Friday, May 18, 2007

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

I have what you might call a strange job: I find dead people. I can sense the final location of a person who's passed, and share their very last moment. The way I see it, I'm providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living - but I'm used to most people treating me like a blood-sucking leech. I couldn't do it alone - that's why my step-brother Tolliver travels with me, as my manager and, sometimes, bodyguard. It's an unpredictable work schedule: we live out of hotels, ready to hit the road at any time. Because for the living it's always urgent - even if the dead can wait forever...

Harper and Tolliver and experts at getting in, getting paid, and then getting out of town fast - because the people who hire Harper have a funny habit of not really wanting to know what she has to tell them. At first, the little Ozarks town of Sarne seems like no exception. A teenage girl has gone missing, and Harper knows almost immediately that this girl is dead. But the secrets of her death - and the secrets of the town - are deep enough that even Harper's special ability can't uncover them. With hostility welling up all around them, she and Tolliver would like nothing better than to be on their way. But then another woman is murdered. And the killer's not finished yet.....

This is the first book in the Harper Connelly series of books which feature a woman who can locate bodies of dead people and can tell how they died. She only gained this ability after she was struck by lightening when she was a teenager. Now, she is a freelancer - if you want to find a body, give her a call, and if you are prepared to pay, then she will find the body for you. Part of the problem is though that whilst people SAY that they want you to find the body, that isn't necessarily really the case.

Travelling with Harper across the country, providing both a management style service and bodyguard service, is her step brother Tolly. When they arrive in the small town of Sarne, the intention is to find the body, finish the job, and get out of there as soon as possible. But when the answer that Harper gives is not quite the answer that people wanted to hear, then things start getting messy for Harper and Tolly as they begin to realise that there are many levels of complexity in the relationships between many of the town's people. Harper is at least pleased to give some peace to a couple of people, including the mother of the dead girl.

Pleased to be finally out of town, they find themselves having to go back when the mother is also killed, and now they are suspects. With some allies within the local police, but more enemies, Harper and Tolly need to figure out who did it and why before they find themselves in jail, or worse still...dead!

Harper's condition certainly is an interesting starting point for a murder mystery, and I am sure that there is plenty of scope for interesting mysteries in the future.

I did find the relationship between Harper and Tolly somewhat unusual. Whilst they were both intimate with others, there was almost a sense of possessiveness or perhaps it is an undertone of unfulfilled sexual desire between them that, depending on how things are handled in future books, could be a bit squicky, but having now read quite a few books by Harris, I am sure that she can be trusted not to go anywhere too disturbing!

Overall, this is an okay start to the series, with a lot of promise for future books. I have already heard from a few places that the second book in the series is now I just have to wait for it to come in at the library.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. I’ve had this book in my TBR pile since it first came out; back when I was really into the Sookie Stackhouse series and wanted to read more by Charlaine Harris. I keep saying I’m going to read it one day soon, but now the premise doesn’t really interest me. Go figure. Maybe because I’m reading When Lightening Strikes by Meg Cabot and it’s got the same premise—a teenager is struck by lightening and given the power to locate the missing. Who says all original ideas are dead? :-P

  2. Hey Marg :D Similarly to DC, I also have this book in my TBR pile and it's been there for awhile... however, I really don't know why I bought it, since I'm not even a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series :D Are you planning to read book 2 soon? If so, then, perhaps I'll wait till you do to read it :P

  3. I wasn't particularly inspired to read it originally either, but I borrowed it and it was getting close to the time when I had to take it back!

    Nath, in relation to the second book, the library has had it on order for ages, so as soon as they get it I will borrow it and see if it really is better than the first book! In the meantime, I just picked up All Together Dead yesterday so I will move onto that one soon!

  4. Add me to the list of people who has had the book for awhile, but still have not read it. But then, I can say that about most of the books in my TBR collection, can't I? I am looking forward to reading the first of Charlaine Harris' Shakespeare mystery series shortly. I really liked her Southern Vampire series and so thought I would probably like the Gravesight book. Someday I'll get around to it. :-)

  5. To think the premise sounded really good.

  6. I just read the second book--Grave Surprise. (I skipped the first one, I don't know why.) I enjoyed it, but it didn't particularly grab me. Like you say, the relationship between Harper and Tolliver is quite odd. Not blood relations, but they grew up together... I won't give anything away but it is still very much an issue in the second book. :)

  7. I'm glad I am not the only one who thought the relationship was a bit odd!