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.
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 Stars Shine BrightA RALEIGH HARMON NOVEL
By SIBELLA GIORELLO
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Sibella Giorello
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe glass skyscrapers towered over Puget Sound, like crystalline prisons for office slaves. I stood at the corner of Third and Madison and watched the hurried workers, toting their Starbucks and battered briefcases, while down the hill, between the city's steep reflective walls, a basin of salt water sparkled under late-summer sunshine. Puget Sound looked dappled and calm, nothing like the busy people. Nothing like the emotions warring inside me. And nothing like the woman who walked beside me, gripping a strand of pink pearls.
"Don't do this," said Aunt Charlotte. Her pudgy fingers worried the silken beads. "Come work in my shop."
"It won't help."
"I'll pay you double minimum wage."
I waited for the crosswalk light to change. Hurry up. The breeze tunneled through the buildings, bearing scents of wet salt and city pavement and the close of summer. A city bus wheezed to a stop on Madison and belched diesel fumes before releasing more serfs. They lurched out, sighing like pneumatic doors.
I glanced at Aunt Charlotte.
She had switched the pearls to her other hand, presumably because her fingers were fatigued from all that rubbing. It had started early this morning, when she told me I needed some geological magic to save my job. I looked back at the light. It refused to change.
"I'm fine," I told her.
"I'll send you to all my rock shows," she said. "You're a geologist—they'll love you."
I was a geologist, a forensic geologist, but I doubted the poor souls attending Aunt Charlotte's rock shows would love me. They were wannabe celebrities, pop musicians, New Agers all of them, believing Charlotte Harmon when she said malachite could enhance their visionary powers. That marble kept time with the earth's internal clock. That pearls provided clarity and wisdom.
My aunt was the most loyal of relatives, and she was a total kook.
The light changed, I stepped off the curb.
She hurried beside me. "You're afraid, I can feel it."
"No," I lied. "I just want my old job back."
"You're in denial. And who wouldn't be, with what you're facing?"
A sarcastic Thank you perched on the tip of my tongue. But we had now reached my own urban prison. Nine stories of pale steel, the building stood at the corner of Third and Spring with its cross-hatched architecture looking as unfriendly as graph paper.
"Take the pearls," she said.
But she had already shoved the strand into my shoulder bag and was gathering me into her arms, squeezing tight. Plump and warm, loving and lost, Charlotte Harmon was one of the world's all-time great huggers. I breathed in the last of her patchouli scent.
Then I turned and walked away, without saying good-bye.
* * *
At the guard's desk inside, I flashed the credentials that identified me as a Special Agent for the FBI, rode the elevator to the building's top floor, and headed straight for the receptionist who sat behind the largest console desk. She wore the blank mask of the dedicated assistant.
"Raleigh Harmon," I told her. "I have an appointment."
She pressed a button on her phone and spoke into the tiny headset receiver wrapped around her ear. Her controlled contralto was barely audible from two feet away, and the mask betrayed nothing as she listened to the response. Then she pushed the button again.
"They need a few more minutes," she said. "Please have a seat."
I nodded, as though agreeing. But I bypassed the leather club chairs and stood at the elongated windows that framed the view of Spring Street. Down below, pedestrians were bent at the waist, trying to climb the hill's forty-degree angle. They looked snapped in half, and I felt a pang tingling across my abdomen. Sympathy? Or maybe self-pity, if I were being honest.
I heard a door open behind me.
Don't look desperate.
The middle-aged man stepping out wore a white oxford shirt. Starched, but wrinkled around his waist, as though the meeting had gone on for hours. He nodded at the receptionist, but when he looked at me I couldn't read his eyes. The sunlight from the windows was flashing across his wire-rim glasses, turning the lenses opaque. He walked quickly to the elevator and pushed the down button. Twice, hard.
"Agent Harmon?" The receptionist's voice sounded almost tender. But maybe I was imagining that. "You may go in now."
