Books by Nancy Pickard

Released: May 1, 2006

"A quietly fashioned, credible tale about the loss of innocence."
Accomplished mystery writer Pickard (The Truth Hurts, 2002, etc.) skillfully exposes insidious elements in a small town. Read full book review >
THE TRUTH HURTS by Nancy Pickard
Released: July 2, 2002

"Though she hooks readers with her extraordinary premise, Pickard never quite lands them; the energy flags in the he-said-she-said environs of Sebastion, and it hardly matters which of the interchangeable suspects is masquerading as Paulie Barnes."
South Florida true-crime writer Marie Lightfoot (Ring of Truth, 2001, etc.) has never thought of herself as a racist, and neither has state attorney Franklin DeWeese, her black fiancé. But that's exactly what she's accused of in a tabloid headline based on a 40-year-old scandal: her parents' betrayal of the Hostel, a group of Dixie liberals whose dangerous civil-rights work ended June 12, 1963, the night Michael and Lyda Folletino vanished hours after President Kennedy gave an inflammatory speech on behalf of integration and the Hostel was broken and discredited. And the follow-up is even more shattering. An e-mail correspondent calling himself Paulie Barnes tells Marie that he divulged the information the story was based on and announces his plan to kill Marie, threatening to hurt everyone close to her—her assistant Deborah Dancer, her cousin Nathan Montgomery, and Franklin and his children—if she doesn't collaborate with Barnes on her most personal book yet: the story of her own murder. Dropping hints in the form of references to John D. MacDonald's classic The Executioners (twice filmed as Cape Fear), Barnes succeeds in manipulating and terrorizing Marie, but not in suppressing her investigator's instincts, and when she returns at his command to her parents' former home in Sebastion, Alabama, she shifts gears from victim to detective to track down what really smashed the Hostel. Read full book review >
RING OF TRUTH by Nancy Pickard
Released: June 5, 2001

"Like Agatha Christie in her prime, Pickard uses her characters' relationships to craft a puzzle that's a joy to solve."
Something's not right with the latest manuscript that true-crime writer Marie Lightfoot (The Whole Truth, 2000) has just sent off to her publisher. The story is straightforward enough: Robert Wing, charismatic leader of the White Sands Gospel Church, is found guilty of the murder of his wife Susanna, while his alleged partner in crime Artemis MacGregor wins an acquittal. There's the requisite erotic edge to the tale: Wing and MacGregor were allegedly lovers. There's even a hint of irony, since Wing is an ardent crusader against the death penalty, and his conviction derails his campaign to save death row inmate Steve Orbach, landing the minister in the cell next to Orbach's. So what's the problem? Marie's editor, Charlotte Amstell, thinks the book may spend too much energy on the murder ten years ago of pretty Allison Tobias, who was found beaten and smothered the morning after her first night in her first apartment—an apartment upstairs from the one Orbach rented after his release from prison for killing his mother. But Marie's new assistant Deborah Dancer thinks that Marie should look even harder into the Tobias murder. So Marie looks again at Wing, at the detective who investigated the case, at the crumbling mansion where the body was found—but, most of all, at two items brought to her by the little girls who discovered Susanna Wing's body: a canvas bag filled with toiletries and a diamond ring. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 16, 2001

"Chatty, good-humored, and entertaining, with a believable puzzle, a charming heroine, and a consistently light touch."
A standout in Pickard's series (The Blue Corn Murders, 1998, etc.) resurrecting Genia Potter, a heroine who first came to life in the novels of the late Virginia Rich. This time out, Genia has temporarily deserted her Arizona ranch for a rented house in her old stomping ground of Devon, Rhode Island. There she's planning, in collaboration with aging one-time banker and ardent recipe collector Stanley Parker, to compile an offbeat sort of cookbook. Together, the co-authors plan a dinner to which the invited guests will each bring a recipe whose ingredients are secret. But Stanley never shows up for the best reason in the world. Soon enough, he's found on a nearby beach, killed by a series of vicious blows to the head. Anybody as rich and irascible as Stanley is guaranteed to leave behind plenty of promising suspects, and here they include Stanley's nasty groundskeeper Ed Hennessey, scorned son-in-law Randy, and of course the half-dozen dinner guests, all self-proclaimed experts at keeping a secret. The police can't overlook even Genia's great-nephew, teenaged Jason, who worked in Stanley's greenhouse. The solution is too late to head off another murder, but it carries conviction when it finally comes. Read full book review >
THE WHOLE TRUTH by Nancy Pickard
Released: March 14, 2000

