After a couple of months of exile (a disciplinary assignment to Washington), Raleigh Harmon is back in her beloved Richmond, Virginia. Though she's returned to her home town, the FBI has her on a very short leash with every move she makes scrutinized and second guessed. In this stressful environment, Raleigh is assigned a hate crime case for a celebrity musician. However, as questions start to mount and the case grows, the FBI's restrictions threaten to prevent her from finding the culprit. Is it simply a case of the KKK rising from the shadows and starting a new reign of terror or is there a new evil surfacing in Richmond. In a gripping story involving, drugs, murder, hate, and violence, The Clouds Roll Away is both mysterious and suspenseful, providing the reader with a perfect combination of evil and grace.
I have really enjoyed the Raleigh Harmon series and am glad to know there are even more books to come. The Clouds Roll Away is a continuation of the series and though chronologically after The River Runs Dry, it builds more on the first book, The Stones Cry Out. Since it has been three years since that book, it was nice that Giorello included some background information for those who may not have read it or have forgotten some of the characters. There is some overlap with each of these books, but they are independent of each other and can be read in any order.
Raleigh seems to have a knack of putting herself into tough situations. Bless her heart, even trying to stay out of trouble and play by the rules, she still managed to upset her manager enough to open another investigation of her actions. However, even with all the turmoil in her life, she still has the qualities that make a great character. She's got just enough sarcasm to be humorous and just enough emotion to let us know she's got a heart. Her relationship with her mother, Nadine, though bizarre is still a great part of this series. In The Clouds Roll Away, we get to see her mom try to survive Christmas. Much of her actions seem a bit strange, but what we really get to see is a woman trying to overcome grief. I love that Giorello portrays Nadine so tenderly. She and Raleigh are both Christian characters, but with Nadine we get an externalized picture of God rebuilding her life. There is nothing wrong with Christians struggling with psychological issues and I like how this aspect of her character has been included.
When The Clouds Roll Away began, I thought we might be getting a second racially charged novel similar to The Stones Cry Out. While this book centers on a hate crime, we get a different view of racism. It is not simply a story of white supremacy. Instead, it encourages us to look beyond the stereotypes and preconceived notions to the heart of the person. It asks us to see at the inside, the place that cannot hide from God, rather than the nice and tidy outward presentation. Though the hate crime is always in the background, it eventually fades and other activities take center stage. With multiple crimes, subplots, and characters, Giorello eventually brings all the separate events together and creates an ending that is quite satisfying.
I definitely like Raleigh in Richmond much better than in Washington. The feeling that Giorello added to this book, just from the setting was incredible. It contrasts the romanticized charm of the south with the violence of its past and simmering undertones of the present. The internal thoughts and nostalgia we pick up from Raleigh as she travels from one part of the city to the next makes us feel a part of the story. With her ability to make the city integral, Giorello adds even more life to an already outstanding novel.
Needless to say, I'm a fan of this series and I look forward to the next Raleigh Harmon book currently scheduled to be published in 2011. While the main portion of The Clouds Roll Away is wrapped up, there are some open ends and I'm looking forward to seeing where those lead. It was good to reconnect with the characters from Richmond again and hopefully Raleigh will stay out of trouble so that we can visit them again soon.
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About the reviewer
Melissa Willis (MeliWillis)
A little bit about me. I read primarily Christian fiction. My favorites are suspense, with supernatural elements always being a plus. I most enjoy books that will keep me thinking well after I'm done … more
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*Starred Review* Someone in Richmond, Virginia’s elite historical neighbornood wants rap star RPM to leave their little slice of paradise, and they let him know by burning a cross in his yard. FBI agent Raleigh Harmon, a forensic geologist transferred back home from the Pacific Northwest, is tapped to investigate what seems to be a hate crime, but soon discovers it’s more than that. As Raleigh dedicates herself to solving this case, going undercover for a dangerous sting, her former boyfriend, DeMott Fielding, wants to rekindle their relationship. Pulled in too many ways by ostracism at work, DeMott’s renewed need for her (and her time), and her widowed mother’s increasingly worse mental condition, Raleigh is on the edge. Beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, Giorello’s mystery also features well-developed characters, such as a rapper who plays classical music on a cello to relax. The themes of redemption and faith rediscovered are subtly integrated into the story. This is the third title in journalist Giorello’s excellent Raleigh Harmon series, following The Stones Cry Out (2007) and The Rivers Run Dry (2009). Libraries will want all three. --Shelley Mosley