Before the Rain Falls

Written by Camille Di Maio
Review by Jeanne Greene

In this satisfying romantic mystery, three strangers with radically different goals find commonality in a small town at the southern tip of Texas. Mick Anders is tired of his job with a Boston newspaper; he’s about to get fired. Instead, he promises a “big story” and follows a slim lead to Puerto Pesar. Dr. Paloma Vega is visiting her family in Puerto Pesar. Although she is eager to return to her professional position in New York, it’s difficult to leave her aging mother and teenage sister behind. Now in her late nineties, Della Lee has been released from prison and, after serving 70 years for murdering her younger sister, she has come home to Puerto Pesar. Della has a house, two secrets and a good memory—everything she needs to write a book but time. Like any small town in summertime, Puerto Pesar welcomes newcomers; Mick and Paloma are drawn together and into Della’s world.

Di Maio braids three stories into an intriguing tapestry, telling one in reverse to keep readers in suspense. By working backward to the love that kept Della Lee in prison when she might have been paroled and, then, to the event that landed her behind bars in the first place, the author keeps Della’s secrets until the end. And while Paloma and Mick, aided by a strong cast of local characters, are investigating the Lee family mystery, we are constantly reminded of the personal decisions facing them when they leave Pueblo Pesar. Readers who enjoy this novel may also like the author’s earlier The Memory of Us (2016).