Pickard (The Blue Corn Murders, 1998, etc.) launches a new series introducing crime writer Marie Lightfoot, who covers spectacular murder trials and turns them into bestsellers. Here, her manuscript on accused child-slayer Ray Raintree awaits finishing touches when chaos erupts in the courtroom: Found guilty, Ray goes berserk and attacks the judge, who pulls out a .22 and shoots him. Exiting the courthouse on a stretcher, Ray overpowers his minders and escapes, setting off a manhunt along the Intercoastal waterway surrounding Florida's Bahia Beach community. National media attention brings Marie e-mail from a retired Kansas deputy who says little Johnny Kepler, abducted 22 years ago and never found, had an imaginary playmate named Ray Raintree. Is Ray really Johnny, an abducted child grown up to be an abductor himself? Marie's lover, black state's attorney Franklin DeWeese, insists a killer's a killer, no matter why, but Marie's sympathies are engaged by both victims' families, and waver in her assessment of the repulsive Ray/Johnny. Two more will die before the case draws to a close, with Marie's romance on hold, and her book past deadline'though Marie's moral dilemmas consistently present Pickard with deeper challenges than her Jenny Cain series and her continuing entries in Virginia Rich's saga. Chapters shuttling between present and past provide some confusion, and the glimmers of Marie's own mysterious past are sometimes trying. But the black/white love affair is handled with wit, a pair of detectives fill out the cast nicely, and Marie seems like a keeper. (Mystery Guild featured alternate selection; author tour) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1999

MOM, APPLE PIE, AND MURDERA Collection of New Mysteries for Mother's DayPickard, Nancy—Ed. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 14, 1998

The Blue Corn Murders ($21.95; Aug. 14; 272 pp.; 0-385-31224-5): Pickard takes time off from her Jenny Cain series (Twilight, 1995, etc.) to provide a second posthumous encore for Rich's chef-sleuth Eugenia Potter, whose Colorado vacation is interrupted by a pair of murders, the disappearance of a busload of children, and a dozen recipes. Read full book review >
TWILIGHT by Nancy Pickard
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

Tireless Jenny Cain of Port Frederick, Mass. (Confession, 1994, etc.), has quit the directorship of the town's charitable foundation after one battle too many with powerful tycoon Peter Falwell, who also stole her family's generations-old clam cannery. Along with some of the town's smartest women, she's started Judy's Foundation and is going all out to get ready for its first major fund-raisera Halloween Festival. As Jenny waits tensely for the event's crucial insurance coverage to be approved, she and policeman husband Geoffrey Bushfield are distracted by the antics of First Things First, a fringe ecological group headed by cynical ex-reporter Lew Riss. They're protesting possible changes on a nature trail called God's Way that crosses a highway, where hiker Ben Barney was killed soon after a hit-and-run driver fatally struck a seven-year-old. There's more bad news when Jenny's good friends Nellie and Bill Kennedy, who live along the trail, see their huge emporium in townthe Dime Storego up in flames. Unanswered questions aboundwhy the insurance holdup? why can't a detective armed with a license number find the hit-and-run driver? who beat up Jenny and Geof's unofficial ward, David?along with much woman-to-woman soul-searching and a dollop of mysticism. Rambling, unfocused, and overextended: not one of the author's better efforts. Read full book review >
CONFESSION by Nancy Pickard
Released: July 15, 1994

Pickard (The 27-Ingredient Chile Con Carne Murders, 1993, etc.) goes to the small city of Port Frederick, Mass., where police lieutenant Geoffery Bushfield and his wife, Jenny Cain, are visited by David Mayer, the volatile teenage son of Ron Mayer and Judy Baker, who accuses Geof of being his biological father. Months earlier, David's wheelchair-bound mother had been shot to death by her husband, who then killed himself. David is convinced they were murdered by someone else and persuades Geof to reopen the case, following up his visit with a series of vaguely threatening minor incidents. Geof concedes his paternity is possible, remembering a one-night stand with Judy. Her marriage to Ron, son of the prosperous, religious head of a family construction business, was interrupted by divorce and a brief, tumultuous marriage to no-good Dennis Clemmons, whose term in prison and abuse sent her back to Mayer. Clemmons, now incapacitated after a mysterious beating, still lives in town. He's one of the people Jenny talks to as she and Geof delve into the lives and strange religious practices of the Mayers and into Judy's unconventional upbringing. Shocking revelations abound as the old case is reshaped, a new killing must be solved, and Jenny and Geof's union is tested to the max in a freshly plotted, psychologically intriguing story. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 2, 1993

