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The Scent of Rain and LightningThe Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book left me with mixed feelings.

On one level, I really liked it. Though a mystery (in this case that sub-genre called a "cozy mystery"), it shares with the works of Louise Penny a care to character--not just the major ones, but everyone. These are real people--irrational, passionate, caring, cruel, intelligent, kind...and that's just the bartender. Even the most sympathetic has flaws, and even the worst have an element that makes you wish things could be different for them. In fact, character is so important that for a long time I wondered if it really was a mystery. And I would have been okay if it wasn't--wonderful characters, lovely environment, didn't really need the other element.

Unfortunately, it was, and that is the part I had the problem with. It isn't that the solution came in from left field. No, it was there, all along, as one of the possibilities, just one that the red herrings effectively disguised. No, the problem was that the mystery element really wasn't very important for the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the book, and then got piled up at the end, to the point it no longer felt like an organic part of the story. What was organic was the personal dynamics between the female protagonist and everyone else. And, in fact, the mystery isn't solved until she doesn't even really care anymore--and if the author was trying to convey something by that, well, she needed to try harder.

I love this author's voice, and I will try to find the other things she has written, but despite things working out for the protagonist as I would wish, I ended up dissatisfied at the end--and not with the plot resolution, but with how the resolution was handled. I don't think I've ever had that kind of reaction before.

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