The elevator dinged like the bell announcing the next round of a boxing match. The man in the wrinkled shirt stepped inside, then turned to face me. His mouth tightened as though he had tasted something bitter.
* * *
The Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle field office had the best view in the building, naturally. But the chief had positioned his desk so that his back was to the window. When I walked in, he stood and placed a hand on his red tie. To his right, another man waited. He was leaning against a matching cherrywood console, his red suspenders flecked with small oily stains. Allen McLeod. Head of the Violent Crimes unit. My direct boss. Or so I hoped.
The SAC kept one hand on his tie, leaning over the desk to shake my hand. "Raleigh, good to see you again."
The SAC had a spare and focused gaze, the expression of someone who realized anything could go wrong at any moment, and who was already working out various contingency plans.
I took the chair directly in front of his clean desk. The seat was warm.
"OPR was just here," he said. "They wanted to make sure I understood their concerns about you."
OPR was the Office of Professional Responsibility. The FBI's internal affairs unit. They had opened a file on me. In June. Right after I stepped off a cruise from Alaska.
"They're discussing your situation with the SAC in the Richmond office. Victoria Phaup?"
I nodded. Phaup was my boss in Richmond, Virginia.
"She's recommending a full suspension for at least six months."
No real surprise. Phaup had spent several years riding her broom over my career. We had disagreed from the start, and at one point she transferred me from Richmond to Seattle, a disciplinary transfer that first introduced me to the gentlemen in the room. And now I felt a prickle of sweat on my palms. And because I needed my job, I slid the receptionist's bland mask over my face.
"But," the SAC said, glancing at McLeod to his right, "Allen has been vigorously arguing against such stringent disciplinary action. He wants to keep you with us, Raleigh. And he insists a full suspension would force you to leave the Bureau altogether."
He waited for me to say something, and I stared at his blue shirt, waiting for the correct words to come. The shirt was starched, of course. The stainless appearance reminded me of an elegant tablecloth, the kind that made red wine bead up and roll away without a trace. He continued to wait for my response, and I decided my words would sound defensive, almost petulant. Seven weeks ago, the FBI had suspended me without pay. I had moved in with my aunt Charlotte and was struggling to pay for groceries and the gasoline needed to drive her old diesel Volvo to the state mental asylum that was holding my mother. My mother, who had lost her mind on the cruise to Alaska. My mother, who learned I was lying to her. My mother, whose paranoia now convinced her I was the enemy.
Somehow, I doubted the SAC would understand any of that. His honed appearance told me he didn't make mistakes. He followed the rules. And because I needed my job, I defaulted to my Southern upbringing.
"Yes, sir. I'm sure Ms. Phaup did recommend that."
"She also wants OPR's investigation extended. She's asking them to look at full termination." He waited for me to respond. "She sent OPR documents from your Richmond cases. All your cases, with field notes. She says there's a pattern of behavior here."
"No, sir." Something cold settled over my shoulders. "No pattern."
"See?" McLeod almost sneered. "Those OPR jackals. You know how much they love dirt. They won't leave any bone unturned."
The SAC tapped a finger on the desk, perhaps registering McLeod's malaprop. "Allen tells me you're the sole income for your family. Is that correct?"
"Your father, he's passed on?"
"Correct." It was easier than saying, He was murdered.
"And your mother doesn't receive any other financial support?"
"Social security. As his widow." I paused, wondering how much he needed to know. And how much I should tell. "Most of the money goes to cover property taxes on her home in Richmond. And her medical care."
"I heard something about a nervous breakdown." He raised an eyebrow. "On the cruise ship?"
I gave a nod.
"About that ship," McLeod said, pushing himself off the console. "Don't forget what Raleigh managed to accomplish. How many agents could've closed that case—in four days? We had media calling coast to coast. The FBI put a movie star behind bars."
The SAC tapped the desk again. "You better hope the media never finds out how she solved that case."
