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Ring of Truth    by Nancy Pickard order for
Ring of Truth
by Nancy Pickard
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Nancy Pickard has written many popular and well-regarded mysteries over the last fifteen years. Ten previous stories were set in New England and featured Jenny Cain (who runs a non-profit social services agency) and her policeman husband. Several of these books, including Bum Steer, IOU and Marriage is Murder, won various prestigious mystery awards. However, after ten books an author often gets bored with her characters (even when her audience does not) and starts a new series.

Pickard's is set in Florida with true-crime writer Marie Lightfoot as the main character and amateur sleuth; Ring of Truth is its second volume. Using a clever plotting device, Pickard alternates chapters from the real book with those of Lightfoot's latest true crime novel. At the beginning of the story, Lightfoot has just finished her book on the murder of the wife of prominent minister; the minister and his lover were accused of the wife's murder. Although the trial is over and the minister found guilty, Marie is not satisfied that she (and the legal system) have gotten it right. Her continuing investigation begins to turn up new, but puzzling, information.

Lightfoot's novel chronicles the crime from the moment the body is discovered until the minister is declared guilty. It is fascinating to go back and forth between the chapters from this book within a book and the details of Lightfoot's continuing detective work. As she progresses, she becomes more and more sure that the minister's guilty verdict was wrong. She also puts herself and others more and more in harm's way.

Ring of Truth, as all of Pickard's books, is very well-plotted and has a truly surprising ending. Its focus is mainly on plot. Pickard has not yet really fleshed out Marie Lightfoot. There is promise of a romantic interest but that seems added in almost as an afterthought. However, the writing is so good and the unusual way of handling the dual stories - true crime vs. Marie's life - so nicely accomplished, that I eagerly await the next entry in the series, The Truth Hurts.

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