Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Grave Surprise" by Charlaine Harris

I'm happy to say the second book in the Harper Connelly series is great! "Grave Sight" was the first entry, and while I liked it overall, I thought that Ms. Harris was trying a little too hard to ensure that Harper did not sound like her other paranormal heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, of the Southern Vampire series. (I highly recommend the Sookie books!)

Harper isn't really that unusual a girl, other than the fact that she survived being struck by lightening when she was 16. Oh, and the fact that she can now locate dead bodies by listening for them. Seems the lightening strike didn't leave her entirely normal after all....................

Harper has come to terms with her gift and has been using it to solve crimes, although she would prefer not to be involved in police matters. Her step-brother, Tolliver Lang, assists her and provides moral support, as well. They travel across the country trying to help families locate their loved ones who might have been victims of foul play.

Enter the Morgensterns, who hired Harper to locate their missing daughter two years ago. While showing a college class what she does for a living, Harper comes across the body of Tabitha Morgenstern. It has been buried on top of another grave. Matters take an even darker turn when the professor who hired Harper for her demonstration ends up dead in the same grave. That makes a total of 3 bodies in one grave, and it turns out later on, the original buried body isn't all that happy about it.

The book is basically about Harper and Tolliver trying to help uncover who killed Tabitha, and why her body was found where it was. There are plenty of suspects, a few red herrings, and a nice subplot involving Harper and her step-brother, one that was alluded to in the first book and made more clear in this entry. The biggest enjoyment in reading this was the evolvement of Harper - she no longer sounds so stilted. Ms. Harris must have relaxed this time around and not worried so much about Harper sounding like a pale imitation of Sookie, and it works. Harper seems to have found her voice, and I like it! I love the relationship between Harper and Tolliver; these two have been through a lot and could really be damaged goods, were they not as strong as they are (there's a blended family, drug use by their parents, Social Services, etc in their past - all the trappings of a Jerry Springer episode!).

It would help to read "Grave Sight" first, as it gives quite a bit of the background of Harper and Tolliver. But I think you could read "Grave Surprise" just fine on its own, and that might be a good thing - it's a much better book!

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