Two days into the cruise, I realized a cold-blooded killer was traveling among us. Once we docked in Seattle, it would be almost impossible to track the case. But in my haste to find the killer, I "borrowed" several geologic specimens from a jewelry box. Without a warrant. Without clearance of any kind. I didn't follow the rules, and when the ship docked in Seattle, I had certainly pegged the murderer. But I had also opened the door for OPR.
"Raleigh, the FBI is like a family," said the SAC. "We have a code of honor. And when one family member breaks the code, it affects all of us."
McLeod leaned forward, straining his suspenders. "Families also take care of each other. So let's cut to the UCA."
UCA. We might be a family, but the FBI was also a train with boxcars of acronyms chugging through our vocabulary. UCA stood for Undercover Assignment.
"OPR is arguing against you taking this case," the SAC said. "They want to finish their investigation before we even discuss reassigning you. Normally I would agree. But Allen has pointed out they've already taken up almost two months and still don't have a resolution. Additionally, he says the UCA only has two weeks remaining."
"Plus," McLeod said, "Raleigh's the only agent for it. She's got all the perpendiculars."
The SAC glared at him. "Perpendiculars?"
"We need somebody who has no connections here. Somebody that won't get recognized at the racetrack. Even better, she's from horse country. Virginia. You can hear it in her voice."
The SAC turned to me. His narrow features reminded me of an arrowhead. "Raleigh, do you know anything about horses?"
But McLeod jumped in again. "That's her cover. The newbie. She's supposed to be learning the ropes from that woman."
That woman was an eighty-four-year-old pistol named Eleanor Anderson. She began calling McLeod back in April, sometimes several times a day, insisting that races were being fixed at Emerald Meadows, Washington's largest thoroughbred racetrack. The pattern went like this: Her horses would win for several weeks and become odds-on favorites. Then suddenly they would start losing and come down with an inexplicable illness that defied diagnosis. Meanwhile, certain long shots would start winning—until they became favorites and started losing, repeating the pattern all over again.
Somebody was getting rich playing the long shots. Eleanor Anderson suspected the Mob.
But when McLeod told her the federal government wasn't about to pay an agent to hang around a racetrack all day, Eleanor wasn't deterred. She kept calling and eventually offered to cover the costs of an undercover operation—provided she approved of the agent. McLeod offered me the job when I stepped off the cruise ship. But the assignment was revoked: OPR launched its investigation.
And Eleanor kept calling.
"It's all ready to go." McLeod lifted a manila folder from the console. "The whiz kids backstopped her identity. Raleigh Harmon is now Raleigh David. Rich girl from Middleburg, Virginia. Parents died ten years ago in a car crash." He turned to me. "And per your request, your alias is also engaged. Your fiancé is back home in Virginia. Just like real life."
I nodded. Please.
But the SAC had the cold water ready. "I don't see how Raleigh can get enough information in two weeks."
"That's where Eleanor Anderson comes in. She's asked her niece, Raleigh David, to come learn the horse business. She wants an heir to inherit it when she dies." McLeod offered me the file. "Actually, Eleanor's words were 'if I die.'"
Keeping my head down, I read through the false information while McLeod relayed more details to the SAC. Eleanor was providing a condo in Tacoma. And a vehicle. I would keep my FBI-issued firearm concealed at all times. And there would be no contact with the Bureau, except through my case agent.
"Jack Stephanson," the SAC said. "That's your case agent."
I looked up. "Jack—?"
"OPR wants him on oversight. He reported the incident on the cruise ship. They trust him."
I felt sick. Jack?
McLeod misread the expression on my face. "Don't worry. I already explained that your relationship with Jack is plutonic."
My tongue was made of lead. "Can't Lucia Lutini be my case agent?"
"Lutini's not a full agent," the SAC said. "She's a CPA who works profiling."
"But," McLeod added, "Lutini offered to get your UCA wardrobe." He stole a glance at my blazer and slacks. "She says you need the help."
