I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of Charlaine Harris. I really like her True Blood series, because I find Sookie Stackhouse to be a really nice person, and the plots are fun, adventurous, sexy… But that said, I also like Harris’s writing style. It’s down to earth. She paces her novels well, and her main characters are usually strong, interesting women with a past.
And Harper Connelly fits this bill well. She’s a woman in her mid-twenties who was struck by lightening and can now find the bodies of the dead and see their last few moments of life, essentially how they died but not who killed them. She travels with her manager, Tolliver, who she refers to as her brother, though they’re actually not blood related, and who is her best friend and security blanket. There are four books in the series, and they revolve around Harper’s job helping the clients find the bodies or cause of deaths of their loved ones, and being unhappily drawn into solving crimes and mysteries. The books are Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave and Grave Secret.
Harper and Tolliver only lived in the same trailer when they were teenagers, when their parents got together. Both of their parents were lawyers who represented bad clients, ended up partying with their clients and became drug addicts, meaning a fall from a normal or well-off lifestyle into living in a trailer and scratching meals together. The children of the family pulled together to help each other out, keeping the younger siblings fed and in school until the strange disappearance of their elder sister meant social services got involved and they were split up into foster care. (That’s not a spoiler, it’s mentioned early on in the first book)
There’s a real darkness to this series, which I enjoyed. With their sad pasts, there’s a lot of stories and memories that come up, and issues around family to resolve. And as they’re also dealing with missing persons and crimes surrounding their deaths, there’s some really sad and violent stories there too, particularly in An Ice Cold Grave, in which a serial killer targets young boys. But Harris always keeps it just the right amount of dark, never spilling over into shock tactics or describing gruesome details too much.
I also really like the way that though the focus of the stories is on death, there’s a certain positivity to the books, with Harper growing and finding her confidence, the action and mystery in the books, the pacing of the plot, and also some romance and sex. I also liked that I didn’t guess the killer in any of the books either. I also liked the way Harper’s ability was handled. She’s not a psychic, she has an ability, and the way it works is interesting.
I really had fun reading these, I think if you like crime stories or supernatural romance you’ll like them too.
Read It If: you liked Sookie Stackhouse, or you like your crime stories with a bit of difference and a strong female lead.