Raleigh Harmon's life seems as impossible to solve as the high-profile case she's pursuing.
Closing her assignment with the FBI's Seattle office, forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, expecting a warm welcome. Instead she finds herself investigating an ugly cross burning at a celebrity's mansion and standing in the crosshairs of her boss at the Bureau. And the deeper Raleigh digs into the case, the murkier the water becomes . . . until she's left wondering who the real victims might be.
To make matters worse, Raleigh's personal life offers almost zero clarity. Her former confidant is suddenly remote while her former boyfriend keeps popping up wherever she goes. And then there's her mother. Raleigh's move home was supposed to improve Nadine's fragile sanity, but instead seems to be making things worse.
As the threads of the case begin crossing and double-crossing, Raleigh is forced to rely on her forensic skills, her faith, and the fervent hope that a breakthrough will come, bringing with it that singular moment when the clouds roll away and everything finally makes sense.
About the Author
Sibella Giorello began her writing career as a journalist. Her stories have won awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer. Her novel The Stones Cry Out won a Christy Award. She lives in Washington State with her husband and family.
Read an Excerpt
The Clouds Roll Away
A Raleigh Harmon Novel
By Sibella Giorello
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Sibella Giorello
All rights reserved.
Winter rode into Richmond on the chattering breath of the Atlantic. Each year the season blew itself into existence. The ancient elms crystallized and frost crocheted the birches into lace doilies. On this particular December morning, with a bright sun overhead, I drove out New Market Road past fields that glistened like crushed diamonds. For this moment, my hometown looked cryogenically frozen, preserved for future generations to discover Richmond's wide river, verdant soils, and the plantation lifestyle forged through generations—gone tragically, humanly awry.
But the reverie was shattered by two elephants. Carved from white granite, they stood on either side of a black asphalt driveway with a steel sign naming the property: Rapland.
The scene of the crime.
I turned down the asphalt driveway. It was a long drive, rolling over fenced fields where satiny horses were grazing, their breath quick clouds that evaporated in the sun. At the other end, an old plantation house faced the James River. The historic clapboards were painted polo white, the copper cupola green from exposure. But pink stucco additions rose starkly on either side, modern additions with plate-glass windows that stared down on the historic middle and made it look priggish and stuffy, like a dusty repository for outdated books.
A muscular man stepped from the guardhouse as my car came around the driveway's final curve. His thighs were wide and carried him in a twisting, muscle-bound stride. In his right hand he held an assault rifle.
I stopped my car behind the gray Bentley parked in the driveway and reached under my blazer, placing my right hand on my Glock. With my left, I opened the car door six inches, preparing to use it as a shield if necessary. The man stood beside my car. He wore mirrored aviator sunglasses. In the reflection, I saw myself, my old white car, and the new pink additions to the house.
"Agent Raleigh Harmon with the FBI," I said. "We got a call this morning."
"I need to see the ID."
My right hand remained on the Glock. I lifted my credentials with my left. He stared at the picture with the Bureau's blue-and-gold insignia and then flicked his chin, indicating I could put them away.
"What're you carrying?" he asked.
"It's a .45, isn't it?"
I gave him my official smile—the smile of an armed public servant. "The phone call we received this morning sounded urgent," I said.
"We can get to that after we play show-and-tell." He popped gum between his white teeth, a brisk scent of spearmint filling the air. "If you're not carrying a .45, then it's a nine."
"Wrong. It's a forty. The game's officially over. Who's in charge around here?"
He strode back to the guardhouse, slid open the pocket door, and picked up the telephone. "The Feds are here," he said into the receiver. "And the G-man? It's a girl."
The historic part of the house smelled pungent, like clove cigarettes smoked after a spicy meal, and another guard greeted me at the front door. He wore combat fatigues and a three-carat diamond stud in each ear. When he extended his hand, it was three times the size of mine. I saw a .45 in his hip holster.
"I'm Sid," he said. "You want to talk to RPM? He's upstairs. Top of the steps, turn right, walk down the hall."
I counted twenty-two steps, the exotic wood shining like polished onyx. At the top of the stairs, I turned right and crossed a landing decorated with framed records—seven gold, eight platinum. At the end of the landing, the last door was open.