I looked down at the folder's contents. Two keys. The condo, I guessed. And the vehicle. The driver's license for Raleigh David had my picture, staring back at me.
McLeod reached behind his back again, then held out a cell phone.
"It's not programmed like your agent phone. Your name will show on anyone's caller ID. So be careful phoning your case agent."
Case agent. Jack Stephanson. No. Please?
"One more item," the SAC said. "And this is nonnegotiable."
I couldn't breathe.
"As you're probably aware, undercover agents are required to have periodic psychological exams. We've had too many agents struggle with their double identity. Furthermore, OPR has pointed out that with your mother's condition, you should undergo extra visits with a psychiatrist."
I felt a humming sensation. It filled my ears. High and strained, it sounded like electricity getting ready to blow. Somehow I knew OPR would be checking the shrink's notes.
"Don't look so concerned," McLeod said. "Jack found a convenient shrink. You won't have to go out of your way."
I closed the folder. I tried to smile. The men waited for me to say something.
Finally, the SAC said, "You do realize, if you found actual hard evidence of race fixing, it would benefit you in other areas."
"Yes, sir." Success on the UCA would dilute, or even negate, any ruling from OPR.
"But," he continued, "you only have two weeks. And given the circumstances, it's doubtful your forensic geology will help you." He gave a tight smile, barely conciliatory. "As they say in horse racing, good luck."
I didn't believe in luck. But I also didn't believe in shoving my foot in my mouth.
Clutching my new identity, I stood to shake the SAC's hand. Then I told him exactly what he wanted to hear.
"Thank you for this opportunity, sir. I won't let you down."
Chapter TwoFour days later, I was already doubting my pledge.
It was Monday evening. The weekend was spent dutifully following Eleanor Anderson around Emerald Meadows. From the barns to the betting office to the private dining room. Shaking hands, learning names, cataloging potential suspects. And now it dawned on me that two weeks, minus four days, wasn't enough time to build a case.
OPR would win.
"I'm spending the night," I said.
"No, you're not," Eleanor said loudly.
I glanced over. We were walking down an empty backstretch under a dusky sky. The stars were just winking into view, that gentle moment of evening. Eleanor, however, was anything but delicate. Trained as a thespian, she still had a dancer's light step. But her actress voice always projected to the cheap seats.
"Go home!" she bellowed. "Sleep!"
I lowered my voice, hoping it would give her a stage cue. "Time's running out."
Excerpted from The Stars Shine Bright by SIBELLA GIORELLO Copyright © 2012 by 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
Raleigh Harmon is a conflicted character that I love. In The Stars Shine Bright she's wrestling with an assignment as an undercover agent and what it means to leave an honest, truthful life. The mystery is multi-layered and complex. But it's her character that keeps me coming back. Add in wonderful writing and it's can't put down, return to it often reading. Can't wait for the next book!
Raleigh Harmon [David] is fighting to save her job at the FBI. She is now undercover at a horse race track, where mysterious things are happening. Her Aunt Elanor [not really] is a wealthy thespian, and plays her role of Aunt so well, you will forget she is not really her Aunt. It looks like someone is fixing races, and horses are being hurt and Elanor wants her to get to the bottom of things. Things are going from bad to worse, and Raleigh has one friend she can contact [he seems to there for her throughout the book] Jack Stephanson. Raleigh has played it on the edge one to many times at the FBI, and they are looking at her closely. Besides almost loosing her life in a barn fire, she is being tailed by a black Cadillac. Then her fiance, DeMott, calls and is bring her Mother's dog to her. Madame is so depressed from being away from her family she is loosing weight. This darling dog adds more delight in this story. Also throughout the book I keep thinking...throw in the towel and go and live the easy life with DeMott. One thing I loved about this book is the title....it is a reference to Raleigh's deceased Dad. Although this is the fifth book in this series, it can be read alone. I would recommend that you give yourself a treat and read all of the books. I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Tours and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.
