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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2008
This is the third book in the Harper Connelly Mystery series.

For the past several years six boys of a similar age have gone missing in the town of Doraville, North Carolina. The previous Sheriff refused to find anything sinister in or even investigate their disappearances, claiming they were probably runaways or suicides. The new sheriff, who was deputy under the old sheriff, has always thought something was wrong. But she has run out of leads and ideas on how to locate the boys.

Word of Harper Connelly's gift of finding the dead has reached the town and Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver arrive in the hopes of helping. Twyla is the grandmother of one of the missing boys and is willing to try anything at this point. She convinces the sheriff and the other townspeople to hire and give Harper a chance. It isn't long before Harpers gifts are proven and she and Tolliver are at the sight of horrific crimes.

This book is by far the best in the bunch. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, this one blew me away. The mystery is troubling and the set up is tight; I was on the edge of my seat (couch) waiting for the murderer to be caught. There are more than a few frightening and terrifyingly disturbing moments in this book and I found myself more than once holding my breath or gasping in shock.

This is definitely a darker book than I am used to reading from Ms. Harris, but the journey was just as an enjoyable. Harper and Tolliver give it just enough lightness and energy to keep it from being too dark. They have some serious issues that come to head in this book, making me all the more eager to get onto the next. An Ice Cold Grave gave me chills and warmed my heart; an exciting combination!

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1)
Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 2)

Cherise Everhard, January 2008
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VINE VOICEon September 26, 2007
I've been a fan of Harper Connelly and Tolliver Lang since "Grave Secret." To date, Charlaine Harris has not disappointed me. "An Ice Cold Grave" is, in my opinion, the best book of the series. For those of you new to the series, Harper Connelly was struck by lightning at 15. That incident left her with a set of strange illnesses and the ability to find dead bodies and discover their cause of death from reading them. She travels around the country with Tolliver, who was raised as a brother, but is not related by blood working to help find lost people or determine the cause of death.

Doraville, NC--winter's coming. With six missing persons, all of them male and under 20, the grieving townsfolk have nothing to lose when they take up a collection to bring Harper Connelly in to find the young boys.

She finds all six of them pretty quickly at an abandoned property near where one of the boys was lost. All six of the boys from the town are there--as well as two boys missing from other nearby communities. Details Harper gets from reading the remains make her sicker and sadder than any other case she's ever worked--in no small part probably due to her losing her own older sister to an abuductor during high school.

Harper and Tolliver want nothing more than to leave town just as soon as the check for their services is cut. Unfortunately, the Sheriff and the State Bureau of Investigation aren't going to allow that--and an attack on Harper ties them further to the town.

An ice storm is closing in Knott County, NC and a serial killer is on the loose. He's got a particular interest in Harper since she was the one who found his cache of bodies.

"An Ice Cold Grave" is the strongest of Harper Connelly books so far. There's a lot more at stake here--both for the families of the decedents and Harper herself. There's not just implied but actual violence.

In my opinion, this is the best-written of the series. Both Harper and Tolliver have come into their own as characters. We've known them and liked them for a long time, but they now know themselves and what they want as individuals and as a team.

Ms. Harris also does a great job setting the scene. Her writing really does take you there to the NC mountains and a town laid open by grief. She understands this kind of situation and treats it with grace.

The plot kept me reading page after page til the book was done. "An Ice Cold Grave" is a satisfying read that I'd recommend to fans of mysteries, thrillers and paranormal fiction. While you don't have to read "Grave Secret" and "Grave Surprise" to understand this book, it's definitely not a waste of your time to do so.
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VINE VOICEon September 27, 2007
Charlaine Harris has gelled the Harper Connelly Mysteries - The main characters have settled in and have a more three dimensional air about them -
Without giving any spoilers away - Harper and her 'brother' Tolliver are asked to go to Doraville, North Carolina to help find what they presume dead bodies of at least six young men - As they have in the past, they are met with a mix of reactions - Harper can find the dead, and know what caused their deaths. When Harper helps the sheriff of Doraville, she is injured (by the killer?) and has to stay for a while.
This sets Harper up to deal with whoever is doing the murders.
The reader should be aware there is more vivid violence, detailed sex, and language than previous Harper books.
Harris is hitting her stride with this series, and I liked this book better than her latest Sookie Stackhouse book.
Harper is believable and her gift is being fine tuned. What was referred to in previous books comes to a resolution, which in itself, can be a wild predicament.
It is a sound series, and a great book.
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on January 3, 2008
An Ice Cold Grave (2007) is the third fantasy novel in the Harper Connelly series, following Grave Surprise. In the previous volume, Harper interrupts the killer in the midst of another murder and is almost shot. Tolliver overwhelms the murderer. Harper and Tolliver have learned and deduced most to the story and pass it on to the police.