The famous rap musician and producer known as RPM was sitting in a green leather chair, a cello balanced between his long legs. Eyes closed, he bowed the strings, caressing a slow largo that sounded grieving and nocturnal. His fingers pressed the board as if staunching a deep wound. For his sake, and mine, I did not want to break the music. I stood in the doorway, listening until the piece descended to its final note, the lowest G on the scale.
When he opened his eyes, he looked startled.
"Pardon me," I said. "I didn't want to interrupt. Raleigh Harmon, FBI."
"You're the FBI agent?" His voice had a quiet tone, in a deep register.
I nodded. "'Sarabande'?" I gave him my card.
"Yes. Bach's my favorite," he said. He pivoted the cello on its spike, resting it on the chair. Sharp creases in his slacks extended his lean physique, making him appear even taller than the six-foot-three I was guessing.
"Did my guards give you a difficult time downstairs?" he asked.
"Only the one outside." I smiled.
"My apologies. They're on high alert after what happened last night."
"After what happened last night," I said, "no apologies are necessary."
He nodded. "Would you like to see where they burned the cross?"
* * *
The cross had burned the back lawn like a branded emblem. The main beam seared twelve feet, four inches. The intersecting beam scorched almost five feet of grass.
Releasing my aluminum tape measure, then letting it rattle closed, I wrote the numbers in my notebook and took several photographs. RPM stood to the side, quietly watching as I snapped on latex gloves, kneeled, and pinched the soil. It smelled of soot and scorched minerals, like a doused campfire. But I pinched another sample and waved it back and forth under my nose, detecting something else. It smelled bitter and acidic.
Hate didn't have a smell, I told myself. But maybe I was wrong.
"I suppose this is one way of telling me to get out of the neighborhood," he said.
I glanced over my shoulder. He wore sunglasses now but I could see his long eyelashes, the almond shape of his dark eyes, the face seen on countless magazine covers. I found it difficult to look at him and not remember he was among the fifty most beautiful people.
"What time did this happen?" I asked.
"The sheriff wrote down that information last night," he said.
"Our investigation will run separate from the sheriff's. I need to get the information from you directly."
He drew a deep breath, nodding. "Yes, I understand."
But he didn't respond further, and I knew fresh wounds required time. Kneeling again to my work, I reached into a black nylon satchel and removed a sterilized paint can. I wiped down my pocketknife with an alcohol swab and popped the paint can's lid. With a sterilized garden trowel, I dug into the scorched cross and deposited a large section inside the can, pressing the round top in place, hammering it shut with the trowel's handle, making sure all the volatile compounds were sealed inside.
When I turned to look at the famous man again, the rising sun had drawn a bright aureole around his head. It was as if nature was saluting his celebrity. But like most famous people, he let fame perform his introductions. A Southern girl, I wondered how to address him. He was known in the music industry as RPM, but that sounded odd, particularly for the elegant gentleman standing before me. I preferred formal titles—Mr., Miss, and Mrs.
But seriously: Mr. RPM?
Deciding to avoid the issue, I took out my notebook.
"I was playing music in the house." He stared down at the river that rolled like a long shiver to the Chesapeake Bay. "There was a sudden flash of light in the window. I thought perhaps it was lightning. But it grew brighter and brighter. I walked over and saw flames shooting from the ground." He paused. "And I saw that the fire was in the shape of a cross."
"Did you see anything else?"
"Such as people?" He shook his head. "I called 911 and ran outside. My bodyguard and I threw buckets of water from the kitchen—"
"Just the two of you?"
"Yes. I have children in the house. I didn't want to scare them."
"And your bodyguard ..."
"Sid. You met him on the way in."
Right. The man at the front door. I wrote his name in my notebook. "Sid's last name is?"
He smiled apologetically. "The spelling is even worse. D-a-w-g. Seeing Eye Dawg, otherwise known as Sid."
His smile grew. The teeth were so straight and white, they were spellbinding. "Welcome to the world of rap music, Miss Harmon. Linguistically speaking, it won't make much sense. You'll have to bear with us. It is 'Miss,' isn't it?"
"Yes. Was Sid nearby when you saw the flames? Is that how he heard you calling?"
"Excellent question. The sheriff didn't ask about that. I feel better already. My house is equipped with an intercom system. I don't like to raise my voice, ever. Sid was in the theater, watching a movie with his lady friend. With no windows in the theater, he couldn't see the fire. I reached him by intercom."
"How many people were here last night?"
"Sid and Cujo, the other guard you met outside."
I let Cujo's name go. For now.
