cover image The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth

Nancy Pickard. Atria Books, $22.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88795-7

In a sensational change of pace, Anthony Award-winner Pickard sets aside her Jenny Cain series (Twilight, Confession, etc.) for a fast-moving thriller that literally starts with a bang. True-crime writer Marie Lightfoot is covering the murder trial of Raymond Raintree, accused of kidnapping and killing, and extracting the pineal gland of, a six-year-old girl in Maria's hometown of Bahia Beach, Fla. When convicted, Raintree charges the judge, who whips out a pistol and shoots him. Feigning unconsciousness, Raintree manages to escape. The story then seamlessly alternates between Marie's narration of the manhunt for Raintree and chapters of Marie's book, The Little Mermaid, about the background to the trial. Raintree is a cipher, a seemingly illiterate but clever outcast with no past. Pickard delves deeply into the personality and psyche of this repellent yet sympathetic monster who was kidnapped and abused as a child. After finding and arresting the fugitive, the police never question the anomalies in the case (how could an uneducated man perform a delicate surgical procedure?) nor do they respond to calls from a retired Kansas sheriff who believes Raintree is John Kepler, who was kidnapped 22 years ago. Because of her fame, Marie is contacted by Kepler's parents, and the course of the novel shifts dramatically as Marie becomes personally involved. Mrs. Kepler's wish to see her son again spurs the frightening climax to this stunning synthesis of psychological suspense and commentary on our culture of celebrity. Featured alternate of the Mystery Guild; 9-city author tour. (Mar.)