The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Target Audience: Adult/Crime/Thriller
How I found out about it: Saw it at Target & added it to my to-read list.
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
Summary: It’s been over 20 years since Jody’s father was murdered and her mother went missing, presumed to be dead as well. She’s gone practically her whole life without knowing her parents, only able to learn about them through her father’s siblings and his parents. On what seems to be an ordinary day, Jody learns from her uncles that the man convicted of breaking up her family is getting out of jail.
The Scent of Rain and Lightning is my first venture into the world of adult fiction for 2012. And it was… okay. Honestly, I probably haven’t read a “crime book” since I was in middle school reading Mary Higgins Clark novels at Yankees baseball games. (True story.) I’m actually not even sure if Nancy Pickard and Mary Higgins Clark fall into the same crime writing category but none of the less, I sort of grew out of them after a few years.
The bottom line is this: The Scent of Rain and Lightning was an intriguing story. The main character, Jody, and I are the same age. She lived her entire life in the same small farm town where her parents were killed. In fact, she went to school with the murderer’s son, Collin. Later, she even moves into the same house where the act was committed. It was all so unbelievable to me especially because there is so much uncertainty when it comes to the day of the murder.
The author basically gives us a small peek into present day Jody’s life and for a good remainder of the novel, we are sucked back in time to when her father and mother were still living and the events leading up to and following their demises. The structure was uneven for me. I would have preferred to learn more about Jody as a grown-up because even once we shift back to now, I never get a sense of who she is. Sure, she’s scared, affected, and curious – but she never becomes a fully developed character to me.
As far as the extra mystery goes (even if I think the back story was a bit dragged out), I can honestly tell you that the resolution was like nothing I could have imagined. I had my suspicions along the way but never came to this particular conclusion. That did feel nice for a change, playing my own private game of “what exactly went down here”. Something I don’t normally do while reading my regular stash of books.
I know a lot of people may not comprehend why I love YA novels, but, especially in recent years, they have come to represent realism in books for me. The good ones at least. (And there are so many of those.) The feelings they elicit, the psyche of these characters, the situations they are placed in. I wasn’t feeling that in The Scent. In fact, I feel like Jody could have definitely been a more engaging character in so many ways. Even her acts toward the end of the book were so typical and cookie cutter. I was a bit bored with them. (This is in reference to the “connection” teased about in many of the descriptions of this book.)
While The Scent of Rain and Lightning didn’t blow me away, it may still provide a good read for someone who likes this particular genre or is even hoping to read their first adult crime book. I don’t want to totally dissuade you. But I am coming to realize that for me as a reader in particular, structure and character development are everything.