"There's a cook and a maid," he continued, "who are like family. And the rest are my actual family. My wife, some of her extended relatives, and our children." He smiled again. "I grew up an only child. I'm enjoying the full house I missed back then."
"And none of them saw the fire?"
"Correct. The fire began right after 11 p.m. The women and children were in bed, so was the help. When the fire truck finally arrived, the sirens drew everyone out of bed. But by then Sid and I had put out the fire. We told the children there was some misunderstanding; the women took them back to bed. I would tell you to talk to them, but you'll need a translator."
I looked up from my notes. "What do they speak?"
"African," he said. "More specifically, a tribal dialect from Liberia."
I flipped through my notebook. "When you called the FBI this morning, you said the sheriff's department was ..."
"Lackadaisical," he said. "This is a cross burning. Somebody trespassed onto my property and set fire to a cross. You see how close it was to my house. It could have burned the place down—which might be the whole point of this hateful exercise. I complained to the sheriff, but he acted as if this was a friendly barbecue. For all I know he's covering up for these history fanatics."
Since "history fanatic" described most of Richmond, I asked, "Could you be more specific?"
"That historic preservation committee, those people living along the river. They've complained about my remodel for years. My home improvements undermine the plantation's authentic history, they say. Perhaps they decided to just burn us down."
I made more notes following his statement and said, "If you don't mind, for the official paperwork, I'll need your legal name."
"Robert Paul Masters. When I started in the music business thirty years ago, I decided to use my initials: RPM. Marvelous stage name. Albums were called RPMs. For revolutions per minute?"
"I grew up with CDs."
"Ancient history." He sighed. "How long?"
"How long until we find out who did this?"
"Hate crimes are a priority with the FBI," I said, sounding like the official investigator. "The evidence will get fast-tracked by the lab."
He smiled. "Miss Harmon, please. You do not have to spare my feelings. How long? I can handle the truth."
The truth? Cross burnings were nocturnal acts of bitterness, popping up in rural areas where physical distance separated neighbors and allegiances snaked back generations, particularly in the South. Figuring out who burned this cross would be like unraveling a Gordian knot glued down with hate.
But it seemed cruel to tell him, no matter how politely he insisted. The weight of last night was still on him.
So I gave him another truth, one I could be sure of.
"I will stay on this case until we know who's behind it," I said. "You have my word."CHAPTER 2
I headed west from Rapland and just before Battlefield Park, turned down an oyster-shell drive. The fractured calciferous layers glowed like broken pearls and led to a plantation dating back to a 1662 land grant from King Charles II. The plantation prospered until its slaves were freed, until carpetbaggers and federal soldiers carried away everything that wasn't nailed down. When the Depression hit, snakes slithered through the rotting pine floors and the French wallpaper hung like discarded bandages from the walls. It took a Yankee to save the place. James Flynn drove south from New Jersey in 1948, bearing a self-made fortune in the commodities of necessity—sugar, corn, bootleg—and the curse of so many Irishmen, falling for underdogs. Flynn spent years restoring the grand house and eventually Belle Grove returned to the small coterie of historic plantations along the James River.
His granddaughter ran the place these days, and when I walked around to the back of the main house, Flynn Wellington was in the glass conservatory, scooping soil into gilded pots. The air was moist and tasted of trapped chlorophyll. To either side, wooden pallets displayed poinsettias with burgundy leaves lush as crushed velvet.
"Why, Raleigh, how nice to see you." Flynn lifted both hands, her cotton gloves smothered with black soil. "I'd give you a hug but you'd be picking dirt off your clothes the rest of the day."
Flynn and I had been classmates at St. Catherine's School and were acquainted through her mother's penultimate husband. There were five husbands in all. Number four was an attorney my father liked—there weren't many—and on sweltering August afternoons, we would drive out to Belle Grove so the adults could sit on the wraparound porch drinking iced beverages while Flynn and I swam in the river.
"I heard y'all moved to Oregon," she said.
"Washington. It was only temporary."
"I can't imagine leaving Virginia." She picked up the spade, folding the soil again. Her blonde hair bounced with the motion. "How is your mother?"
She pronounced it the Old Dominion way, muh-thah.
"Fine, thanks. Yours?"
"She moved to Florida with what's-his-name. What can I do for you, Raleigh?"
"Last night somebody burned a cross at Rapland."
