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The Truth Hurts    by Nancy Pickard order for
Truth Hurts
by Nancy Pickard
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Long time mystery fans will remember Nancy Pickard as the award-winning author of the Jenny Cain series set in New England. After almost ten novels in that series, Pickard has gotten itchy feet and moved to Florida, creating a new detective at the same time. She has now written three mysteries featuring true crime author Marie Lightfoot along the coast in Bahia, Florida. Marie is a thirty-something author of several very popular books which have delved into the lives and psyches of some very scary criminals. Of course, the crimes are not always as they seem on the surface and in her last book, The Ring of Truth, she was involved in investigating the crime with dangerous consequences for herself.

In The Truth Hurts, Marie is peacefully working on a new book when a story appears in a supermarket tabloid exposing her parents' shameful racist past, and soon all the media have picked it up. At first Marie is mainly worried about the effect of the publicity on her book sales. But then she starts receiving scary emails from Paul Barnes, the person orchestrating the expos9. Marie's parents disappeared in 1963 when she was an infant, and she has been able to piece together only limited information about their lives in a small Alabama town.

As the increasingly threatening emails continue Barnes commands Marie to investigate her parents' lives further and write a book on her investigation, the last chapter of which is to be written by him after he murders her. At the same time Barnes takes steps to let Marie know how easily he can penetrate her life and the lives of those around her, including her African-American boyfriend, State Attorney Franklin DeWeese, and his small children. As the book progresses Barnes is successful in separating Marie from most of those around her, and she is alone to face another pyschopath.

Pickard has always been an excellent writer and easily weaves the present story with the past narrative about her parents' lives and their activities in the Hostel group which sheltered African-American activists who needed to escape their racist persecutors. Small town Alabama in 1963 was a very dangerous time for activists, whether white or black. This was the summer when several northern civil rights workers were murdered trying to help African-Americans register to vote, and also the time when activist Medgar Evers was assassinated.

There is a plethora of mystery books out there today, and eager readers are hard-pressed to decide which ones to choose. Pickard has used her creativity to write a very unusual book which fascinates from its start to the gripping solution.
[b:Review by Mary Ann Smyth
^bc]N]ancy Pickard is a prolific writer, which makes her many fans happy. Her Jenny Cain series hooked me. The Truth Hurts is her third in the Marie Lightfoot series, another blockbuster. What a strange and terrifying tale.

Marie is contacted by email and told that she is to write the story of her own murder! The man, who calls himself Paulie Barnes and plans to kill her, will publish her book as his own after her death. If she doesn't comply, those close to her will come to harm. Marie also has a dark past - in the 60s her parents were branded as racists and disappeared, leaving her an orphan. Lightfoot goes to the small Alabama town where her parents were last seen and runs into more disturbing information than she thought possible.

This is a great concept for a story and Pickard keeps the reader turning the pages. I held my breath many times as Marie was torn back into those troubled times. It also made me realize we have come a long way since then, but, unfortunately, not far enough. Pickard's skills bring each scene to life and her characters are certainly believable - especially Eulalie, the epitome of a Southern Lady. The ending, unfortunately, didn't do it for me. But that's just my opinion, and I would still read any of Pickard's books.

For a fast-paced, action-packed adventure with an old friend, pick up a copy of The Truth Hurts and settle in for a good read.

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