I happened onto Giorello's first book, THE STONES CRY OUT, in the fall of 2013 and fell in love. I searched and learned of four more books in the series, and received them at Christmas. Against my better judgment I read them non-stop, one after the other. I was not disappointed, and THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT is my favorite to date. The story line is tight, the characters well written, there are twists and turns I didn't predict even though I read the books in close succession, and there was neither language nor scenario I needed to skim over because of content. It left me begging for the next book - which doesn't exist yet! I'd recommend this book to ANYONE - male, female, old, young - looking for well developed characters and exciting stories. Once you read one, you're going to want to read all the others, too! And you'll need to get your own because I'm not sharing these! A great book club selection as it offers much food for thought to Christians and non-believers alike. While it is obvious that Raleigh is a Christian, the reader is not beaten over the head with religion. Giorello just throws out a few seeds that may take hold in the heart that is ready or be left to rest until the time is right.
Welcome to Radiantclan! I am Oakstar, leader of this clan. Please post Bios in the next result! Thank you! -Oakstar
The Stars Shine Bright is a great Christian fiction/ mystery novel. Although it is the fifth book of a series, I immediately was engaged by Sibella Giorello’s ability to make the reader care about the characters. Raleigh Harmon is an FBI agent in a bit of trouble. She is being kept on a short leash because of past conduct, but has now been given an unorthodox, but tough case. Harmon has to discern who is fixing horse races and must work on a tight timetable. This case is not easy and quickly becomes dangerous as the story unfolds. There is personal drama happening in her life as well, involving Raleigh’s fiancé, colleague, and mother. Raleigh’s fiancé wants to further their relationship, but Harmon cannot help but be drawn to Jack Stephanson, her coworker. In addition, Raleigh’s mother is very ill. Harmon must have faith and use everything within her to survive and solve this case. Giorello created great characters. Each is interesting and has a strong personality. I truly admire Raleigh and wish there were more characters like her out there. Raleigh is a joy to read about. Sibella Giorello has become one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait to read her other books. Anyone could enjoy this novel whether or not they are Christian. Religion is definitely a part of the story, but The Stars Shine Bright is not overly filled with references to faith.
I had the privilege of interviewing Sibella Giorello, on our radio show “Kingdom Highlights”, for her new book, “The Stars Shine Bright” Book Five in the Raleigh Harmon series published by Thomas Nelson which takes Raleigh Harmon undercover at the race track. From the back cover: 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. Lately I have been missing the classic mysteries that I used to read when I was younger where the investigator is trying to solve an almost impossible mystery but manages to do it one clue at a time. The reader was given all those clues and, most times, we were unable to figure out what was going on until the investigator explained it. Those days seem to be over. Well let me tell you Sibella Giorello writes mysteries similar to those old classic writers. I did not want to put down “The Stars Shine Bright”. This time Raleigh Harmon is at a race track completely out of her element and there is quite a lot going on. Ms. Harmon starts to provide the clues almost on page five but she doesn’t start to link them together until about page 260. This book will have you flipping pages as fast as you can read. Everyone needs a champion and Raleigh Harmon is a good one. Ms. Giorello has created a winner with this series. If you like a good mystery with twists and turns and some heart racing action then this is the book for you. I recommend this book highly and am looking forward to the next book in the series. Win a Kindle Fire from @SibellaGiorello in “The Stars Shine Bright” Giveaway! Enter Today – 8/4-8/25! Novelist Sibella Giorello is celebrating the release of the latest 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. Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter If you missed the interview for “The Stars Shine Bright” or “The Mountains Bow Down”, book four in this series and would like to listen to it and/or other interviews as well please go to Kingdom Highlights where it is available On Demand. To listen to 24 hours non-stop, commercial free Christian music please visit our internet radio station Kingdom Airwaves Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. 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.”