"Please. 'Rapland' sounds like a theme park. You know very well the name of that plantation is Laurel."
Yes, I knew. I knew all kinds of things. By junior high I could recite long passages of internecine gossip about families who traced their heritage to the House of Burgesses, but I only had one foot in that world. David Harmon married my mother when I was five years old. To this day, I couldn't trace my paternal heritage back one generation to my birth father. Not that I needed to: David Harmon was every girl's dream dad.
"The gentleman who owns Rapland thinks you're trying to run him off his property. Is that true?"
"Are you implying something?"
"I'm not implying, Flynn. I'm asking flat out."
"He's ruining that place," she said. "I don't want him there. I've never said otherwise. I've been saying it since he moved in four years ago."
The fine bones in her neck looked as brittle as glass rods. The pretty girl I once knew was lost to hard work. Several years ago, to keep up with expenses, Flynn and her husband had turned Belle Grove into a bed-and-breakfast.
"Flynn, there were people in the house. Children. The flames were burning ten feet from the door."
She dropped the gardening tool, wiping the back of her wrist across her forehead. "It's been awhile since you've been out this way, Raleigh, so let me explain it to you. My guests pay good money to stay here. They want a romantic retreat. They expect a visit with the historic past. We were doing fine until that rapper took over Laurel. Ever since, it's been rap music blaring downriver, party boats up and down the water. How do you think that's affected my business? Is this something I can call the FBI about?"
"That fire could have burned the place down."
"Good," she repeated. "Then maybe he'll leave and somebody could rebuild Laurel. Somebody who will treat that beautiful property with the dignity it deserves."
I leveled my gaze. "Flynn, I want you to answer truthfully. Did you have anything to do with burning that cross?"
She picked up the tool, waving it. "Look around. Do you see what I'm doing? I don't have time to terrorize anybody. I'm working. But we're old friends, so let me be very clear: when that guy goes back to Hollywood, or New York, or wherever he came from, I'm throwing the biggest party Richmond has seen since Antietam."
"Thanks for the warning."
"Oh, you're invited."
Her blue eyes flashed with indignation. "Here you come to Belle Grove and insinuate—"
We both turned.
At the back of the conservatory, where fanned banana palms brushed the peaked glass roof, the stalks parted to reveal a man walking toward us from the door to the house. He looked familiar in some distant way, somebody I'd met but couldn't place again.
"Oh, Stuart." Flynn pulled off her gloves. "Time got away from me. I've got everything ready. It's all in the parlor room."
Excerpted from The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello. Copyright © 2010 Sibella Giorello. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giroello is the third book in the Raleigh Harmon series about a Virginia FBI agent with a specialty in mineralogy. Raleigh has returned home from her exile in Washington and is assigned a hate crimes case against a high-profile rap star known for his philanthropy. Her boss hates her and regularly throws her scut jobs, including working the phones on a gang task force which leads to more troubles with authority as well as an up close and personal view of the gang members. I fell in love with Raleigh in the first book in this series, The Stones Cry Out, which is definitely a must read to understand the complicated relationships in this volume. Raleigh keeps everyone at arm's length after the murder of her father, which is still unsolved, including God despite her best intentions. The mystery at the heart of the novel is almost overly complex, but some readers will suss out the bad guy early on. But just like TV viewers don't turn in to Bones on a regular basis for the cases, readers will come back again and again for Raleigh's complicated emotions and the strong characters who surround her. Giorello's writing is restrained and occasionally haunting making this more than just your average mystery. It's compelling, enjoyable, and will keep readers coming back for more.
