Well known for her Jenny Cain series of mysteries, Nancy Pickard introduces in The Whole Truth a new protagonist in Marie Lightfoot, who is writing a book about a murder in her hometown in Florida. A particularly heinous crime, this was the murder and strange mutilation of a six-year-old girl. The case seems clear-cut, the verdict fore-ordained, but although there is little doubt who did the killing, no one seems to know anything about Raymond Raintree, the oddly boyish twenty-eight-year-old murderer. Who is he really, where does he come from, what could his motive possibly be, these are the real mystery. As Lightfoot, the consummate professional, tries to explore the young man’s background, she keeps running in to dead ends, exacerbated by Raintree’s shape-shifting stories. Through an unexpected e-mail, Lightfoot begins to trace the tragic story of Raintree, and gradually Pickard also releases some information about her curiously bland main character.
The format of this novel is interesting, shifting back and forth between the “true crime” book Lightfoot is writing and a first-person present narration as Lightfoot tries to complete her book and discover the “whole truth.” However, the main character is so vague as to be almost non-existent. It is clear Pickard intends to slowly reveal more about Lightfoot, who has a secret in her past which makes her reluctant to reveal even her real name, but the reader needs a little more personal history or personality than is given in this book to care what the secret is.