Jenny Cain, the author's energetic, emotionally vulnerable heroine (Generous Death, etc.), ex-director of a charitable foundation in Port Frederick, Massachusetts, has lost her New York friend Carol Margolis, killed by a street mugger. Carol worked for the Hart Foundation, and now her boss wants Jenny to take over Carol's projects—an idea not happily received by Jenny's policeman husband Geof. Arriving in New York, Jenny stays in Carol's apartment, in a building full of aging eccentrics, run by Jed Goodman, 19-year-old son of the loony landlady. She meets Carol's separated husband Steve, an unprosperous musician whose Brooklyn in-laws are certain he arranged Carol's demise. Steve wants Jenny to plead his innocence to them, but that's only the start of her problems. Carol had left behind a series of unresolved Foundation tangles—heavy donor Malcolm Lloyd, threatening to sue for return of his money; a theater group waiting penniless for their inexplicably overdue grant check; and an illiteracy program run by overwrought Frenchman Andrei Bolen in the dankest of slums. Jenny takes it all on—alternating between fear of the city and its weirdos and exhilaration at its vibrant pace and inexhaustible wonders—until Carol's murderer is unmasked and other matters are resolved, including her own future career. Robust, funny, touching, and engrossing all the way: Pickard peaks here. Read full book review >
GENEROUS DEATH by Nancy Pickard
Released: Jan. 15, 1993

The first hardcover edition of a paperback published in 1984- -in which the author introduced Jenny Cain, amateur sleuth and director of the Port Frederick (Mass.) Civic Foundation. Here, the town's world-famous Martha Paul Museum, headed by cynical curator Simon Church, and other good works—like the Welcome Home for Girls, directed by young Allison Parker—are all supported by the town's rich benefactors, who are being murdered, one by one. Nice old Arnie Culverson is the first to die, followed by Moshe Cohen- -both poisoned—and then Mrs. Charles Hatch is found suffocated in an abandoned refrigerator. In the midst of the carnage, Jenny manages to visit her deranged, hospitalized mother; cope with the verbal attacks of her hate-filled sister; and start a hot romance with Geof Bushfield, the head cop on the case. Her grit and ingenuity are tested to the limit in the bizarre, unbelievable confrontation that answers all the questions and nearly kills her. Pickard has gone on to write seven more Jenny Cain stories (I.O.U., etc.), most of them as spirited as this first one but less verbose and overwrought—as well as more convincing in motivation and method. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 11, 1993

Author Pickard (see above) has adopted widowed, wealthy Eugenia Potter, heroine of stories by the late Virginia Rich (The Nantucket Diet Murders, 1985, etc.), and, working from Rich's notes, comes up with an intriguing adventure set in Arizona, where Mrs. Potter owns a ranch. This time out, she's summoned there from her Maine cottage by Ricardo Ortega—her longtime, patrician ranch- manager who's called a meeting of ranch-owners in the area for reasons he won't explain on the phone. But by the time Eugenia arrives, Ricardo is dead; his granddaughter Linda, fiancÇe of Ricardo's assistant Ken Ryerson, is missing; neighboring ranchers are scouring the mountain area for Linda; and, within days, aged ranch-hand Bandy and the Mexican illegals he's sheltering are found poisoned. In the midst of all this appears Mrs. Potter's college heartthrob Jed White, unheard from for the past 40 years, still handsome and eligible. Despite the distraction, it's Mrs. Potter who follows up clues, puts together the motive behind it all, fends off a murderous attack, finds the missing girl, and gives the reader method and recipe for a great-sounding chile besides! Quite a woman, and the scenic background doesn't hurt. Nice going for Pickard. Read full book review >
I.O.U. by Nancy Pickard
Released: April 4, 1991

A crisply competent amateur sleuth in past outings (No Body, etc.), New England's Jenny Cain is devastated by her mother's death after long years in a psychiatric hospital. Depressed, guilt-ridden and mystified by some disquieting incidents at the funeral, Jenny sets out to explore the background of her mother's illness and the demise of Cain's Clams, the family fishery business, run into bankruptcy years ago-supposedly by Jenny's handsome, philandering, rather stupid father. Her search, aided by stalwart policeman husband Geof, produces lots of answers and lots of anger-from her mother's doctor, priest, best friend and others-among them members of the board of trustees of the Port Frederick Civic Association of which Jenny is director, some of whom profited mightily f rom the downfall of Cain's Clams. Minor tracts on the evils of old-boy networking and censorship in the arts don't help a teary saga that's more soap opera than mystery and not too interesting as either. Read full book review >