Harper has never encountered a true ghost prior to Josiah Poundstone. She arranges with Xylda Bernardo to lay his spirit. Josiah seems amazed at the thought of seeking peace, but gradually fades away.

In this novel, Harper and Tolliver travel to Doraville, South Carolina, during the ice and snow of January. They have been called in to search for six youths who have become missing during the past five years. The sheriff -- Sandra Rockwell -- had been a deputy who ran against the former sheriff over his mismanagement of this issue. Yet she has not been able to discover any additional leads.

The grandmother of the last missing boy suggested that Harper be used to find the bodies. After checking the police grapevine and getting a positive recommendation from a participant in a former case, Sheriff Rockwell asked for Harper to perform a search. After discussing the case with the sheriff, Harper meets with Twyla Cotton, the woman who is responsible for her involvement in the case.

The sheriff provides a list of the most suspicious locales. Twyla drives Harper and Tolliver around to each site. Harper finds the bodies of eight boys -- including Twyla's grandson -- on the grounds of an abandoned house with a two-car garage off to one side. Harper marks the burial sites with red flags while Twyla calls the police.

The police discover decayed bodies at each site and contact the State Bureau of Investigation to report the find. SBI agents and technicians come to Doraville to verify the identities and to gather any available evidence about the murderer. Harper is prepared to leave town when she is attacked outside the motel.

In this story, Harper meets with the usual skepticism and hints of fraudulent practices. The existence of the bodies, however, proves to be irrefutable evidence of the crime and, despite their suspicions, the police cannot prove any criminal involvement by Harper. Naturally, some police -- particularly the SBI agents -- still suspect Harper of nefarious wrongdoing.

Harper becomes more involved in this situation than in her previous cases. She gets to know some of the people involved and starts to like several of the individuals. Unlike previous cases, nobody -- other than the SBI agents -- tends to blame Harper for the killings and few are upset by the arcane natural of her talent.

This story also has Harper becoming more troubled by her relationship with Tolliver. She is beginning to feel attracted toward him. While he is her stepbrother, they are otherwise unrelated and that is becoming rather important to her.

Highly recommended for Harris fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of unusual talents, forensic psychology and helpful neighbors. If anyone has not previously read this series, the initial volume is Grave Sight.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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on October 4, 2007
An Ice Cold Grave continues the trend of the well-written Harper Connolly series (Grave Sight and Grave Surprise). I read this in one sitting and agree with the other reviewers that this book is the best of the three so far. Not only does Ms Harris describe the wintry climate in such a way as to make you actually feel you're right there in the freezing temperatures with Harper and Tolliver and the rest of the inhabitants of Doraville, NC, but you can feel the tension among them as well.

An Ice Cold Grave is definitely darker than the first 2 books in the sense that there are more violence, more bodies, and more graphic descriptions of what happened to the victims. After all, Harper's talent is to find dead bodies, by nature a dark skill, regardless of whether the deaths are natural or not. On the other hand, Harper and Tolliver's personal and business relationship grows apace, and they each come to terms with what it is they want. {My hope is that this series doesn't follow Ms Harris's other two (ie, The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series, Lily Bard/Shakespeare series), as well as a number of other paranomal/urban fantasy series, in that the "heroine" loves and then leaves or is left by the "hero(s)." There seems to be a trend of such women finding and losing one's lover (sometimes many lovers throughout a series) recently. I can think of 6 series offhand that have done this.}

Another nice thing about An Ice Cold Grave is that, for once, Harper and Tolliver aren't treated with suspicion by every person they meet. Sure, there's skepticism, but at least most of those they come in contact with aren't outright hostile, leading to a wearying tango and tangle with such individuals.

We also meet Xylda and Manfred Berdardo again, and both are colorful as always, but they're also sympathetic and poignant characters here. I can't wait to see what becomes of Bernardo and his psychic skills. Will he be a small talent, as he seems to believe, or as great as or better than his grandmother? And how will his path cross that of Harper and Tolliver in future?

