TRUE BELIEVER Nicholas Sparks From Publishers Weekly Charming, divorced Jeremy Marsh is a rising star. As a dashing, successful 37-year-old Manhattan science journalist, his skeptical scrutiny of ineffective antidepressants, cults and television clairvoyants has caught the eye of North Carolina restaurant owner Doris McClellan, who invites Jeremy to bucolic Boone Creek to scoop the story of eerie mystery lights appearing in an ancient cemetery. A diviner who can predict the sex of unborn babies, Doris suspects the lights are a ghostly curse. Her beautiful librarian granddaughter, Lexie Darnell, makes a lovely, if guarded, tour guide as Jeremy revs up his electromagnetic equipment for the ghost hunt. After witnessing the ethereal graveside lights, both grow closer, much to the chagrin of local deputy Rodney Hopper, who wants Lexie for himself. Guided by sage Doris and manipulated by meddling mayor Tom Gherkin, big-city Jeremy and smalltown Lexie find that trepidation about their differences somehow manages to bloom into love. Jeremy eventually uncovers the hidden truth behind the glowing graveyard fog and departs the lush gothic environs for New York. Can love bridge the gap?
The book begins with Jeremy Marsh as an audience member on an "Oprah" like TV talk show. A clairvoyant is asking him questions about his childhood and Jeremy is agreeing with everything he "sees".
Cut to Prime Time Live. It turns out that Jeremy is an investigative journalist, writing for Scientific America magazine. He's about to expose this nationally known clairvoyant on TV. Jeremy is real good and his agent is trying to get him on TV more often.
Next however, Jeremy is heading off to North Carolina. He received a letter from Doris, a resident of Boone Creek. The letter tells about a phenomenon at the local cemetery where mysterious lights are appearing from the tombstones. The townspeople are convinced these lights are ghosts.
Jeremy meets with Doris, owner of the small town's busy restaurant. She's a older woman and comes from a long line of psychics. Her mother could read minds and Doris is a diviner, someone who can find water before digging a well. Her main talent though is predicting the sex of babies for pregnant mothers, just by holding the mother's hand. We later learn she's correctly predicted over 270, never missed a one.
Doris explains to Jeremy about a legend of the graveyard, how a curse was placed on it and the ghosts of former slaves buried there are haunting it.
Jeremy wants to learn more and Doris suggests going to the library to learn the history of the place. She tells him to ask for Lex.
Lex turns out to be Lexie, Doris' granddaughter. Lexie's parents died in a horrible automobile accident when she was very young - Doris raised her.
As Jeremy does his investigating, with Lexie's help, we learn a little about each others past - the most important being that Jeremy was very happily married years earlier. His wife was perfect. They had both very much wanted to have many kids but it turns out that Jeremy was infertile. (VERY important later) His wife divorced him because of this.
The mayor of the town has a big party celebrating Jeremy's presence in the town. Remember, he's a national celebrity since his Prime Time Live appearance a few days earlier. Jeremy goes to the party with Lexie as his date.
The town is known for it's TOUR OF HOMES and has just recently added the ghosts at the cemetery to the tour. It's a huge financial reward for the town. Now that Jeremy is a celebrity, when he doesn't (as the mayor is convinced) figure out what is causing the lights, it will only add to the Ghost theory making it an even bigger attraction.
Lexie is starting to worry that she and Jeremy are getting too close so she packs up and leaves for a few days. By the time she gets back she hopes that Jeremy will be gone.
Jeremy must be with her and figures out that she's at an old beach house, where her parents were married.
He meets her there and she realizes that she is falling in love with him. They make love and spaghetti.
Jeremy is convinced he knows what is causing the lights. He is also sure that Lexie and Doris know as well.
He then discovers, after reading journals and diaries that the diary of the Mayor's father revealed exactly what he thought. The reflection of an incoming train on the local factory, coupled with the extremely thick fog caused by the slow sinking of the soggy graveyard results in the lights appearing on the tombstones. (Or something like that)
It's all there in the diary. So the Mayor has known all along. Doris also knew and wanted the ghost theory debunked so the cemetery would no longer be an attraction Her daughter and son in law (Lexie's parents) are buried there.
Jeremy has it out with the mayor, accusing him of scamming everyone to sell this ghost theory.
Lexie and Jeremy get in an argument, she is convinced that he looks down on them and their small town ways. The only way they could ever be together is if she sacrificed everything and moved up to New York, not the other way around.
Jeremy heads back to New York to write the article, still not sure of what his angle will be. Either about the Mayor scamming the town or simply a theory as to what is causing the mysterious lights.
While back in New York he can't keep his mind off of Lexie, he loves her. He has a visitor - Doris. She basically tells him that Lexie feels the same way about him.
He rushes back down to Boones Creek and meets up with Lexie at the cemetery. She's there visiting her parents grave.
We then learn that he had another meeting with the mayor. On the condition that the mayor take the graveyard tour off the homes tour, that the word ghosts can never be used, and that he stop selling ghost hats and shirts; then Jeremy will simply explain what's causing the lights and not expose the Mayor for the fraud that he is.
Jeremy spends the next few nights with Lexie. He has decided to move down there. He can always write his articles there, he doesn't have to be in New York
Lexie finally asks him if he can ever believe in miracles. Why he asks. She tells him that she had lunch with Doris today - It's a girl!
The book ends with them embracing, him holding her stomach.