The book is slow to start but gains interest about a third of the way in. After that, I had trouble putting it down! When I first realized that it was a Christian suspense novel I was sure that I wouldn't like the story. I am not a "believer" in religion of any sort but if I had to pick a religion that I believed in the least, it would be Christianity. I was definitely put aback by the characters beliefs in creationism especially. This goes absolutely against everything that I have every believed. I find it hard to believe that anyone who is highly educated in this day and age could believe that there is no such thing as dinosaurs or evolution. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. It's akin to not believing there is a sun or a moon. The evolution arguments were thankfully only a few paragraphs though. Once I got past that, I found myself very interested in how different of an outlook on life that the main character Raleigh had from me. I found myself beginning to understand her beliefs instead of just finding differences. She uses her faith, hope, courage and love for humanity to find her way through the trials and tribulations of working on two cases simultaneously. One case revolves around racial intolerance and the other revolves completely around drugs. The two cases inexplicably intertwine while Raleigh tries to put together the pieces of the puzzles laid out before her. However, the book doesn't just focus on her work life - her personal life is an ongoing theme of the book as well. She tries hard to help her mother hold herself together while still mourning the loss of Raleigh's father. She is also learning to rely on her heart while an old flame in her life begins to ease his way back into her life. Perhaps she will finally discover what was meant to be. Finally, in a moment of clarity, the "clouds roll away" and Raleigh discovers the answers to the questions she has been trying to answer. The end of the book had me looking for more though. Thankfully, this is only the second in a series with another book coming right behind it called "The Mountains Bow Down". This book is set to be released in the Fall of 2010. The character of Raleigh Harmon is strangely compelling and easy to identify with despite the huge differences on world outlook that I have with her. I'm sure I'll be looking for the third in the series when it is released and am most positive that I'll be reading the first in the series long before then. I'd recommend this book to people who are trying to understand other viewpoints as well as those who are already firm believers in Christianity. Even if you are not interested in religion at all, it is quite a good story with twists and turns along the way that will keep you guessing.
This fiction piece is about a woman named Raleigh Harmon. She is a FBI agent who is investigating a celebrity's "hate" crime. As in many mysteries, there are twists and turns a person would not expect. Her faith and not "luck" is what comes into play many times. Sometimes I read for pleasure, sometimes I finish a book for the sake of just finishing what I started. I was rather disappointed that Thomas Nelson published this book. Although, there were no curse words, they were implied. I lost a lot of respect and wanted to quit reading, numerous times. There was also a lot of brutality and violence. This book was no way meant for the tender-hearted. The story of the book had a lot of history background. In fact, if I could have gotten over the curse words and shocking images from a Christian publisher - I think I would have liked the book. Did the book inspire me? In one word, no. This book did not provoke my faith or encourage me in any way. I wish I had seen more encouragement. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Raleigh Harmon is an FBI investigator who has just returned to her home to Richmond Virginia only to find she's investigating a cross burning. It appears to be a hate crime but the accelerants used in the burning are unusual and deadly. As she continues to dig, things become more puzzling and complicated to the point she's wondering who the bad guys and the victims really are. She's having a hard time with her supervisor who is not convinced she learned anything on her previous assignment. Her mother is behaving in an usual manner. DeMott Fielding is trying very hard to win her heart. Will Raleigh be able to handle all the pressures in her life? Will she be able to hang onto her faith?I enjoyed reading The Clouds Roll Away. I thought the author displayed an honesty in the nature of her characters and their struggles. Both good and bad. I liked her style of writing and the bits of humor splashed throughout the story. Especially when she would make references to Christmas songs. DeMott was a man I wished I had seen more of because I liked what I saw. I wanted more between him and Raleigh. I feel like I might have understood the story better if I had read the previous books in the series. I would recommend this book to those who like a police procedural type story. Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing me with a complimentary review copy.
When I sat down to read this book by this new-to-me author, I started out a little disappointed. Why? Because, for some reason, it was difficult for me to really get hooked. But, I pushed myself because I feel every book deserves a chance. And, once I reached Chapter 3, things looked up for me and man, was I ever hooked after that! This is book 3 in the Raleigh Harmon Novel series, but, while there is mention of some things that were in the previous books, I was not overly lost or confused. Sibella Giorello mentions these things in a way to bring the reader up to date with the current happenings in the novel.That being said, I did become totally hooked on the story and really loved it! The are complex and fit their personalities and rolls perfectly. Raleigh Harmon is a character that just stands out and is one that you root for through out the story. To me, she reminds me of James Patterson's Alex Cross. Yep. She's the Alex Cross of Christian suspense. The message of relying on God with a strong, unwavering faith to overcome anything, including a crime that is confusing as the case keeps getting crossed, shines strongly through Raleigh and can be felt by the reader fully.This book has a great look, while written to be a fiction novel, at a serious subject: cross burnings and hate crimes. The research the author did for this novel was outstanding, and, having been raised in Virginia Beach, could picture Virginia being the way that was described in the novel. Virginia is the perfect setting for this novel. It was very interesting to read about this subject. You just wouldn't think that there would be these awful events in the world today, but sadly, there is. It is all portrayed perfectly in this novel, as Raleigh tries to uncover the truth and fight the bad guys. Sibella Giorella really surprised me with this novel. She is an author who has made a fan out of me. Her books pull the readers so completely in, that they become a part of the FBI along with Raleigh, hoping the clouds roll away in time to solve the crime. I am definitely looking forward to reading more 5 star work from Sibella when I go back and read books 1 and 2, as well as checking out book 4! Can't wait!
