The Rivers Run Dry is the first book by Sibella Giorello that I’ve had the pleasure to read and is today’s feature for Mystery Monday. This is the 2nd book (there are now 6 published in this series as well as 3 prequels, two classed as YA) in her Raleigh Harmon mystery series. A Virginia girl, born and bred, Raleigh is a geologist working for the FBI who has been banished to Seattle by her previous supervisor for not following orders. Said supervisor would have sent her to Alaska if there had been an opening but, as Seattle was the next furthest away with an opening, that’s where Raleigh was sent.
Raleigh and her mother have moved in with exotic Aunt Charlotte, owner of a store called Seattle Stones which sells amulets, jewelry, stones with healing and protection properties, moon rocks, and paranormal paraphernalia; her store is often frequented by confused, scruffy teenagers mistaking it for a bong shop. Aunt Charlotte sends a psychic out to find Raleigh and help her solve a missing persons case. Raleigh’s mother is mentally fragile from the recent death of her husband and Raleigh copes by keeping memorabilia in her bedroom almost as a shrine to her dad and keeps her door locked. Her Aunt Charlotte knows what Raleigh does for a living and is sworn to secrecy. As far as her mom knows, she’s just a geologist. Her dog, Madame, is a pretty good search dog and Raleigh often takes her along as she explores possible crime scenes.
With all this on her plate, Raleigh’s having a bit of a tough time fitting in on her new job. Her new teammates and supervisor don’t trust her, her parking spot is about a mile from the office, and her partner is sending her on dud assignments without enough information, sometimes getting her in trouble with her boss. In the middle of an assignment, she hasn’t been given all the information and makes the understandable mistake of arresting someone who it turns out is a police informant.
Her first assignment concerns the disappearance of a wealthy college student. Meeting with Detective Markel and Trooper Ron Lowell from the local and state police on Cougar Mountain, Raleigh is introduced to Fern Valley with the Issaquah Parks Department who had found the girl’s green Land Rover abandoned in a parking lot used by hikers setting out on the trails. Raleigh takes some forensic evidence and “files it” as told by her partner. When her supervisor gets a call from Washington, suddenly the “nothing” case has become a top priority. It leads Raleigh into the centre of criminal activity involving the native-run casino, a junkie prostitute, a high-stakes poker game, a terrorist plot, and, believe it or not, a homeless mission where her mother begins to put her life back together, where the preacher tells her Jesus will fill “that place inside where the rivers run dry”. Some of the evidence Raleigh has gathered leads her into an unauthorized search on the north side of Cougar Mountain where old mine shafts created bottomless pits flooded with black water and somewhere on this mountain is a sadistic stalker.
This is a top notch mystery with a lot of unusual aspects, not the least of which are the use of geology to pinpoint a crime scene, a homeless mission to help a trying-to-reform junkie (as well as Raleigh’s mother), and a native-run casino that is a cover for diverse criminal activities. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Giorello’s novels based on this one and will certainly be picking up more of them for myself. * * * * *
If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review. You can also copy my MMM badge to your blogsite.