Aaron's Reviews > Grave Secret

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
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Dec 19, 09


Harper Connelly makes her living by traveling around southern states helping to solve mysteries. She has the ability to not only locate bodies but to get a sense of how the individuals died because she can relive their final moments when she is near the body. She is joined by her stepbrother and manager Tolliver Lang. In this fourth volume in the series, they are going to be confronted with something a little closer to home.

It all starts when they are hired by the Joyce family, a wealthy Texan oil family (think the Ewings from Dallas) to get a better understanding of what killed their grandfather Rich. It is believed that he died from a heart attack after being confronted by a snake, and their is some question as to whether or not the snake was thrown at him or whether he ran across the snake on his own.

As Harper is exploring the cemetery, she comes across the grave of Mariah Parish, a young woman who was Rich's nursemaid in the final months of his life. It was believed that she died of blood poisoning, but Harper gets the impression that she died in childbirth. This leads to a whole bunch of concerns because everyone can't help but wonder if the baby was Rich's child and how that might affect everyone's inheritance.

The Joyce's are less than thrilled with Harper's uncovering of a family controversy and basically dismiss her. This leaves Harper and Tolliver able to visit with their two youngest half-sisters. They both find it important to do so, and this visit will be a special one since it will allow them to tell the girls and Harper's aunt and uncle, who have adopted the girls, that she and Tolliver are getting married. As you can guess, this does not go well with the aunt and uncle.

Tolliver has his own family issues coming to the fore when it is learned that his father Matthew is now out of prison and living with Tolliver's older brother Marc. Matthew and Harper's mother had both had fairly respectable lives until they fell into drugs. Now, Matthew is an ex-con, and Harper's mother has died. Surprisingly, Matthew is also not quite thrilled to hear that his son will be marrying one of his stepdaughters.

The Joycess seem to not stay far from the center of the story, and before long it becomes clear that the the Connelly-Lang families has deeper ties tot he Joyces than anyone expected. The tension will lead to Tolliver getting shot in the shoulder, a detective being shot trying to protect Harper, and a series of revelations that will help reveal what happened to Harper's missing older sister Cameron as well as some other surprising family skeletons.

While Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books have become tremendously popular, particularly since HBO started a show loosely based on the books, I have always felt that Harper and her books are surprisingly overlooked. The mysteries have always been very interesting, and her talent, which she got after being struck by lightening when she was 15, adds and interesting twist.

This volume is not quite a strong, but I think it is because it is so closely tied to Harper and Tolliver's own stories. I tend to prefer my mystery books to present tales in which the mystery is not entwined with the detective. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It was really interesting to finally find out the reality behind a lot of things that have been brewing in Harper and Tolliver's past. The ending felt a little rushed, but that is more because the book is moving a little slower in the earlier portions.

It was also good to have Manfred Bernardo return. Besides adding a bit of humor, he adds his own psychic talents, which he honed while traveling with his psychic grandmother for years before her death in an earlier book. Mandred and Harper definitely seem to be shifting from a younger man with a crush to a friendship/colleague relationship.

This is definitely a good addition to the series.
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