Raleigh Harmon has returned to Richmond, Virginia after finishing her assignment with the FBI's Seattle office. She is a forensic geologist, who finds herself investigating a cross burning at a celebrity's mansion. She is not well liked by her boss and doesn't have alot of friends, but does have a Mom to look after and a man, DeMott, who would welcome her back in his life. The further Raleigh looks into this case, the cloudier it becomes, and the boss lady has given her a deadline to come up with a breakthrough. I must admit that when I first started reading this book I did not think I would like it. But the author did a good job of drawing me into Raleigh's thoughts and the way she thinks and feels. It was very good at describing the world of the undercover detectives and of the "gangs" and criminals they deal with. It was filled with suspense, intrigue and double-crossing and done in such a way that it is all very believable. Although this isn't a story line that I would normally pick up and read, I found that stepping outside my normal reading habits opened up a whole different type of story, and I am glad I read it. Thanks goes to Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving me this book to review.
The second book, in Sibella Giorello's Raleigh Harmon series, The Clouds Roll Away finds Raleigh back in her hometown of Richmond, Virgina after closing her assignment in Seattle. She is immediately pulled in investigating a cross burning at a celebrities estate. With this new case and her still unhappy boss at the Bureau, Detective Harmon receives anything but a peaceful homecoming. The deeper Raleigh gets into the case the more she realizes there is more to be found. On top of everything at work, her personal life leaves something to be desired. Her mother falls into the holiday spirit, something she hasn't done since the death of her husband and Raleigh's former boyfriend vies for her attention. What more will this case uncover? Will Raleigh let Demott back in her life? Most of all will she survive till Christmas? Read The Clouds Roll Away to find out for yourself.This is the first Sibella Giorello book that I have read, but I was pleasantly surprised. Giorello's use of imagery and visuals is astounding. She truly allows her readers to visualize Raleigh's surroundings and feel what is happening rather than just assuming. Giorello's characters are well built and there is a depth to Raleigh Harmon that is hard to find with many leads. Giorello also has a very comfortable, even balance of themes in her book. I never felt that the romance was too stifling and definitely did not feel that the action was too much to handle. Even though this is listed as religious fiction, I didn't feel that the religious elements were ever overwhelming. Giorello's writing is well structured and her plot and themes are believable. Never did I feel that any of the FBI and case elements were fictional or far-fetching. All in all I was very pleased with this book, and I would gladly read more from Sibella Giorello in the future. Giorello is definitely one to keep an eye on.Review originally posted on my blog Draw A Blank.Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission¿s 16 CFR, Part 255 : ¿Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.¿
I love a great nail-biting mystery every now and then, however being a bit squeamish I prefer the details to be selective and set the tone and atmosphere of the plot rather than irrelevant gore and such. Though this is my first book by Giorello, she has garnered a devoted reader with an enthusiasm for wholesome, quality fiction. Congrats to a new to me author who has impressed this very picky reader. Giorello does more than write an engaging story, she weaves in characters who readers not only identify with but come to consider intimate friends. I look forward to Raleigh's fourth adventure as well as the first and second which I have yet to read. Descriptive and illustrative passages in The Clouds Roll Away set the scene for Raleigh and the "good" cops of Richmond, VA to uncover a gang with mob connections and a dangerous product that could "explode" in their faces. Stay tuned to see how Raleigh and her law enforcement peers manage to not only address some very aged cold cases but connect the dots in recent events that Richmond's elite would rather bury and deny. If you haven't yet experienced a tryst with contemporary suspense full of intrigue and appeal for a variety of bibliophiles, Sibella's book is an enticing starter. It seems I have become so ensconced in reading and reviewing that I sometimes find a series midstream without the time to catch up on previous volumes before the tour starts. I am grateful that Sibella's book works well as a stand alone read. This doesn't mean that earlier Raleigh Harmon novels will remain untouched by this reader but I will eventually go backwards to catch the backstory of Raleigh and her career that lead up to this third book. I don't believe any series is best read in any available order but when I'm facing a review deadline I appreciate the skill that allows readers to jump in feet first wherever they may be. I'm sure the earlier two books will fill in gaps that although not key to the plot of this novel would make the experience richer for their contribution and enlighten readers about other facets of the recurring characters.
