Harper Connolly Mysteries #3
A review by Steve Cameron
An Ice Cold Grave is a Harper Connolly novel by Charlaine Harris.
Harper and Tolliver are invited to Doraville, North Carolina, to look for a missing boy. It doesn’t take her long to find him – along with seven other boys, all buried in the same location and all victims of a serial killer. Reluctantly the local police are forced to admit Harper isn’t the fraud they believed her to be. Soon Harper is attacked and injured, and with her recovery forcing her to stay in town longer than she’d planned, she starts to learn of Doraville’s dark secrets.
This book actually is darker than the previous two. The manner and motives of the murders are quite different to the previous deaths Harper and Tolliver have encountered. The gory details of the serial killings even reduce Harper to vomiting. And while the plotline of this novel held me more than the previous two, I found the sudden romantic and sexual relationship between the step-siblings not only distracting, but unrealistic and perplexing. A large number of readers have been repelled by the building (almost incestuous) relationship between characters that were raised as brother and sister.
Harris again describes all the background to Harper and Tolliver’s past, their successful lawyer parents that suddenly became drug addicts reducing them to a trailer-trash, bizarro Brady Bunch existence, the ubiquitous accusations of pimping and whoring by townsfolk over the fees charged for Harper’s talents, the disappearance of her sister many years ago, the fractured relationship with the rest of their families, and the strange manner in which Harper received her gift. We got all this in both previous books. And again Harris spends pages describing the mundane, taking showers, eating, sleeping and the like.
I was very close in my guess as to who was responsible for the killings and the motives, but once again there was little in the way of actual clues. There were, however, a cast of characters complete with red herrings that wandered in and through the pages. I can’t help but think that a shorter, stronger book might have emerged with some serious editing.
Still, this is the best of the series so far.
Another quick and easy read for a holiday destination, a long journey, or just a lazy afternoon when you don’t want anything too heavy.
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.