My obsession with crime solvers started early. At age ten, I was hooked on Trixie Belden. Eventually I moved on to other amateur sleuths—Nancy Drew, Vickie Barr (stewardess), Cherry Ames (nurse). Then I discovered the professionals. By age fifteen, I was the only girl I knew reading police procedurals and detective novels. A host of broody, conflicted, not-happy-unless-I’m-working crime solvers became my book heroes.
So I was predisposed to love Raleigh Harmon, the focus of five books by Sibella Giorello.
Raleigh is an FBI Special Agent, who tends to take risks, defy procedure, and operate outside the bounds of protocol. In this most recent adventure, she’s investigating Mob activities at a Seattle race track. And since she’s been in trouble one time too many, she has to close this case by end of race season or her career is over.
Raleigh is a tough-on-the-outside professional. But she can’t stop her heart from breaking for the people in her life. Whether it’s her mentally-broken institutionalized mother, the quirky clients she has promised to protect, or the good man who wants to marry her—but suspects she doesn’t love him enough to settle down.
Raleigh is also a forensic geologist. She solves her cases by interpreting evidence found in the Earth. I love this because it shapes my favorite metaphor for understanding folks like Raleigh.
Raleigh is a believer, and I picture her faith as a tender green shoot fighting for purchase in rocky soil. Just when you think the job stresses, personal betrayals, and inner turmoil have piled up enough to choke it out, a bud appears. And before you know it, that once-fragile faith is in full bloom.
If you’ve never tried this genre before, you should. You and Raleigh have things in common. Oh, you may not be trained to go up against the Mob or consider a Glock a girl’s best friend. But I bet you’ve been misunderstood by the people you love. Or failed in front of your peers. Or floundered under a heartache so heavy that no one can bear the load but God. If so, then you can relate to what Raleigh learns in this story . . .
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end. Because I am God, your personal God. I paid a huge price for you. That’s how much you mean to me!” ~from Isaiah 43, The Message~
Other reasons you’ll enjoy this book: Two great secondary characters.
- First, eighty-four-year-old Eleanor Anderson, the spunky race horse owner, who delivers quotes from various playwrights like they were “philosophical bombs” and has a soft spot for Raleigh.
- Second, Raleigh’s irrepressible case agent Jack Stephanson. Here’s a description of Jack: “His body had the sculpted musculature of an anatomy chart, and his chiseled face framed bright eyes that could shift from green to blue and back again.” He was “basically a Ken doll with a concealed gun permit.” And somehow Jack is the one who anticipates what Raleigh needs and is always there to pick her up when she falls . . . Sounds promising, right?
You can purchase the book at this link. ***Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy for me to review.
About the author: Sibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism.
In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival.
Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.
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