As the story begins, Forensic Geologist and FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is under review for her propensity to do whatever it takes to solve a case, even when it means bending the rules of law. Her one chance to save her career is to take an undercover assignment on a case of suspected race fixing. She poses as the niece of a wealthy thoroughbred owner. This takes us, as readers, into the world of horse racing where we meet quirky characters in the form of owners, jockeys, trainers, bookies and mobsters. Raleigh risks her life in her efforts to find out why winning horses suddenly lose and sometimes die. The answer isnít as easy as she first believes. Unable once again to stick to the rules, she is taken off the case and suspended. However, once Raleigh is on a case, she canít stop until she finishes it so she continues on her own until the case is solved.
Early in the book, Raleighís life is revealed as a bit of a mess. She is engaged to a man who is obviously unable to cope with her FBI career. Her mother has suffered a mental breakdown because of Raleighís lying and refuses to speak to her. The only person Raleigh can confide in is an agent who is a constant irritation and occasionally behaves as if he cares for her. Raleigh has conscience issues because of her own deceitfulness, yet thrives in a career that encourages deceit. The one constant is her Christian faith, always remembering to pray before meals. I like that Raleigh shows that becoming a Christian doesnít always fix everything. We know that Christians continue to struggle with their own inner frailties while holding on to Christ.
The Stars Shine Bright is the fifth in the Raleigh Harmon series, but the first Iíve read. It is an enjoyable book with engaging characters and fast paced action. I wish I had read the previous books in the series before this one. I was a little confused at the beginning while I picked up bits and pieces of the back story. However, the plot was easily powerful enough to hold my attention while I caught up.
Author Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. She worked as a journalist with stories winning state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.
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