In The Clouds Roll Away, author Sibella Giorello brings us another installment of the many trials of Special Agent Raleigh Harmon. Some things have changed for Raleigh: she’s back home in Virginia and she is being pursued by an on-again-off-again suitor. But too much is the same: her new boss at the Richmond Bureau office is determined to remind her of Raleigh’s past reprimands and she still gets the worst car in the motor pool. Added to the mix of distractions are a mother on the verge of a mental breakdown and a tenant that becomes entangled in her investigations.
At first, the plot of The Clouds Rolls Away seems to be following Giorello’s first novel, The Stones Cry Out. But hang in there; the turn this story makes is worth the buildup it takes to get there. Another author once asked me what I felt when I read his novel. He said, what his readers feel is more important to him than the details they remember. Giorello’s strength is character development and mood. As to mood, one can’t help but feel the undertones that permeate the complicated culture of the old South. Southern gentility struggles to remain intact in the face of rapid changes and new residents that have no regard for accepted conventions. Good and bad are hard to distinguish beneath the prejudice of old money and the facade of new money. And don’t be fooled by those who are quickly assumed to be victims either. Nothing is at it seems on the banks of the James River.
Though the plot is well paced, character still wins out in The Clouds Roll Away. Raleigh is a person who feels certain in one aspect of her life – her training. Whenever she needs to concentrate, she resorts to thinking of the chemical structure of the dirt she is looking at. Forensic Geology is the one thing that makes complete sense. But maneuvering through the intricacies of government protocol and personal relationships baffle her. Why does she do her job so well but still find herself butting heads with everyone around her? Why does she find it so easy to deal harshly with her tenant when he messes up?
With all this character development you might wonder if there is a villain to be stopped. There is indeed a bad guy to catch – a really disgusting bad guy. In the process of uncovering that evil, Raleigh finally begins to come to grips with what is wrong with her own heart. From the death of her father the judge a few years earlier to her mother’s long regression to former times Raleigh has been living in a convoluted fog of faith and doubt. You’ll have to read to the very end to find out if, at last, The Clouds Roll Away.
Reviewed by Tim George
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 2010
Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 12:49 pm and is filed under Tim's Notes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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