Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright

6 Aug

After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancé wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancé will make things better—or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright. 



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.

She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

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.

Visit Sibella Giorello online at, Facebook or Twitter.

My Impressions:

In Sibella Giorello’s latest book, The Stars Shine Bright, FBI agent and forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon is struggling with the truth.   There are lots of problems in Raleigh’s life — her relationship with her fiance is rocky, her mother has been institutionalized and refuses to see Raleigh and her job is threatened. Forced to take on an undercover investigation focusing on race fixing at a horse track in an attempt to save her career, Raleigh is conflicted by her need to lie and her personal values of always seeking truth.  What results is a novel filled with the suspense of an undercover operation and a deeply conflicted character. Giorello always produces well written and researched novels.  The race track atmosphere is authentic.  The characters are also fleshed out.   Giorello has developed Raleigh’s character throughout the previous novels, and the reader sees a Raleigh who is both indecisive and competent, wavering yet committed. The complexity and contradictions create a character that the reader can really connect with and care about.  The secondary characters are compelling as well. We see fiance Demott as well as Raleigh’s mother in a clearer light.  The novel has an atmospheric quality and the mystery is filled with twists and turns.  The reader finds out just whodunit at the same time as Raleigh.  There will be some changes for Raleigh in the  future, and I look forward to seeing how Giorello continues to develop her story.


Click on the following titles to see my reviews of other books in the Raleigh Harmon series — The Clouds Roll Away and The Mountains Bow Down.

For what others are saying about The Stars Shine Bright, click HERE.

(I received The Stars Shine Bright from LitFuse in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Sibella is celebrating the release of the next book in her praiseworthy Raleigh Harmon series by giving away a Kindle Fire!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • The entire 5-book Raleigh Harmon series.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/25/12. The winner will be announced on 8/27/12 on Sibella’s blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Sibella’s giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright”

  1. sibella giorello August 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I really appreciate that perception of Raleigh as “indecisive and competent, wavering yet committed.” You’ve captured her paradox.
    Tthank you for such good words, and for reading “Stars.”

    • rbclibrary August 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to more from Raleigh!


  1. Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright « BY THE BOOK | Pulplit Magazine - August 7, 2012

    […] more: Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright « BY THE BOOK This entry was posted in Books and tagged after-the-fbi, career, double-life, fbi, horse-track, […]

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