BookBrowse Reviews The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

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The Scent of Rain and Lightning

A Novel

by Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2010, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2011, 352 pages

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Engrossing, lyrical, and suspenseful, capturing the essence of small-town America

23 BookBrowse readers read The Scent of Rain and Lightning before it was first released, rating it an average 4.5 out of 5.0.

Here are some of their glowing comments:

Fair warning to the reader who starts this book, you will be immediately pulled into its all-encompassing plot (Robin F). Nancy Pickard is one of those masterful story tellers who can, in the first 11 pages, tell you the life-defining tragedy of the central character, then flash back to (some of) the events leading up to that tragedy, and keep the reader eagerly turning pages for the next half of the book (Mary G). Once I was hooked it became a compulsion to read in one sitting. It becomes a whodunit mystery and love story, but it also deals with human behavior, how we judge people by past behavior and conclude that that judgment is consistent at all times, with tragic consequences (Mary P).

With all the fury the title conveys, this book thrusts the reader into a story of one family's power over a small town. The Linder family members are the pillars of the community, but now their past history races against the coming storm which will once again impact the whole town. Written with beauty and symbolism, the austere plains allow a coming storm to be viewed from a great distance without fully comprehending its magnitude. Thunder and lightning give only glimpses of enlightenment, and Nancy Pickard's use of how we perceive what we want to see make this book intriguing and give us much to think about. Her characters have depth and allow us to understand their actions even while we question their motives (Duane F). This is an amazing novel from the first page to the last. Each character is immediately familiar, yet not quite what they seem. It's a story of good people and a powerful yet kind family which helps the less fortunate. Yet, even good people can make mistakes in judgment. The unrelenting Kansas weather mirrors the emotions of its people affecting them in a profound way (Therese X).

If you want to read a mystery (with plenty of suspense and surprises) that feels like it could happen to you or your neighbors at any given moment, this is the book for you (Hannah J). I will definitely recommend this book to both my book clubs (Liz M). When you're in Nancy Pickard's world, you are definitely in Kansas and it feels familiar as well as deeply affecting. I highly recommend this novel to readers who might think they aren't "into" this genre of storytelling. After page one, you will be! (Therese X)

With a few caveats....
I really wanted to like this book, but I disliked most of the characters so much that I could hardly wait for it to be over with. I realize they were supposed to be good ol' boy, salt-of-the-earth type people, but they just seemed self-righteous and full of themselves to me (Teresa G). I know my book club would not care for the violence and language, but if you can tolerate that, it is a very entertaining read (Jeanette B). I had previously read and enjoyed greatly The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard and loved the book. I had expected the same level in this novel but for the first hundred pages I felt disappointed as no character really seemed to attach themselves. I felt unconcerned with the events that happened and everyone seemed too good to be true or evil in the extreme. However, after the main character became more developed, the story progressed well with unexpected turns that still held believability. I rated the book a 5, but it is a step below The Virgin of Small Plains (Norman G).

The Final Word
This will be a Store Pick when it is released and would make a great book club book (Nancy M). Suspenseful and intriguing, she is certain to garner more awards for this beautiful novel (Sue P). I love a good story. Even more, I love a good mystery. But, I confess, I'm a snob. Not only do I expect a page turner but also a novel that is well-written, an intelligent endeavor that anticipates intelligent readers. Nancy Pickard's The Scent of Rain and Lightning fulfills my expectations. This novel wraps a plot of twists and turns around characters that are alive with complications and nuances. These characters are themselves a collection of stories, embodying the good and evil that exists in all of us. The plot weaves its way across the pages as electrically as the storms that advance towards Rose, Kansas, bearing with it the heat of passion, the violence of revenge, and the rains of love. I have not read Pickard before, but I'm on the way to the library for more! (Becky M)

This review was originally published in May 2010, and has been updated for the February 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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