I adore Charlaine Harris’ quirky writing, and Harper Connelly is about as quirky as they come. You’re probably never going to come across another book where, thanks to being struck by lightning, the protagonist can find dead bodies. And you’re unlikely to find another author who can make such a ridiculous idea work. Harris is best known for her Sookie Stackhouse series, and Harper isn’t as popular or as loved, but I think she’s fantastic.
Harris’ speciality is in grounding her paranormal stories in mundane, day to day life. People work minimum wage jobs, do their housework, save for renovations, look like regular people. Harper is just an average young woman – apart from the fact she still has health problems connected to the lightning strike. Her ‘brother’ (who’s actually a stepbrother she didn’t know until her teens) is an average guy with physical flaws. The two of them are doing the best they can after their unhappy, poor upbringing forced them to grow up too early and see too much. They’re quietly saving the world, one corpse at a time.
I really like the paranormal aspect of this one, but it does not rule the story. Grave Sight isn’t anywhere near as grounded in the supernatural as the Sookie series. This is small town Arkansas, with one woman who sees, hears and knows things other people never will. The insanity comes from the ‘regular’ people, and one of my favourite things about the author’s books is that she can take a regular situation and make it explode. One minute everything’s fine, and the next the town’s most upstanding citizen has turned into a murdering maniac.
This series is somewhat controversial – and becomes more so in later books – with Harper and Tolliver’s unconventional relationship. They are not blood relations and did not live through their childhoods together. In this first book there is no romantic relationship between them, and it’s the way they have always worked together and depend on each other that was so interesting. Men and women come and go out of their lives, but their loyalty is first and foremost to each other. Harris is able to convey the strength of their connection with just a few words, by showing a few small actions, and it has a powerful effect.
I’ve read and liked many of Charlaine Harris’ mysteries – both real-world and paranormal. The concept of a woman who can find dead bodies is interesting, but the strongest aspect of this book for me was the connection and unswerving loyalty between the lead characters.
This was a very good start to the series. Charlaine Harris’ writing is – as always – witty, quirky and heartfelt. Harper is a wonderful protagonist and the secondary characters were extremely well-written. Recommended both for fans of cosy mysteries and paranormal stories.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
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