Raleigh Harmon has just returned from a transfer with the FBI back to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. On the heels of her homecoming, Raleigh finds herself in an investigation centering around a cross burning at a famous rapper's home. Her boss is pushing her to solve the case as soon as possible and the deeper she digs, the more complicated things become. Raleigh also begins work on a gang task force. The lines between the two seemingly separate cases start to blur with each new development, leaving Raleigh working frantically to uncover the truth. While looking for those responsible, Raleigh is also juggling her widowed mother and an old boyfriend who wants a second chance. Can she solve her cases and manage to not get her heart broken again? I had no idea what to expect with this book but I was quickly pulled in. Giorello threw in several unexpected twists, leaving me thinking "no way!" as I read. My only complaint with the story would be the lack of romantic interest. The attraction between Raleigh and her old boyfriend is told in such cut and dry manner that I found myself wanting to read about those tender moments. Other than that, it's a definite page turner that will keep you guessing.
When I sat down to read this book by this new-to-me author, I started out a little disappointed. Why? Because, for some reason, it was difficult for me to really get hooked. But, I pushed myself because I feel every book deserves a chance. And, once I reached Chapter 3, things looked up for me and man, was I ever hooked after that! This is book 3 in the Raleigh Harmon Novel series, but, while there is mention of some things that were in the previous books, I was not overly lost or confused. Sibella Giorello mentions these things in a way to bring the reader up to date with the current happenings in the novel. That being said, I did become totally hooked on the story and really loved it! The are complex and fit their personalities and rolls perfectly. Raleigh Harmon is a character that just stands out and is one that you root for through out the story. To me, she reminds me of James Patterson's Alex Cross. Yep. She's the Alex Cross of Christian suspense. The message of relying on God with a strong, unwavering faith to overcome anything, including a crime that is confusing as the case keeps getting crossed, shines strongly through Raleigh and can be felt by the reader fully. This book has a great look, while written to be a fiction novel, at a serious subject: cross burnings and hate crimes. The research the author did for this novel was outstanding, and, having been raised in Virginia Beach, could picture Virginia being the way that was described in the novel. Virginia is the perfect setting for this novel. It was very interesting to read about this subject. You just wouldn't think that there would be these awful events in the world today, but sadly, there is. It is all portrayed perfectly in this novel, as Raleigh tries to uncover the truth and fight the bad guys. Sibella Giorella really surprised me with this novel. She is an author who has made a fan out of me. Her books pull the readers so completely in, that they become a part of the FBI along with Raleigh, hoping the clouds roll away in time to solve the crime. I am definitely looking forward to reading more 5 star work from Sibella when I go back and read books 1 and 2, as well as checking out book 4! Can't wait!
Sibella Girgello is a new author to me. I will be reading more of her work. I understand that this is the third Raleigh Harmon book. I can assure you this is a stand alone book because I did not feel handicapped at all not having read the other two. But the more I did read this one and got involved with Raleigh I realized I will have to find the other two and read them, just got get a little more contact with her. I enjoy novels with multilayered plot lines and The Clouds Roll Away does not disappoint on this feature either.
There are some that live in the South that like things just the way that they have always been. The old historic plantation houses and land, completely restored and the people living there, need to share in that same level of keeping appearances. Yet when RPM, an up and coming rapper, takes over the Laurel plantation, he soon is provided with plenty of messages to let him know he is not welcome. FBI agent Raleigh Harmon's just returned from Seattle after being sent their on disciplinary action, when she is given the case involving a cross burning at Rapland, the property of rapper mogul RPM. Taking a soil sample and having it analyzed, reveals that this isn't a standard racial threat. Someone is using high grade World War 1 chemicals of mustard gas and lewisite. Whoever used these chemicals wanted to make sure that cross burned. As Raleigh begins her investigation her mother has plans for her personal life, reuniting her with her former boyfriend Demott Fielding, one of the most wealthiest families in Virginia. He immediately takes an interest in her while avoiding his sister Mac's upcoming wedding. As all the evidence comes together, soon Raleigh begins to discover that some in the town are willing to risk everything to keep things the way they always have been, even if it means murder. I received The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello, compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and inhaled every page. I love the way she uses Raleigh's character as a strong Christian woman who isn't afraid of dealing with her painful past and uses her faith to get her through this difficult case along some racial lines. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars, and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Christian Crime/Suspense Fiction books with strong leading female characters.
