Review of GRAVE SECRET by Charlaine Harris (see her website)
HARPER CONNOLY BOOK 4
Berkley, October 2009
Harper Connoly's talent of hearing the voices of human remains is unusual--and a lot of people think she's a fraud. So, it's no surprise when her latest clients take her to a graveyard and ask her to hunt around for their missing grandfather. But when Harper comes across a woman who died in childbirth when everyone else knows it was infection, and when she explains that the grandfather's heart attack was inspired by someone throwing a rattlesnake at him, she stirs up some serious troubles. Which is okay with Harper. She simply reports what the corpses say. What isn't okay is that she's continually frustrated in her efforts to maintain family relations with her two younger sisters and now her step-brother/lover, Tolliver, is suggesting that they give it up and create some distance.
Tolliver is having family problems of his own. His father is now out of prison and seems intent on making amends--something both Tolliver an Harper suspect. Tolliver's older brother, Mark, has no suspicions at all. He's welcomed his father back and is doing everything he can to make Tolliver do the same. When an anonymous caller reports seeing Harper's long-vanished sister in a shopping mall, the entire dysfunctional family seems to have come full-circle. Except Connoly is certain her sister is dead. There's no way Cameron would have left her family without a word...and not gotten back in touch after their parents were jailed.
Author Charlaine Harris (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of contemporary fantasy by Harris) wraps up a phase in Harper's life, and gives us a look at two dysfunctional families--Harper's and that of her client. Harper, with her lightning-struck talent, her obsession with making her relationship with her sisters work, and with her combination of confidence and self-doubt makes an interesting character. Secondary character Manfred may be worth a novel of his own as he wrestles with his psychic talents and his crush on Harper. Those looking for stories of reformed addicts and happy endings would do better to look elsewhere, but Harper, at least, seems in a position to move on with her life. Harris's writing engages the reader and makes us care about Harper.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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