It took me two weeks to finish this book – pathetic! It just didn’t grab me at first, perhaps because the setting of Kansas is not all that thrilling to me. However, the writing and character development are superb, so I can see why Pickard has such a large following.
In The Scent of Rain and Lightning, Jody Linder has just been informed by her three protective uncles that the murderer of her father and possibly her mother, whose body was never recovered, has just been released from prison and is coming back to his home in Rose, Kansas.
As a young man, Billy Crosby was a hired hand on Hugh and Annabelle Linder’s ranch, as Hugh senior has a habit of employing young boys with troubled pasts in hopes of straightening them out and worked along side the Linder’s three sons, Chase, Bobby, and Hugh-Jay. However, when Hugh senior catches Billy abusing his cattle, High resolves to fire the often inebriated and irresponsible Billy. Little did he know the retaliation that would follow. The following day Annabelle discovers a cow slaughtered and the fence cut down.
Not too long after the cattle fiasco and on a night of a damaging storm, Hugh sends Hugh-Jay to their Colorado ranch to investigate some questionable bookkeeping. Meanwhile the boys, Chase, Bobby, and Meryl, who is daughter Belle Linder’s boyfriend, as well as Belle and Laurie, Hugh-Jay’s wife, are at Bailey’s for a drink and are forced to stay overnight in town due to the storm. The next morning, Annabelle drives into town to collect her family for breakfast when she discovers Hugh-Jay shot to death at the house, and Laurie is now where to be found.
Everyone suspects Billy Crosby, the only one in town with a grudge towards the Linder’s, and Jody spends her life despising the man who killed her family. However, sending the wrong man to prison can have serious repercussions twenty three years later.
I have to give Pickard credit, as I totally guessed wrong on the killer’s identity. So, readers looking for a mystery with unsuspecting plot turns will find The Scent of Rain and Lightning to be a real treat.