(Click cover for more information)If you're looking for a great, edge-of-the-seat crime novel with a unique perspective, you've found it. In The Rivers Run Dry, Ms. Giorello introduces you to the gritty world of FBI field work, but through the eyes of Special Agent Raleigh Harmon, a forensic geologist by training. Forensic geology. I didn't even know that existed--but then, why wouldn't it?
The story is set in and around the Cascade Mountains in Washington state (what better setting for a geological slant?). A young woman, Courtney VanAlstyne, goes missing while hiking the trails of Cougar Mountain. The only child of a wealthy and well connected family, political pressure is intense and immediate that Courtney be found. The family is convinced it's a kidnapping; the law enforcement establishment, not so convinced.
Enter Special Agent Harmon, recently transferred for disciplinary cause from her home state of Virginia to the Pacific Northwest. Her technical and professional skills are beyond reproach. Her political acumen is not. We meet Raleigh perservering under a cloud of distrust from both the professional black mark in her records and a concrete gender barrier in the male-dominated Violent Crimes unit. Prodded and pushed without mercy or support by her supervisor and her training agent, she navigates the back streets of Seattle and the back trails of the Cascades in search of anything that may shed light on the rich girl's disappearance. She tackles the case the hard way: clue by clue, step by misstep.
Ms. Giorello delves into a wide variety of issues through Raleigh's personal and professional life as she touches and is touched by a colorful supporting cast. She does a marvelous job of weaving them seamlessly into the story line instead of basting them awkwardly over the fabric of... Wait. This is supposed to be a geological slant. What am I doing at the sewing machine? Let me try again.
Crystalline flecks of humor, pathos, frustration and dogged determination sparkle across the lustrous grain of a polished, rock-solid story line...
Okay, okay. Now you know why Sibella got the publishing contract and not me. (sigh!)
Enough fun. This was a great read. Ms. Giorello constructs a squeaky-tight, well paced plot involving multi-dimensional characters who are real enough that you love them one moment and want to slap them silly the next. You learn a lot about both geology and crime-investigation techniques without getting lost in technical jargon. You also learn a lot about human nature as it bends, and sometimes breaks, under the pressure of society, religion and its own weight.
Highly recommended. The Rivers Run Dry rocks! (Sorry, I had to do that.)