Working undercover to solve an increasingly complicated mystery is never an easy task, but when you’re also up against the complex personalities found at the horse track stables, all bets are off (pardon the pun). Special Agent Raleigh Harmon has found her passion while working for the FBI, but when crazy circumstances leave her temporarily suspended, she jumps at one last chance to prove herself. But there are a lot of people in her way – her case agent that is awaiting her demise, the suspicious horse owners at Emerald Meadows, her mother who has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and her fiancé who is begging her to quit her job. Meanwhile, horses are dying, jockeys are being injured, and Raleigh suspects the security personnel at the tracks may be covering something up. On top of all this, Raleigh herself is suddenly pinned as the top suspect, but unable to drop her undercover alias, she’s scrounging around for ways to prove that she is innocent. It all comes down on a dark night when death plots, mobsters and ruthless stalkers all converge. I highly recommend The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello. I was a little wary when starting out because I am not a fan of horses or race tracks, but this novel really drew me in and I could barely put it down. My only complaint is that I wished she would have given her fiancé more of a chance, I thought he seemed like a great guy. If you enjoy a good mystery, I can guarantee this is one you won’t be able to solve. The Rivers Run Dry and The Clouds Roll Away precede this novel in the Raleigh Harmon series. Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this book from a publicity agency. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own.
In The Stars Shine Bright, FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is dealing with fallout from her last assignment. While waiting to hear what form of discipline she will suffer for improperly acquiring evidence during that case, she is assigned to go undercover and find out who is fixing races and making horses sick at the racetrack. Problem is, she only has two weeks to solve the case and hopefully gain some brownie points in her favor to counteract her past screw-ups. Not only does Raleigh have job-related issues, but her mother is in a mental hospital and refuses to see her, her fiancé is pressuring her to quit her job and come home to Virginia for good, she has to meet weekly with a bureau approved shrink, and fellow FBI agent Jack Stephanson is keeping tabs on her like she’s in kindergarten. Struggling to keep up with the lies she tells in her undercover assignment, as well as the lies she tells the people she loves in a vain attempt to shield them and herself from the truth, Agent Harmon’s life spirals down to sheer desperation. Instead of reining her in, the threat of discipline actually puts her further out on the edge. She is willing to do most anything to catch the culprits and solve the case, even to the point of putting her own life in jeopardy. I love this series and naturally want to hurry up and read them straight through, but I tend to slow down and savor certain passages. Sibella Giorello has a way with words and description that put you right there in the scene – a fly on the wall of the horse barn, so to speak. She also has a great sense of humor and manages to lighten the dark stuff once in a while with something so off the wall that I find myself laughing out loud – like the bumper sticker Raleigh finds in the room of a crazy animal rights extremist – tofu never screams. A section where she gorges on salt to throw off a lie detector test is so filled with self-recrimination, desperation, justification, paranoia, and wry humor to be a masterpiece of the human condition. Or maybe I’m reading more into it than is there, but whatever the case, I wholeheartedly recommend The Stars Shine Bright, and the entire series for that matter. If there is anything negative I could say about this book, it’s that I’m totally confused about which love interest Raleigh should pursue. Jack or DeMott? I think she needs them both. * I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (and I did not eat a large quantity of salt before writing it)
Raleigh Harmon is an FBI agent with a problem following protocol. She is a good agent and puts her all into her work, but the suits just don't care for her methods, and are putting her under a lot of pressure. In fact she is given a case and told she has two weeks to solve it. She has two weeks to learn the horse racing business. To learn who is fixing the races and who is making horses sick. Seems like it should be an fairly easy case, but that is where the issues begin. It isn't an easy case and it is becoming more dangerous by the day, with a fire that nearly kills her, horses dying, and Raleigh finds that she is on to something that is much deeper than fixing horse races. This is the first book I have read by Sibella Giorello, and I enjoyed it very much. I did however get bogged down a bit in the story, it required my full attention to keep everything straight. The mystery was great, the action adventure was good too, there were just so many characters to keep straight. This author is easily a new favorite on my list, and I will definitely watch for other books by her. 4 stars 400 pages $15.99 US.
