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Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Author: Charlaine Harris
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence3, Sensuality2 (books 1–2), Sensuality3 (books 3–4), Humor2
Publisher and Titles:  Berkley
      Grave Sight (2006)
      Grave Surprise (2007)
      An Ice Cold Grave (2008)
      Grave Secret (2009)  

      If you've read Harris's SOUTHERN VAMPIRE MYSTERY series (aka SOOKIE STACKHOUSE, aka TRUE BLOOD), you're in for a totally different experience with this series—no vampires, no werewolves, just a fascinating psychic with a tragic history. If you haven't read the series, you'll have the advantage of reading all of the books in direct sequence—no waiting for the next one to be published. I highly recommend that you read these in chronological order as listed above.

     One of Harper's psychic friendsManfred Bernardomoves over to Harris' MIDNIGHT, TEXAS series. After his grandmother's death, Manfred moves to a tiny Texas town populated by a handful of interesting people with deep, supernatural secrets. 

     Click HERE to read my reviews of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE novels.

            SERIES SYNOPSIS            
     Harper’s paranormal gift—or curse—is her ability to locate dead people and to communicate with their spirits. This ability began after she was struck by lightning when she was a teenager. Harper and Tolliver grew up in a broken family: drug-dealing and drug-using parents each of whom had two children by previous marriages and then two children together—six children total. They lived in a decrepit trailor in Texarkana until Harper's older sister Carmen disappeared. After that, police and social workers got involved and the children were divided among foster homes. 

     Now, Harper and her beloved stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, have established a consultant business, hiring out Harper’s services to law enforcement agencies across the country. Adventures ensue, because there is always someone who doesn’t want the body found. In each book, Harper is hired to find a dead body or bodies, generally murder victims. 

     In Grave Sight, the duo heads to small-town Arkansas to locate the body of a missing teenager and then runs into difficulties that result in death threats to Harper and jail for Tolliver.

     In Grave Surprise, Harper and Tolliver travel to Memphis, where a skeptical professor challenges Harper to identify the corpses in a newly documented cemetery. Harper identifies the body of a young girl that is buried in the wrong grave, and that girl turns out to be the same one that Harper failed to locate in a case two years ago. Harper and Tolliver immediately become suspects in the murder.
       In An Ice Cold Grave, the two travel to South Carolina to investigate the disappearance of several teenage boys. Soon after Harper finds the bodies, a mysterious person attacks her and injures her severely. Harper and Tolliver stay in town so that she can recover, and they get pulled in to the murder

     Grave Secret may be the last book in this series because the story provides the answers to the old family tragedies that have plagued Harper and Tolliver throughout the series. Harper and Tolliver head back to Texas where we finally meet Tolliver's father and brother and learn the truth about two of their sisters.

     Two interesting supporting characters in the series are the elderly psychic Xylda Bernardo and her doting grandson, Manfred. Manfred is an eccentric, flamboyant character and a gifted psychic who can get a reading about someone by touching items belonging to him or her. Manfred has a huge crush on Harper, so his presence also adds a bit of drama.investigation. 

     Throughout most of the first three books, the sensuality level is 2 (simmering sexual tension, but no action), but it heats up slightly to 3 by the end of book 2 when the relationship between Harper and Tolliver makes a huge leap.

     I like Harper as a heroine. She is making the most of an unwanted gift by providing victims' families with closure at the expense of her own health. Each time she discovers and communicates with a spirit, her strength is drained and she must live with that person's horrible memories of his or her death. Harper's relationship with Tolliver is extremely complex. In the early books, they try to maintain a sister-brother relationship and use a variety of casual one-night stands with various partners to stave off the growing attraction between them. In the later books, the two solidify their bond and face the future together.

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