Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Ice Cold Grave - Charlaine Harris

An Ice Cold Grave
Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime


The end of January is not the best time to visit the Carolinas if you’re there for the scenery. Harper Connelly and her sort-of-stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, are not there for the scenery, exactly. In the small town of Doraville, six teenaged boys have disappeared over the space of five years. There’s no connection between them, they weren’t thought to be suicides or runaways. They simply vanished. The grandmother of one of the boys raised the money to hire Harper, and cleared it with the sheriff. Harper is there to locate the missing boys.

Harper has a unique ability. Since being struck by lightning at the age of fifteen, she’s been able to sense the presence of dead bodies. Not everyone believes her; many think she’s a scam artist. But no one can argue with her success rate. Retracing the steps of the last missing boy, Harper finds an abandoned house on a back road. Buried in the yard around the house are corpses. Not six; eight. There’s a serial killer loose, and, given the burial location, it’s obviously someone local. As the remains are being exhumed, Harper and Tolliver decide to change hotels to avoid the media. While Harper is loading the car, someone attacks her, nearly breaking her arm and giving her a concussion. Obviously, the killer is very close.

This is the third in an ongoing series, (following GRAVE SIGHT and GRAVE SURPRISE) and in many ways, this one is the most tightly plotted so far. Harper is an interesting character; repelled by her own ability, unable to turn it off, and more or less forced to make a living using it. She’s ambivalent about what she does, but generally takes the view that she’s helping loved ones gain closure, and, sometimes, making sure a crime is brought to light. The plot is quick-paced and original. If you like your mysteries spiced with a good dose of the paranormal, you won’t want to miss this one.

Rating: 7 ½
October 2007ISBN# 978-0-425-41729-0 (hardcover)


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