The Stars Shine Bright, fifth novel in Sibella Giorello’s Raleigh Harmon series, is quick paced and quick witted, with special agent Harmon going undercover to discover who might be fixing races at a local thoroughbred horse track. After almost losing her life in a locked stall when a fire breaks out and seeing horses come down with mysterious symptoms that are leading to their deaths, Harmon realizes there’s a lot more at stake here than someone lining their pockets. Matching wits with the bad guys, her “aunt” (a Tennessee Williams quoting stable owner), and FBI agent Jack Stephanson keeps her on the top of her game and keeps the reader chomping at the bit for more. Although it may be the fifth book in the series, it is the first Raleigh Harmon book I have read, and after tapping the last page on my kindle I asked myself how in the world I could have missed this fantastic crime novel series. Raleigh Harmon has certainly risen to the top of my “favorite crime fighters” list. Harmon is at her best with a case on her mind and a Glock in her hand, even as she struggles with affairs of the heart. She’s smart, savvy, and sassy – all the while remaining sensitive to God’s leading. She’s the complete package, not only a special agent but also a forensic geologist, which satisfies my geeky side. (Is that a bent toward creation science I sense, Ms. Harmon?) She’s also a caring daughter desiring a mended relationship with her mother, who was admitted into a mental institution after a break with reality. If you have read the previous Giorello’s books, I’m certain you will enjoy hanging out with Raleigh Harmon again. As a newbie to the series, I am certain that I will buy the previous novels and get to know special agent Harmon a bit better. With Kentucky-Derby-high levels of tension and excitement, The Stars Shine Bright bolts out of the gate like Secretariat on a dry track, so hold on tight. Courtesy Copy of The Stars Shine Bright received from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.
In The Stars Shine Bright FBI agent Raleigh Harmon goes undercover at Emerald Downs racetrack to find out why racehorses keep dying and hopefully salvage her career which is under intense scrutiny by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Her work creates tension between Raleigh and her fiancé DeMott who wants her to give up her work and return to Virginia with him. Sibella Giorello creates a suspenseful and engaging mystery rich in poetic imagery. Raleigh is a complex character whose desire for truth and justice doesn’t always fit into the meticulous procedural protocol the FBI expects from her. She is out there in the field among tragedy and crime while most of the higher ups behind their desks only have an eye for protocol. Beloved literature professor Laurence Perrine said in his book Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense “The ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings that words have are an obstacle to the scientist but a resource to the poet.” Both The Mountains Bow Down and The Stars Shine Bright are interesting and enjoyable stories that use poetry to talk about science. Author, Sibella Giorello uses a geologists’ vocabulary to guide her word choice. This gives the story’s narrator a distinct voice. Thematically, the story focuses on juxtaposing the value of human rights and animal rights against a backdrop of financial and career crisis. The Stars Shine Bright will challenge the readers’ value of human life in spite of the costs using the richness of poetry to talk about the science of truth and justice. I’m glad I read it. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”
Raleigh Harmon is a Special Agent for the FBI, at least she is for now. After "bending the rules" to solve a case, Raleigh is in hot water with their internal affairs department (they want her fired) and under scrutiny with everyone else. Some don't believe she can be trusted to keep cases clean. There are, however, some who still believe in her. Will their support and Raleigh's ability to function well under pressure be enough to save her career? Raleigh has one last chance to save her job with the FBI, and it requires going undercover. She is assigned to go undercover at a racetrack (Emerald Downs) and has only two weeks to discover if there is a crime being committed, and if so, who the guilty parties are. Two weeks doesn't seem to be enough time, and she doesn't want to take this case, but Raleigh knows this is her life on the line. The accusation is that horses are being set up to win, then drugged so that they will lose. Is this true? Why are some horses dying? Raleigh's undercover assignment also leaves her only one link to the outside world - Special Agent Jack Stephanson. She is drawn to him, but is an engaged woman. What will happen in her relationship with Jack? Can Raleigh save her career, her family, and her sanity? The answers to all of these questions and many more await you in this latest book by Sibella Giorello. I love this series by Sibella Giorello, and am thrilled to have read this fifth book. Raleigh and Jack are well thought out characters who are fun to follow through the books, and the supporting characters are well written. Ms. Giorello takes great care to pull the reader into the lives of her characters and into the plot of the story. I found it very hard to put down. Her books are great for mystery and detective fans everywhere, but I also encourage others to pick up the series and enjoy it with us!
