Thanks to a broken wrist, hurt knee, and other ailments, I’ve had ample time to watch crime and mystery shows, and read, a lot. When Litfuse Publicity had a call out to bloggers to review Sibella Giorello‘s fifth installment with Raleigh Harmon in The Stars Shine Bright, I pecked away on the keyboard, hoping to get the chance. Raleigh Harmon is like an old friend as I’ve read all the other books about Raleigh’s work with the FBI and the toll her work and the way she handles herself affects others.

The Stars Shine Bright picks up where The Mountains Bow Down leaves off. Raleigh faces a fresh start, not because she wants to, but because she has to. The FBI suspended her for bending the rules. Her mom isn’t in great health or speaking to her, and it’s her fault. Her fiance is in Virginia, but she isn’t. The FBI offers her a second chance with an undercover job in the horse racing business in the northwest. Taking the job offers her redemption, but puts her with Special Agent Jack Stephenson, and further from her fiance, who wants to start their life together immediately.

As Raleigh sinks further into her undercover role, she learns a great deal about the track, the horses, and herself. That’s all I’m going to give you, because you need to read this yourself.

I love Sibella Giorello’s work. She’s a master with research, blending forensic geology, the FBI, and in this book, the horse racing industry. Raleigh is a perfect fit in this undercover role because the author did her homework once again. The emotional conflict Raleigh has with her past and present situations is moving, I felt as under Raleigh’s skin thinking about her lies as much as her work ordered psych consult was. It’s a gripping story where the villain/s aren’t revealed until the end, and realistically so. Her romantic life has as much conflict as her work.  The Stars Shine Bright clocks in at 400 pages and reading it, it seems half that. The pages turn themselves, and fast.

I suggest if you haven’t read the others, do so. I think The Stars Shine Bright could stand alone I suppose, but why should it? Do yourself a favor and read the others. Doing so will be the highlight of your summer, in my opinion.

As an aside, you know what would be amazing in the fiction FBI world–hint hint–Sibella Giorello and Steven James? Collaborate and bring Patrick Bowers and Raleigh Harmon together for some crime solving dysfunction.  I devour their books and FBI characters.

But the bottom line here? Looking for a smart and suspenseful read? The Stars Shine Bright delivers.

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 fiance 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 fiance 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.

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.


Visit Sibella Giorello online at, Facebook or Twitter.

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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