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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello

A police detective and a man with a troubled past have fallen off the roof of an abandoned building while hundreds of people were protesting the owner of the building, but none of the protesters saw what really happened. Raleigh Harmon, FBI agent and forensic geologist, has teamed up with her fellow FBI agent John in order to investigate the case. The town has taken the side of the man with a troubled past because of his alleged acts of kindness toward them. The evidence Raleigh and John gather even shows that he was an inherently kind man. But other things about the case do not add up. No one's talking about the rooftop fall, and when no one talks, the stones cry out. Raleigh only hopes she's listening intently enough.

No one acknowledges Sibella Giorello as a respectable author, but this is probably because no one knows how to handle her originality. She uses plot elements not many authors use and eliminates plot elements too many authors use. There is only one reason not to like The Stones Cry Out.

The cast of characters is all it needs to be-imperfect with personalities. There are no mentor characters or perfect male leads. John is hardly a typical male lead at all, since he is in his fifties. Raleigh is an exemplary lead shown from the first person perspective, which is the best way any author can show off a character. There is virtually no villain-at least in the sense that most people think of villains.

There is no romantic subplot, not even the potential for one. In this day and age of fiction, that is a huge accomplishment. The absence of a perfect male lead must be rewarded because other authors have made this plot element distasteful. So many times suspense authors try to create the perfect male, but Sibella has done just the opposite.

But this is not the end of the superb plot elements. The answer to the case is surprising and unexpected. Not many other authors would have ended it the way Sibella did. From the start, the case was not typical; it set a precedent for other mystery authors to follow. Sibella also abstained from useless "suspense" elements that would have cluttered up the plot. The showdown, if you can call it a showdown, is realistic because Raleigh and John are not dealing with a typical monster villain. But the one reason not to like this book is because Sibella uses a strange and unrealistic method to reveal the answer to the mystery to Raleigh, therefore taking this book out of contention for five-stardom. This particular method is not really possible in the real world and thus cheapens the otherwise realistic plot.

In short, if Sibella can debut with this good a book, who knows what the rest of her career has in store for her.

4 stars

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