Sunday, March 02, 2008

Two Harper Connelly reviews

In case you are wondering why I am doing all these two-in-one reviews (keep an eye out for a three-in-one review soon), it is so that I can convince myself that I am catching up! The bonus is that it does mean that there will be cases where I have posted a review of book 3 in a series for example, when I haven't yet posted about books 1 and/or 2 yet. There have very often been weeks between the first reviewed book and the second!

When she was 15, Harper Connelly was struck by a bolt of lightning. She recovered, mostly...she has a strange spiderweb of red on parts of her body, and her right leg has episodes of weakness. Sometimes her right hand shakes. She has headaches. And she can find dead people.

That was the part that interested anthropology professor Dr Clive Nunley.

The professor invited Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver to Memphis to give a demonstration of Harper's unique talent - and what better place to have that demonstration than in a very old cemetery?

Dr Nunley doesn't bother to hide his scepticism, even when Harper stands atop a grave and senses not one but two bodies, a centuries-dead man, the owner of the grave, and a young girl, recently deceased.

The grave is opened and Harper is proved right: the dead girl is Tabitha Morgernstern, an eleven-year-old abducted from Nashville two years previously. That's bad enough, but worse is to come, for Harper tried - and failed - to find the child when she first went missing. The coincidences are making the police very suspicious, so Harper and Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer starting with a nocturnal visit to the cemetery.

And the next morning a third dead body is found in the grave.
When Harper Connelly and her step brother Tolliver Lang travel to Memphis at the request of local anthropologist Dr Clive Nunley they believe it will be a case of doing the presentation and then moving on. Dr Nunley wants to test Harper's skill by taking her to an old cemetery and asking for her to identify how each of the bodies within the graves died. There is no way that Harper can have any forward information about the bodies in the grave so it should silence the skeptics once and for all. However, when Harper identifies one of the bodies as a young girl who only died recently, the skeptics are delighted at her misstep until she is proved right.

Somewhat disturbingly for Harper, the body is that of a young girl who disappeared a couple of years previously and who Harper failed to find. Soon not only are there skeptical people amongst them, there are also suspicious people, including the Police. Matters aren't helped when Harper has a fight with Dr Nunley and he is then found in the same grave the next day.

The mystery in this book is much tighter than the one in Grave Sight, the first book in the series, and there are plenty of people who could have killed the young girl, Tabitha Morgenstern. There are family secrets galore in the Morgenstern family, and nearly all of the family members are under suspicion at one stage or another.

There are a couple of recurring characters in the form of Xylda and Manfred, who add colour and quirkiness to the narrative. Poor Manfred appears to be destined for heartbreak given his feelings for Harper.

The relationship between Harper and Tolliver is again just on the ugh side of squicky for me. Having read the third book now, I am going to leave it at that, but I will say more about it in the next review.

Hired to find a boy gone missing in Doraville, North Carolina, Harper Connelly and her brother Tolliver head there - only to discover that the boy was only one of several who had disappeared over the previous five years. All of them teenagers. All unlikely runaways.

All calling for Harper.

Harper soon finds them- eight victims, buried in the half-frozen ground, all come to an unspeakable end. Afterwards, what she most wants to do is collect her fee and get out of town ahead of the media storm that's soon to descend. But when she's attacked and prevented from leaving, she reluctantly becomes a part of the investigation as she learns more than she cares to about the dark mysteries and long-hidden secrets of Doraville-knowledge that makes her the next person likely to rest in an ice-cold grave.

So far, this is the best book in the series for me.

Harper and her step-brother Tolliver are hired by a family member of a young boy who has been missing for a couple of years. The previous town sheriff had decided that the six missing boys from the town were all runaways, but the new sheriff is determined to find out exactly what was going on.

Harper is somewhat surprised when she located not one, not six, but eight bodies on a farm just outside town. Soon it is up to Harper to try and figure out what else connects these poor boys, apart from the fact that they appear to have all been killed by the same murderer.

When Harper is attached and left with stitches in her head, and a fractured arm, it is clear that she is getting a little too close for the murderer to remain comfortable, and it is all that Harper and Tolliver can do to just get out of town. Or at least they would if they hadn't been snowed in.

Gradually the pieces all fall into place, but not without some heartbreaking assistance from a young boy, and with some more kooky antics from Manfred and Xylda.

Okay, spoiler territory now. Highlight below to see what I think about Harper and Tolliver's relationship in this book!

Yes, I know. Much is made in this book of the fact that Harper and Tolliver are not really brother and sister. There is no shared blood between them, but I really struggle with their progressing relationship in this book. Whilst they may not share blood...they have lived as brother and sister for years! And yet, there devotion to each other is touching, especially as Tolliver tries valiantly to keep Harper safe. I'm just not sure I was ready to go all the way with them as a couple!

The finale is action packed, and tense and a fitting ending to the story of a lot of young men who died at the hands of a sadistic and predatory killer.


  1. You know, I always wondered how much they lived like brother and sister, and how much they lived more like co-parents, trying to watch out for their younger siblings as best they could. I think they saw themselves as a couple or a team, long before it was emotionally wise.

    Now it could argued that continuing this relationship into adulthood isn't wise either, but sometimes damaged people have trust issues, and they might well only be able to trust each other fully because of their background. I liked the way she handled their relationship progression in book three.

  2. Hi Ann

    You may well be right. I mean, Harper would have to find someone pretty understanding of her particular gift. Tolliver has been there since the beginning and understands and values her!

    Thanks for dropping by!

  3. I am really looking forward to starting this series and the Sookie books too. She is high on my list of alteratives for this year and top for new reads for 2009.

  4. Oh geees! I've been holding out for an Ice Cold Grave to come out in paperback. Maybe it has. But it is SO hard not to read these comments! I stayed strong, but wow, I am so curious about that relationship.

    And I'm so glad you liked this one best. I can't wait.

  5. Drat, another mystery series to add to my TBR list. But this one sounds too good to miss. Thanks for the review.