Harper Connolly Mysteries #1
Review by Steve Cameron
Grave Sight is a Harper Connolly novel by Charlaine Harris: Harper can find dead people. Having been struck by lightning as a teenager, she now feels a ‘hum’ when in the proximity of someone deceased. The closer she gets, and the more recent the passing, the louder the ‘hum’. And then she is able to declare the corpse’s name and the cause of death, whether natural or not. Which makes life difficult for her around cemeteries. Travelling with her stepbrother, Tolliver, she is employed by various people, and occasionally police agencies, to locate missing people that are presumed dead.
In the first of these novels (the ‘Grave’ series appears to be a quartet), Harper is looking for a missing teenage girl in a small country town in Arkansas. With the talent she possesses, much of the town mistrusts her and the local police aren’t fans either. Finding the body of the missing girl is easy, but that’s where the real intrigue begins. Tolliver is arrested on trumped-up charges and Harper’s life is threatened.
I found the paranormal element, locating dead people, more convenient than effective, as Harper can tell us the manner of death but not who committed the murder. Had Harper simply been a forensics expert who accidentally discovered bodies, little within the story would have changed. And once she’s found the body, that’s the end of that skill. Although the police don’t believe in her abilities, they make her stay in town where not much happens until the end where the murderer seems to confess for no real reason at all. Looking back, I was unable to see much in the way of clues allowing the reader to determine the guilty party. There were a few red herrings, but these seemed to be based more on a character’s manner rather than any kind of motive. Despite this I was able to determine who the killer was fairly early on.
The edition I have here is a reprint, under the Gollancz Romancz (paranormal romance) imprint. I found this a rather curious publishing decision, as the paranormal elements are tenuous and the only romance is a thinly hidden lust between the step-siblings and a few barely described casual encounters with the locals.
Harris devotes a great deal of time describing people’s clothing, their hotel rooms and the food ordered from room service. Pages and pages that I had to resist skimming rather than reading. As a fan of True Blood, I must admit I was rather excited to receive this series to review. I haven’t read any of the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I’ve been promised by a friend that the Harper Connolly books are darker. I’m sure fans of Charlaine Harris will love this series. Personally I found Grave Sight a little lightweight. I much prefer my paranormal reading to be more paranormal.
A light read that is perfect for a flight or lying on the beach over the summer months.
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.