I really enjoy reading the Raleigh Harmon series books. The author uses language so effectively, at times poetically, that the characters live on long after you have finished the book. Looking forward to reading more of Sibella Girorella's writing.
For me this was more like 3.5 stars but closer to three than four, so that's why I gave it three. Interestingly enough, I read through chapter 7 of The Stones Cry Out and never had the desire to pick it up again, so I didn't. But then I'd read some positive things about this author's work and saw some nominations for awards and thought maybe I missed something. So I agreed to do a blog tour for this book.
I did finish The Clouds Roll Away because I agreed to post a review for the tour, or I probably wouldn't have finished this book. The writing style seemed kind of choppy to me and sometimes spiritual reflection seemed to come out of the sky. It was nice that I read it around Christmas since that was the time period for the majority of the story, but at the same time the continual references to phrases in well-known Christmas songs and hymns annoyed me. Why not just say mom was listening to Silent Night? Or O Holy Night? Most people know the lyrics anyway, so quoting partial phrases didn't make sense to me. Even non-Christians know those songs.
Anyway, I did find some aspects of the FBI theme compelling and it was kinda cool how various seemingly unrelated elements pulled together toward the end. At the same time, I found some of the details a bit gruesome (like people's faces being blown off and then described further than that) and so I got some unpleasant visuals of bloated dead bodies and such. I was scared for her when she kept dealing with the crack house. But other than that, I would have to say if I never read another book by Sibella I wouldn't be sad about it. She just doesn't write the type of stories I enjoy reading. If she had gotten a little deeper into her relationship with her mother or with Demott, then I would have enjoyed the story more. It just seemed too superficial to me and other than worrying about Raleigh on occasion, I didn't connect much with the characters in the story.
On the positive end, I did feel like I knew Raleigh better by book's end, so that was good, but if I hadn't been doing the tour I probably would've stopped reading it about halfway through when the part about finding the dead guys in the water came up, because it grossed me out so much. At that point I still felt like I barely knew Raleigh. It could be one of those situations where reading prior novels in the series would have given me an entirely different perspective.
I did find it interesting that a white author had written so many negative things into this storyline that were racial stereotypes for both white and black folks, and the author hasn't been criticized. Then again, this story was set in the old south, so racial tension has pretty much been a deep thread in Virginia history for centuries, so it fit the storyline. Did this book inspire me? Not really. But it might inspire someone else. The author definitely knows how to weave a compelling, if not a bit gruesome and complex suspense/crime mystery. That was well done.
The Clouds Roll Away is the third book in Sibella Giorello's Raleigh Harmon series. FBI Special agent Raleigh is back in Richmond after a disciplinary transfer to Seattle for a year. She is happy to be home again, but before she can really settle in and get back to normal, a cross burning in front of the plantation house that a well-known black rapper has recently moved into, starts racial tensions soaring and brings unwelcome media attention to bear on how the case is handled. Her supervisor wants it solved and solved quickly, but Raleigh's resolve to get to the truth rather than just tie things up in a neat bow could mean the death of her career.
Raleigh Harmon is still dealing with the unsolved murder of her father, a mother who is teetering on the brink of an emotional breakdown, and feelings for an old high school boyfriend whom she can't quite get over. In the midst of that are dead bodies with KKK tattoos, crack houses, and gangbangers.
The Clouds Roll Away is not just a novel about race issues, but about heart issues. Without God's redemption we are all lost in our depravity. Raleigh witnesses the sickness of sin in the rich as well as the poor, black and white, male and female. During the hap-happiest time of the year--Christmas--Richmond is seething with violence and hatred. I was profoundly moved by a scene in a crack house where two young children and their addict mother sit watching A Charlie Brown Christmas while a man is beaten and crack is being cooked on the stove in the next room. The children listen to Linus reciting the story of the Lord's birth while their father plans murders and makes drug deals.
As an FBI agent, Raleigh witnesses horrors no one should have to see, while trying to maintain a calm, professional exterior. Her faith in God, and hope that someday she will solve her father's murder seem to be what keeps her going. Raleigh doesn't believe in luck. She knows who's in control. And every once in a while the clouds roll away...
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 to 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.
I love a book with a FBI agent as the lead character. After spending the fall in the FBI Citizen's Academy here in Indiana, I feel better able to judge whether the author has done their research and crafted a character who has the authentic feel of an agent. With Raleigh Harmon, Sibella Giorello has done just that. Raleigh is in a fight to stay in the FBI -- for reasons unknown to me because I have not read the first book yet. But she is a committed agent, doing all she can and more to solve cases. This book focuses on two cases: one involving a hate crime and the other a drug operation. What seems simple becomes highly complicated, and the pages flew as I tried to stay ahead of Raleigh. Unlike some books I've read lately, I didn't figure this one out until near the end - a welcome relief. And the writing was great. Highly recommend for those who like twisting plots with a spattering of bodies.