In my years of book reviews, one of the authors whose work has been consistently enthralling and entertaining is Sibella Giorello. And who doesn’t love her name! When I found out there was a blog tour for her latest Raleigh Harmon novel, I knew wanted consideration to be included on the tour bus.
Here is the synopsis of ‘The Stars Shine Bright’:
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.
Here is the author’s biography:
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.
I love Sibella’s writing style! Here are a few examples:
During my five years in the FBI’s mineralogy lab, I learned that two of the worst bedfellows were justice and politics. While justice focused on the truth, politics manipulated the truth for its own gain. Throw in the media, which only reported the truth that fit their preconceived ideas, and it was little wonder that the fallen world was speeding toward hell in a handbasket. (p. 89)
All my life, I’d managed to muscle through trouble, always fighting. And winning. But lately I was realizing that my problems were getting bigger and my self-sufficiency smaller. I needed help. Real help. And standing among the snorting animals, when I closed my eyes to pray, my mind felt fuzzy from last night’s crying jag. From this morning’s blitzkrieg by an arson inspector and Hurricane Yuck. There was nobody to talk to about it, except an invisible element that was more real than what I could see or touch. It was the one who rescued me, who redeemed me, who saw each loose end, every question – all my worries – and knew every answer. I would never be able to explain it in rational terms, but when I was at my worst, that was when I saw Jesus. The greatest inverse relationship in the universe: when I was weak, He was strong. (p. 121)
The only thing that did not ‘grab me’ about this novel is the portions of the story set in the world of horse racing. For some reason, it did not resonate with me. Despite that, it is clear from all of the details included that Sibella either had done a lot of research on the topic, or has had some involvement in the thoroughbred world. I did learn a lot about that aspect of life in this world.
As usual for a Giorello novel, I enjoyed ‘The Stars Shine Bright.’ Sibella is truly a gifted author. And with the dangling conclusion to this book, I can tell that there will be another Raleigh Harmon Novel from the creative brain of Mrs. Giorello!
This book was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and provided by the Litfuse Publicity Group for review purposes.