I strongly recommend An Ice Cold Grave -- which can be read as a standalone but would enhance a reader's experience if read in sequence. The book consists of a taut story line, mystery, love, grief, betrayal, and pathos, but in the end, there's hope and compassion.
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on November 2, 2007
I hate taking the time to write reviews BUT this book deserves one. It was the best in the series so far. I love that Harris didn't string us along endlessly with Harper & Tolliver's relationship. That really gets frustrating for me as a reader. In my opinion, the advancement of their relationship made their characters more vivid for me. In addition, the sex scenes were done perfectly. This story line really wouldn't work for me if the sex was "hidden" and left vague. Harper's 1st person narration has allowed us into the majority of her thoughts and feelings, censoring the sex scenes would have implied shame on her part.

Yes, this book was more graphic, but it wasn't gratuitous. In fact, I know that I enjoyed this book more than the others BECAUSE of the details. I hope that Harris continues writing this series with this level of detail. This style really seems to suit her. This book contains her best writing by far.
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VINE VOICEon December 14, 2007
I enjoyed the first two books about Harper Connelly Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1) and Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 2), and I think that both the second and the third books are stronger than its predecessor.

That said, this book might not be for everyone. The book involves the serial killings of teenaged boys, all of whom are tortured and raped. What happens to these poor kids is absolutely horrifying, as are the descriptions of the crimes.

The language in the book is stronger than the two previous, and I can see why the author did this, as the crimes are so terrible. I can see how and why the characters discussing the crimes can curse over them.

As always with the books of Charlaine Harris, the characters are well written and developed, and the setting is very well done. The sheer horror of the crimes combined with a small southern mountain town in the winter, all iced in, makes for one creepy place.

One other thing that might bother some readers is that the relationship between Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver goes right where it looked like it might right from the first book. Now, I do not view this as incest, as there is no blood relationship between them, and when younger they were the defacto heads of their family, raising the younger children when their parents were not functioning. They both dream of sharing a home together and having those younger kids back. This step was logical to me, given the contents of the two previous books. But I can also see how this could bother some readers, who could think that such a relationship between step sibs is completely improper.

So I guess in short - while I personally loved this book, I can see how other people could have issues with it. If you are someone who might be bothered by the horrific crimes or the relationship between the stepsibs, you might want to check it out from the library rather than purchasing.
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on October 2, 2007
I love this series. In fact, there are times when I love this series more than the Sookie Stackhouse books also written by Charlaine Harris. This is just creepy enough to be interesting and human enough to drag you into the lives of Harper and her not so brotherly companion, Tolliver.
This book is especially good as it shows the progression of their relationship and a more horrific job than anything Harper has done before. It really shows how strong Harper is and how useful her skill is. They're real people with not so pretty lives who plug on just like the rest of us.
Charlaine Harris is an amazing writer. She is a writer whose words you don't find yourself skimming as one does with books that aren't as well written. She is probably one of my favorite authors because of this. I'd probably enjoy reading ad copy if she was the one writing it!
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on September 26, 2007
Harper and Tolliver are building a rep inside the law enforcement community and with it new and harder jobs come their way. Looking for missing boys Harper tumbles on the dump site of a serial killer. The killer resents an outsider spoiling his fun so Harper and Tolliver must unmask the killer before Harper will be safe. A great murder mystery with just a little paranormal thrown in. My only complaint is the legnth, I wanted more.
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on November 10, 2007
Charlaine Harris' use of the cold of winter, as brought out by the title, is very effective in setting the nature of the crimes brought to light by Harper Connolly's lightning-bestowed talent for finding corpses in this book. The horror of what was done to the boys is chilling and is meant to be chilling. The attitudes of some of the local law enforcement establishment, past and present, are also chilling and, I believe, meant to be seen that way by the reader.

Equally, the season is used effectively, in a contrary direction, as an impetus to move forward the relationship between Harper and Tolliver -- who is not, as he points out at a critical moment, her brother. There has been plenty of background on this: their parents married when they were both in their teens. They are not consanguineous kin. It's actually somewhat odd that some readers perceive their relationship as incest, given how carefully Harris built it up through the first two books and the first half of this one.

Overall, this series has shown much more depth than the author's popular Sookie Stackhouse series. I hope that Harris produces other books in the future that become more than just an evening's entertainment.
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