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Mountains – Reason 5

Here are my TOP TEN REASONS for writing The Mountains Bow Down.

#5: Poetry

Mountains Bow Down

That’s right. I said it: Poetry.

Yes, I do realize my books are murder mysteries. But I love poetry. If you’re not reading it, you’re not living.

Readers constantly comment on these Raleigh Harmon titles, and the overwhelming majority really-really-really like the series’ names. But every now and again someone feels the compulsion to tell me, “These titles don’t sound like other mystery/thriller/romantic suspense novels.”

My usual reply, in all graciousness: “Duh!”

I chose these titles for some good reasons (including poetry), and fortunately my publisher agreed. The Mountains Bow Down harmonizes with The Stones Cry Out, The Rivers Run Dry, The Clouds Roll Away, and The Stars Shine Bright and future books, of course.


Alaska’s Inside Passage

My hope is that these titles will tip off readers, right from the start. Although the protagonist is an FBI agent, the Raleigh Harmon mysteries are not just-the-facts-ma’am. She’s also a geologist with a keen eye for nature, and a struggling believer constantly pondering how earth-faith-good-evil can all coexist together.

Of the five titles so far, The Mountains Bow Down might be my favorite. It has what my scary high school English teacher called “internal rhyme.” Can you hear it — the “ou-ow-ow” progression of the words? I love it. (P.S. While I name these books, I can’t explain from where the names come. They’re more grace for an undeserving scribe).

Another poetic element in The Mountains Bow Down is the imagery, especially considering Alaska’s towering peaks. It’s an image vivid enough to capture the passion of various writers of scripture, each referencing how nature will “bow down” to God (hello, sweet Christian nitpickers: please check Nahum, Joel, Isaiah, or the Psalms...).

I do try—really, really—to keep “purple prose” away from these murder-mysteries. Nothing worse than too much description (except maybe too little). But geologists study the earth all the way down to grains of sand, and they tend to notice things—things other people miss.


Ketchikan’s version of Google Maps


That string of bruises across a victim’s throat looks to Raleigh like “violet pearls.” Hymnals left behind in an abandoned church have “the atmospheric damp of books stored in wet basements.” And beams of sunlight are “translucent.”

It’s a big beautiful world, full of poetry. And Raleigh knows it.

So do her readers.

The mile-wide tongue of blue-and-white ice stretched five miles back, reaching up to a mountain peak that pointed straight to God. I heard Jack gasp, then gasp again as the front of the glacier snapped and a falling block of ice the size of an office building plunged straight down into the water. … In the bright sun, the water glistened like jewels.

And the block of ice bobbed, already hiding how much lay beneath the surface.

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