Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connolly Mysteries #2

A review by Steve Cameron

Grave Surprise is a Harper Connolly novel by Charlaine Harris.

Harper and Tolliver travel to Memphis where a university has invited Harper to demonstrate her abilities. Once there, Harper walks through an old cemetery for which the records have only recently been located, making this the perfect test in the eyes of Dr. Clive Nunley, the sceptical professor. But when she discovers the body of Tabitha Morgenstern, a 12 year old girl in the grave of a man who died in the 19th century, all hell breaks loose. Especially as this body belongs to a missing girl from Nashville that Harper was paid to try and locate eighteen months previous. And then another body appears in the same grave the following day. Was she really invited to Memphis for her talent to be examined, or simply so she could find this body? Is someone trying to set Harper up? Harper and Tolliver are both suspects, and as such must find the real killer quickly.

The events in this book follow on directly after Grave Sight, and as such seemed far too similar and repetitive. Harris spends pages and pages re-describing the backgrounds of the characters and reminding us how hated they are by locals because of how they make their living. Since these books are meant to be read in order, and don’t really work as stand-alone novels, this was rather redundant. Even the plotline was extremely similar to the first, and once more I determined ‘whodunnit’ very early in the book. Again I had to resist the urge to start skimming rather than reading.

While I find the basic premise of the books quite interesting, I would like to have seen the characters and situations more developed. Characters parade in and out at opportune rather than realistic moments, and seem lacking in depth. Grave Surprise, much like Grave Sight, was littered with red herrings. And perhaps it’s simply my time spent working as a police officer many years ago, but I found them a little obvious.

Not a bad read, but not enough paranormal activity for lovers of this genre. Another in the Harper Connolly series that is sure to please the fans of Charlaine Harris.

 

This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.