From the back of the book:
“Everything’s going to work out. Time away always makes things better … That’s what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska. A land of mountains and gems and minerals, the Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who’s hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance. But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh’s vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship’s security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh’s forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.”
Just my opinion:
This is the second book by this author I’ve reviewed. The first was “The Clouds Roll Away” about a year ago. That review can be found here.
First off, let me say I’m such a huge fan of Sibella Giorello. She is an excellent writer and her stories have such wonderful descriptions (see passages below for examples). She is a former journalist and I love reading books by those who are or have been in my chosen profession. In journalism classes, we learn how to capture the reader’s attention and keep it. Gone are the days of the “inverted pyramid.” Now we are told to keep the reader from putting the paper down after the first couple sentences. After all, we put a lot of work into our stories and we want the reader to stay with us to the end.
The first thing about writing is to have a good “hook” or lead. The first passage I listed below is the opening for this book and as you can tell, it grips you right from page one. And the author doesn’t stop there. She continues to write with such panache and style. Just beautiful!
On top of that, the story is quite compelling. Here is a group of people on a cruise ship through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world. It’s a cruise many say they would someday like to take. Yet, when a body is found dangling from the side of the ship by a noose, the main character (who just happens to be an FBI agent) immediately suspects foul play, even though most of the evidence points to suicide. Not to be deterred, she launches her own investigation, recruiting the help of the reluctant chief of security. Convincing her boss of her suspicions, he sends out assistance – her former nemesis Jack Stephanson.
This really is a superbly written novel by an author from my own state of Washington! Now, I’m on my way to see if I can find the other two novel in this series about FBI agent Raleigh Harmon before the next book comes out next year.
Some favorite passages from the book:
With the trajectory of launched missiles, the mountains soared from the ocean. Smothered with evergreens, the steeps pointed to a sky so blue it whispered of eternity.
The ocean brushed against the side, whooshing and splashing.
Under the sun shining as though clouds didn’t exist, Juneau clung to the bottom of two mountains, Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau. Near ninety degrees, the slopes fell with the long and lush lines of weighted skirts. Between the shops along the waterfront, strips of wooden stairs stitched up the hillsides, embroidering small houses to green forests.
When I saw the federal building, it didn’t exactly lift my spirits. The place was an aesthetic crime, especially amid such fulsome natural beauty.
I could see the gray-green channel as it coursed past Douglas Island. And the mountain forest looked like a quiver of emerald arrows, aimed for a cerulean sky that leased eternity.
Finally dipping, the sun was placing rose-colored crowns on the snowcapped mountains, and the glaciated rock, backlit by golden rays, had the detailed splendor of the finest filigree.
One day the oceans would rise and the mountains bow down, and every last speck of this cherished earth would be forced to recognize true power and true majesty.