Book Review: The Clouds Roll Away

29 Dec

Forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia and discovers nothing is quite what it seems in this former Capital of the Confederacy...

Although her exemplary service in Seattle lifted her disciplinary transfer, Raleigh lands a hometown civil rights case riddled with problems that could get her sent away again. When she helps out a fellow cop, her life goes on the line, forcing her undercover in a sting operation. As Raleigh realizes the lines are crossing and double-crossing, her domestic life starts to unravel. Her mother’s mental health cracks like ice, her closest friend grows cold, and her old boyfriend DeMott comes a-calling, hoping for more than chestnuts by an open fire.

While the city glows with Christmas lights and carols, Raleigh is forced to rely on her sharpest skills to stay alive, hoping for that one clear moment when everything makes sense and the clouds roll away.

Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

My Impressions:

Let me begin by saying that suspense/mystery is my very favorite genre.  I read tons of novels featuring amateur detectives, private detectives and law enforcement professionals.  Most of the time I have a pretty good idea of who did what and why by the time I have read the first third of a book.  No I am not that smart, I just read a lot of these books, and sadly many are very predictable.  The Clouds Roll Away is not one of those.

Sibella Giorello’s third book featuring the somewhat unconventional FBI agent, Raleigh Harmon, is anything but predictable.  Raleigh has just returned to her beloved hometown of Richmond following an imposed exile in Washington state.  Eager to be back in Virginia and to keep her job there, Raleigh begins by playing by the rules in order to keep her demanding (and unfair) boss happy.  But a hate crimes case and a gang task force assignment soon land Raleigh back in hot water.

Raleigh, a trained forensic geologist, has to deal with troubled and troubling family and friends, along with the very uncooperative victim and local sheriff.  Just when you think you have a handle on who the bad guys are, a new twist occurs to keep you off balance.

The book itself is beautifully written.  The reader can easily picture Richmond in winter with its beautiful winter skies and old monuments and buildings.  A perfect read for December (most of the action occurs the week leading to Christmas), Giorello contrasts the hopefulness of the season of joy with the deep sorrow of the hopeless; the outdated gentility of the Old South with the drugs, gangs, and poverty facing the New South.

Raleigh is also a wonderfully complex character.  A debutante turned lawman.  Vulnerable and tough.  She seeks to remain professionally detached, but privately succumbs to her emotions when faced with injustice and abuse.

I hope you can tell that I loved this book.  Although book  3 featuring Raleigh Harmon, The Clouds Roll Away can be read as a stand alone.  But I would recommend getting all 3 in order to start at the beginning.   And for those who agree with me, there is a 4th to be released in Spring 2011 — The Mountains Bow Down.

Highly Recommended.

To read more reviews of The Clouds Roll Away, click here.  And be sure to check out the giveaway listed on the sidebar of this blog.

Also by Sibella Giorello:

The Stones Cry Out


The Rivers Run Dry


(I received The Clouds Roll Away from LitFuse in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Clouds Roll Away”

  1. Sibella Giorello December 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    There are few things as wonderful as a Crazy Book Lady who says, “You are what you read.” Love it.

    Thank you for reading “the clouds roll away,” and for your thoughtful review.

    With gratitude,

    sibella giorello

  2. Christy January 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    I just got a copy of this one a week or so ago, and it sounds great! Loved your review! 🙂

    • rbclibrary January 12, 2011 at 7:04 am #

      thanks! enjoy.

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