Saturday, November 04, 2006

Grave Surprise - Charlaine Harris

Grave Surprise
Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime

Paranormal Mystery

Harper Connelly is used to disbelief when it comes to her unique ability. Thanks to being hit by lightning at the age of 15, she’s capable of detecting dead bodies. Of course, there are plenty of people who think she’s performing parlor tricks and scamming desperate families. One such person is Professor Clyde Nunley. As a sort of test, he invites her to come to Memphis and perform in a controlled experiment.

Dr. Nunley’s field of battle turns out to be an old graveyard. Not a tough place to find dead bodies. But Harper can also get a sense of how long the person has been dead, something of the manner of that death, and sometimes a name. Standing on a grave, she startles everyone by announcing that there are two bodies buried there. One, dead several centuries, belongs there. The other body belongs to young Tabitha Morgenstern. Harper knows the name; she was called in on the search when the child disappeared two years ago in Nashville. The fact that Harper knows this body is a bit too much of a coincidence for the police, particularly when Nunley is found dead. Once again, Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver need to solve the case to keep themselves out of jail.

This is the second in the new series by the writer of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. There are plenty of secondary characters here that move in and out of Harper’s base of operations. The family of the dead girl, the police, Nunley, the FBI, all take part in the story. In this case, readers get a more complete picture of Harper’s and Tolliver’s family and past; and also fleshes out the very complex relationship between the stepsiblings. The plotting and pacing is more sure in this second outing, making it just a cut better than the first. This is a nice way to beat the infamous sophomore slump! I’m looking forward to more in this series.

Rating: 8
October 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21203-3 (hardcover)


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