With her mother Nadine's mental state tottering, FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is working out of her hometown Richmond, Virginia office. However, her latest boss makes it clear that she is not wanted at this field office. Her supervisor assigns Raleigh two impossible cases to solve within a month. Each is convoluted but Raleigh gives her best starting with the burning of the Cross civil rights Federal hate crime at Rapland and her other inquiry into a drug case. As time begins to run out, Raleigh expects another transfer, but being tough she refuses to quit. Instead her forensic geologist skills soon have her investigating an even bigger crime when her two cases converge. The two Rs (Raleigh and Richmond) combine into a strong police procedural as the former depending on her faith to keep her going. She refuses to quit while working the historical mansions (owned by celebs) and the mean streets. The investigations are terrific as Raleigh is left out there by herself to fail while the evolution vs. creation argument is deftly handled. Her personal life is so smoggy from her former boyfriend, those she trusts and more so those she distrusts inside the agency, and her mom. Readers who enjoy a mentally tough female cop will want to read Raleigh's Richmond cases. Harriet Klausner
Sibella Giorello's The Clouds Roll Away is a suspense novel revolving around Raleigh Harmon. This book is a sequel to Giorello's last The Rivers Run Dry. I haven't read that book but want to read, however this doesn't block the understanding of characters and story of this novel. Raleigh Harmon is a FBI agent who excels in Forensic skills. After completing a project in Seattle, she returns to her home in Richmond, Virginia only to discover a new chaos in her life. She finds a horrible cross burning at a celebrity's mansion and has to deal with a new case. Her boss got her own ego problems and keeps on creating more problems for her. She has a personal life with lots of troubles too. Her mother is mentally ill; she has to deal with her ex-boyfriend on every step. Her skills and her faith are her only arsenal to get out of all these. The novel is written through Raleigh Harmon's perspective which adds up to know her state of mind. As the story unfolds lot of characters with their own secrets gets involved making this novel a good thriller. This book comprises of many scientific explanations making it more realistic and educational. The only weak part about the book is multiple story lines which are loosely bonded. Also this book is too garrulous. On final note, this novel is a good page turner and I am looking for its sequel The Mountains Bow Down.
The Clouds Roll Away Sibella Giorello Thomas Nelson Publisher Straight out of Virginia comes a story infused with love, murder, suspense, and mystery. It's easy to place yourself in the main character, Raleigh Harmon's shoes. Raleigh is an FBI agent and has moved back to her home state of Virginia. Right at the beginning of the novel there is an unexpected event leading to a civil rights case that forms the foundation of the story. This novel will have you wanting to read more. I found the novel to be very suspenseful. I was constantly wanting to find out what was going to happen next from the mysterious murders, to DeMott, a character who is in love with Raleigh and constantly wants her to see too, that she loves him. This novel has great flow. I could easily relate to Raleigh as I am also from the South. It was extremely easy to place myself in her shoes. The plot plays out nicely in this book and doesn't take an eternity to get to, which I love. I believe it accurately displays Southern culture, dialogue, history, landscape and diversity all while mystery is unfolding. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys an easy, flowing, encouraging and suspenseful read. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
When I chose this book from BookSneeze I had no idea it was the third book in a series, but I read the book jacket notes and thought this would be a fabulous book - it has everything; intrigue, suspense, mystery and a little romance thrown in for good measure. The Clouds Roll Away (Raleigh Harmon) by Sibrella Giorello finds Raleigh returning to her hometown of Richmond, VA hoping to be hailed a hero, but instead finds herself distrusted and just dissed at work and forced to not only investigate an ugly cross burning incident at a celebrity's mansion, but also to spend hours listening to wiretapped cell phone calls of local gang members. This is the third book in a series which also features: The Stones Cry Out: A Novel (Raleigh Harmon's first appearance and Giorello's debut novel) and The Rivers Run Dry. What did I like about this book? I loved the intricacies and the way that the novelist was able to hint at connections but not allow the reader to guess all of the twists and turns before the final chapters. Even the coincidences which can sometimes ruin a good suspense book are formulated so that the reader can enjoy the adventure. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."