometimes read as a mystery with unnecessary and gratuitous killings and unrealistic changes in character attittudes.


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    • And to be honest, the ending which tied everything together was dumb. But still, Pickard did a great job describing life in a small Kansas farm town and creating interesting and complex characters so all in all it was a good book though the end was a bit of a let down. I did have some picky differences with the legal issues in the book, it is the prosecutor not the sheriff who is responsible for providing legal discovery to the defense, the description of legal and political issues of commutation procedures was not realistic.

      Nov 21, L. Starks rated it it was amazing. A rare and perfect setting for a mystery, written with insight: This book has a good plot and wonderful characters, but most of all, it has an amazing setting. I have never read a book that depicts rural Kansas-Oklahoma farming so perfectly.

      It felt as if Pickard was writing this just for me, that she lived the location and knows it in her bones. A few phrases and sentences from The Scent of Rain and Lightning say it best: "The uncles usually wore their best hats only to weddings, funerals, and c A rare and perfect setting for a mystery, written with insight: This book has a good plot and wonderful characters, but most of all, it has an amazing setting. A few phrases and sentences from The Scent of Rain and Lightning say it best: "The uncles usually wore their best hats only to weddings, funerals, and cattlemen conventions Their trucks also looked suspiciously clean, as for making formal calls The clouds looked like a billowing curtain hung from heaven to earth and extending north and south for miles.

      Lightning flashed spectacularly throughout them Mar 02, Judyw Winkleman rated it it was amazing Shelves: first-reads. I get a lot of used books from my friends and family, but nothing is better than getting a brand new book. Similar to getting a new dress, which as the third girl in my family of six children did not happen very often when I was a child.

      I enjoyed this book very much. I started reading and spent several nights up late to get past the next big event. The story is written about a small town called Rose, Kansas. Jody Linder's father was murdered and her mother disappeared when Jody was a young child I get a lot of used books from my friends and family, but nothing is better than getting a brand new book. Jody Linder's father was murdered and her mother disappeared when Jody was a young child.

      Jody was raised by her grandparents and protected by her Aunt and Uncles. The man accused of killing Hugh-Jay Linder is being released after 23 years in prison. Billy Crosby's sentence has been overturned and he is being given a new trial. This story has some great twists and turns, with fear and romance on the side. I believed, like a couple others in the story, that Billy didn't kill Hugh-Jay. And I was sure I knew who did. But it wasn't until the very end before another twist, and another turn, finally gave me some answers. I can't wait to share this book with others. I guess I like contemporary mysteries more than I want to admit and need to stop being a book snob!

      I don't care for the shallow characterizations and action packed mainstream thriller genre. When I want something that is entertaining enough to keep me turning pages in the wee hours, has a bit mo I enjoyed Pickard's The Virgin of Small Plains and thought I would give her another try.

      When I want something that is entertaining enough to keep me turning pages in the wee hours, has a bit more substance, a deeper characterization and writing that doesn't spell it all out in black and white