recommendations and reviews for the aspiring reader

recommendations and reviews for the aspiring reader

Recommendation: Grave Sight

Grave Sight

by Charlaine Harris

“Sometimes I dream I am an eagle. I soar above them, noting their remains, bearing testimony to  their disposal. I spy the man who went hunting with his enemy – – there, under that tree, in that thicket. I spot the bones of the waitress who served the wrong man – – there, under the collapsed roof of an old shack. I detect the final destination of the teenage boy who drank too much in the wrong company – – a shallow grave in the piney woods. Often, their spirits hover, clinging to the mortal remnants that housed them. Their spirits do not become angels. They were not believers during life, why should they be angels now? Even average people, people you think of as “good,” can be foolish or venal or jealous. 

My sister Cameron lies somewhere among them. In some drainage pipe or under some foundation folded into the rusted trunk of an abandoned car or strewn across a forest floor, Cameron molders. Perhaps her spirit is clinging to what is left of her body, as she waits to be discovered, as she waits for her story to be told. 

Perhaps that’s all they desire, all of the silent witnesses.”

Harper Connelly is a professional.

Some might say she’s a professional freak.

But no matter what they say, she always gets the job done.

Harper can find dead people. If she’s in the vicinity, she can sniff out a dead person’s place of demise like a bloodhound on a hot trail. She can sense their final moments and help piece together the dreadful puzzles of murder, suicide, or natural caused death for family members and desperate law enforcement officers. What she can’t do is stay in one place for long because as mentioned earlier, more often than not, she is considered a freak of nature. A witch. A devil woman. Someone who is just not normal. It’s almost as if people think it was her fault she was struck by that bolt of lightening.

“His eyes lit up. He was thinking I’d faked my results before, somehow, and that now he’d unmask me. And he’d get his money back. He had about a ton of ambiguity resting on his shoulders. 

I stepped gingerly onto the nearest grave, the ground chilly under my bare feet. Since a cemetery is so fully of death, I have difficulty getting a clear reading. When you add the competing emanations from the corpses to the effects of the embalming process, you have to get as close as you can. “Middle-aged white man, died of. . . a massive coronary,” I said, my eyes closed. The name was Matthews, something like that. 

There was silence while Hollis read the headstone. Then Hollis growled, “Yes.” He caught his breath jaggedly. “We’re going to walk now. Keep your eyes shut.” I felt his big hand take mine, lead me carefully to another patch of ground. I reached down deep with that inner sense that had never failed me. “Very old man.” I shook my head. “I think he just ran down.” I was led to yet another grave, this one father away. “Woman, sixties, car accident. Named Turner, Turnage? A drunk, I think.”  “

The disappearance of her sister, Cameron, haunts her. One mystery and possible murder she cannot put to rest. The one person she cannot find.

Tolliver is her brother, sometimes bodyguard, only confidant, and booking agent in the spectrum of the supernatural. They travel the seemingly endless roads together; wrapped up in mysteries and sometimes  becoming part of the murderous puzzle personally, no matter how much they try to stay out of it.

The tiny town of Sarne has a problem. A teenage girl is missing and no one wants to talk about it. Harper was brought into the backwoods narrow-minded community under false pretenses and it’s glaringly obvious that she isn’t wanted. Not only do they think she is weird, but they find fault in her brother as well – – Tolliver isn’t the warmest cookie in the oven, and it suits him to be stoic and reserved. The townsfolk openly shun the pair and make the job as hard as they possibly can. What secrets is this provincial town hiding? Why don’t they want this murder solved?

“I didn’t exactly feel like all these deaths were my fault, but I didn’t feel good about them, either. I’d done what I’d been hired to do, with no idea what the consequences might be in a confused place like Sarne.”

Harper dives into the job anyway. She’s got some time between gigs and she is being paid. At the bequest of the presumed victim’s mother – a woman with too much time and money on her hands – Harper and Tolliver roll up their sleeves and get to work. Very quickly however, Harper finds herself involved in not one but two murders, and the town is again not at all happy to hear her news. The teenage girl is dead by murder, as is her boyfriend. All under very mysterious circumstances.

Something a little too fast and furious to be called romance is heating up between Harper and the town’s police deputy, but it has to take a backseat as even more strange things begin to happen. Someone is hell bent on sabotaging Harper and Tolliver, and will go to any means necessary to send their message — including it seems, another attempted murder. Harper is distraught when Tolliver is thrown in jail and she is on complete edge. And she has a reason to feel that way.

“Suddenly, from inside the room there was a grip on my upper arm that spun me around, then I was stumbling into the room and meeting with the rug with a speed that was terrifying. 

I rolled to my feet and launched myself at my attacker, pushing him right back out the open door. Never let yourself get cornered. You have to fight instantly, I’d found as a teenager, or your opponent has the upper hand; your injuries hurt too much, or you get scared. And you have to go with it with every fiber of your being. Pull, bite, strike, scratch, squeeze; let go completely. If you’re dedicated to hurting someone else, it doesn’t register so much when they hurt you. I hardly felt the two pounding blows the man got in on my ribs before I grabbed his testicles and clamped down, and then I bit hi on the neck as hard as I could. “

The book revs up to an exciting and climatic ending where the mystery is solved, but more questions about Harper, her brother, and her dead sister Cameron are left the table. This is book one is a series of four, entitled The Harper Connelly Mysteries. I haven’t read the others as of yet, but I have them stacked on my nightstand ready to read. They are quick, fast, and easy reads — which I love for a good rainy weekend. The ending was a bit predictable, but aren’t most mysteries these days? It’s hard to fool your reader when they spend all day watching CSI and How to Get Away With Murder. I was much more intrigued with the characters than the subsequent plot line, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Harper. I hope we get closure on her sister’s disappearance.

Along with much of middle America, I became a fan of Charlaine Harris after the debut of her vampiric-telepathic-werewolvian-fairyesque books – The Sookie Stackhouse Series. It’s a set of 13 novels and several companion pieces set around an awkward Southern blonde who waits tables in the local bar and becomes wrapped up with not one, not two, but a nest of vampires and as slew of other creatures. This book series was transformed into a highly successful television series for HBO called True Blood, starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. It spanned seven seasons and strayed far from the books as each season progressed, much to The Belle’s dismay.

Charlaine Harris writes mostly about the supernatural and their counterparts, and writes them into modern day story lines. Vampires are a part of society, living openly next to mere mortals. Werewolves aren’t stuff of legend, but more like your neighborhood furry friends. Men can transform into animals on a whim. Women can read minds and market their talents to the highest bidder. A lot of her stories are set in the South, and all are a mystery in some way or fashion. She writes in a very relatable style that makes it easy for the reader to become quickly caught up in the story and just as quickly finish it. Her books are not long and can be read over a weekend. The stories flow and move fast.

The other books in the series are as follows:

  1. Grave Sight
  2. Grave Surprise
  3. An Ice Cold Grave
  4. Grave Secret 

There are also three graphic novels set around Grave Sight.  There are currently four films surrounding The Aurora Teagarden Series written by the author, starring Candace Cameron Bure. Aurora is a librarian who meets once a month with The Real Murder Club to discuss unsolved crimes.

I recommend Grave Sight with a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Again, it’s a quick read, a lends itself very well for the reader on the go. You can pick it up and put it down, read chapters at at time or just a few paragraphs and have no trouble picking up where you left off. If you enjoy reading about Harper, keep your fingers crossed that she will make her way to the small screen as several other of this author’s heroines have!

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