Just to let themiraclesnook know, this is the 5th book in the Raleigh Harmon series.
The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello is a great book. This is book number four in the Raleigh Harmon series. In this book Raleigh finds herself with her hands full. First of all she has to fix her job situation in the FBI, then there is a wedding to plan the sooner the better according to her fiancé and then there is the matter of Special Agent Jack Stephenson her sometimes enemy. In the book we find Raleigh going under cover at Emerald Downs. Then there is the matter of her Aunt Charlotte who wants her to give up the FBI to work in her shop and be a geologist and there was also her mother whom she has helped to financially support since he father was murdered. Thanks to her job her mother was not even speaking to her currently. It was after all one of the very reasons her mother had a nervous breakdown. Yes her hands were full, but now in her new under cover job it was up to her to get to the bottom of just who was fixing the horse races. Oh and let not forget that her only contact with FBI during this assignment is no other than Jack Stephenson who she keeps finding attractive which makes her question her fiancé. I do not want to tell you more but really you need to get the book and read it yourself. I will tell you this it is fun and faced paced and I find that the author Sibella Giorello just keeps getting better. I think this book is better that the last one I read from this series. You can follow this book out of order in the series as well which is good. I give this book my best rating it is a five star rating all the way. BookSneeze provided me with a complimentary copy for my honest review. The opinions in this review are my own.
Special Agent Raleigh Harmon returns in this fifth installment of the "Raleigh Harmon" series, seeking to overcome the tarnish on her name for bending the rules of the FBI in her prior case. When she is given the chance to go undercover at a thoroughbred horse track, Emerald Downs, Raleigh jumps at the chance to prove her worth as an agent of excellence. Soon into the case of attempting to find out who is fixing the horse races, Raleigh learns that more is going on than initially suspected, and experiences an attempt on her life. While trying to uncover the truth, she also must sift through the debris of her personal life, reaching out to her mom in the mental hospital, fighting her attraction to Special Agent Jack Stephanson (who is her FBI contact while she's undercover), and sorting out her feelings for her fiance. Broken and exhausted, Raleigh lays it all on the line, "searching for a place where the stars shine bright". I have loved each and every novel by Sibella Giorello, and the trend continues with The Stars Shine Bright. Giorello's writing is smooth and a joy to read, and each novel just gets better! Raleigh Harmon is a character that I've grown to absolutely appreciate over the course of the series, for her humour, her courage, and her heart of gold. I love that she always seems to find herself smack in the middle of trouble, with non-stop entertainment and unexpected discoveries to follow! She is a character who is painted with strokes of realism, complete with flaws but also with much to inspire. The setting of the race track provides for numerous potentially sinister characters, resulting in twists and turns in the story line that led me to an unexpected but most excellent conclusion. I continue to appreciate the mix of FBI fieldwork and geological discoveries, making for interesting plots. My only question upon turning the last page of the book is whether there will be more books to come starring my favorite FBI agent....I sure hope so! I highly recommend this marvelous read, and grant it 5 out of 5 stars. Readers who have enjoyed the prior books starring Raleigh will love this one as well. And, if you haven't yet picked up one of Giorello's books, what are you waiting for? Now's your chance - you won't regret it. An advanced reader's copy has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purposes of this unbiased review.