Charlaine Harris is a gifted writer, plain and simple. Her Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels have kept me well entertained, while my wife enjoys Harris's more straightforward mysteries. Now, this talented imagination has conjured up a new kind of heroine who straddles the line between mystery and contemporary fantasy: Harper Connelly.
Harper is no action hero. She's not a brilliant detective or slayer of evil. She has no supernatural origins, nor does she have a relationship with any kind of undead creature. No, Harper's world is largely mundane, with one major difference. Ever since she was struck by lightning, she's been afraid of thunderstorms, she is weak in one leg ... and she can sense the location and final moments of the dead. That makes her a valuable commodity to those seeking answers, closure for a loss or the location of a missing (presumed dead) loved one. It also makes her somewhat unclean in the eyes of many, a ghoul who makes her living off the dead and, quite often, supplies answers no one is eager to hear. Still, she travels with her stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, and does what good she can -- for a profit -- without getting too involved in the lives (or deaths) of those she encounters.
But then she and Tolliver roll into Sarne, a small town in the Arkansas Ozarks with a few big secrets. The job seems easy at first, just find a missing teenage girl. But answers to one disappearance lead to further questions about other deaths, and soon the siblings are wrapped up in a criminal case that could cost Harper her professional reputation -- or even her life.
Harper is a darker protagonist than Sookie, and the tone of the book is more serious; there is humor, but it's painted with a much lighter brush. Also, while Harper's "power" is certainly fantastic, the novel otherwise is entirely grounded in reality. The characters, major and minor, seem so damn real, it's hard to believe they were just invented for this book.
by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor
on November 21, 2005
What a great new series from Charlaine Harris! I can barely wait until the next installment.
Heroine Harper Connelly can find dead people. She's kind of an energy sensing cadaver dog of a medium: able to feel the vibrations of the dead and discern how they died. In some ways Harper is reminiscent of Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake: she uses her paranormal skills in both private enterprise, and as part of police forensic investigations. And,like Anita, most of the time the people doing the hiring don't really like to hear what Harper has to tell them.
Harper is assisted and protected by her stepbrother Tolliver. The relationship between these two is complex, to say the least, and it will be wonderful to watch them develop in coming volumes. Harris writes skillfully yet playfully, and develops her characters in a strong, appealing fashion. All of the groundwork for a fantastic series is beautifully established here in Grave Sight.
In this first installment, Harper and Tolliver travel to the Ozarks to find a missing teenaged girl, presumed dead. They find her body deep in a wood, and plunge even deeper into small town intrigue, deception, secrecy, and murder. With conservative bigotry welling up around them, can Harper and Tolliver get away with their lives? Well, of course they can: there are many more books ahead, and I suspect we shall all of us buy them up like hotcakes. This new character is a winner.
on October 10, 2005
i pre-ordered this title because it was by charlaine harris. i expected a new volume in her roe teagarden series.
i'm definitely not disappointed that it's the start of a new series. i enjoy her southern vampire series also. this book, however, is darker in tone and outlook than the others i've enjoyed(haven't read the shakespeare series yet).
the main characters, harper and her brother, are interesting and well-drawn. the results of the family background are realistic. i can't agree with the comment that there is any sexual tension between the two.
the experienced mystery reader will probably figure out who-dun-it fairly easily, but that doesn't detract all that much from the book.
the least appealing part of the story was the townspeople. those involved with the mystery were almost completely unsympathetic. realistic, yes. but i can encounter enough unpleasant, selfish and repellent people going to the grocery store to want to spend my reading time with so many of them--not to mention that i try to control my impulse to complete cynicism when possible.
i will definitely read the next book in this series. i have faith in harris. i just hope her next book is another sukey stackhouse.
on April 28, 2007
Harper Connelly has many problems that she needs to deal with on a day to day basis but is a big believer in that when the world hands you lemons, you make yourself some lemonade. Harper and her step-brother Tolliver earn their living from Harper's ability to seek the dead, a "gift" she received as a result of being struck by lightning when she was young. It may not please everyone that the two profit from death as such, but Harper knows that the newly bereaved aren't always in the right place to be appreciative of her services. Drawn to where the dead lay, and receiving mental images of what brought them to their death is the limit of what Harper provides for her fee. It is never her wish to be drawn into what comes after, but on this latest job, it's unavoidable.
The small community of Sarne in the Ozarks had accepted that one of the town's finest sons committed suicide out in the wilderness but there was still the question as to what became of his girlfriend, supposedly in his company that day. Harper locates the body of the missing girl and delivers to the disbelieving family the news that both Dell Teague and Teenie Hopkins were murdered. Sarne's small-minded sheriff and suspicious townsfolk turn on Harper and Tolliver, something they are sadly used to but not to this extent. There is hate and there is pain in all the relationships the two come across in this town, and they are sure that most of the hostility being shown to them emanates from the direction of whoever killed them. Dell and Teenie's killers still walk amongst their families and friends, a fact not lost on anyone involved.
Harris has written an edgy little novel with numerous undercurrents running through that unsettle and have the reader rising more than a few questions of their own. No great pains have been taken with creating a plot of any intricacy but there is value in the strength of the stifling, flat-eyed air of menace that pervades throughout the whole read. It's easy to visualize the whole town and walls closing in on the two interlopers, who stand out in a crowd for other reasons than Harper's psychic connections to the dead.
The narrative here is terse and unfriendly which suits perfectly both the characters and the oily facade of prosperity and normality that the town of Sarne, Arkansas is trying so desperately to project. There isn't much to like in Harper's character, and her relationship with her step-brother doesn't sit comfortably either. Harper does however come across as talented and damaged (always interesting); always keeping something of her true self in check, even given that this novel has been written in the first-person narrative. As common with a series read and a first entry at that, there are the threads of possible future plot lines in GRAVE SIGHT to compel the reader to seek out the next book.
Author Charlaine Harris has written two other novels in the Harper Connelly series: GRAVE SIGHT (2005) and ICE COLD GRAVE (due for release September 2007). Harris is best known for her Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) novels and has written two other series, as well as several standalone works and short story collections.
Harper Connelly has a unique gift; she can feel/find dead people. She can locate a dead body, if given a general location of their where abouts, then she gets a buzzing in her body that leads her to the deceased. She can tell you how they died, heart attack, old age, murder, she just can't tell you if they died, whodunit.
Harper's stepbrother Tolliver is her constant companion due to Harper's special gift and needs. Together they travel to a town called Sarne to locate the body of a young girl who was believed to have been with her boyfriend when he died. His body has been recovered, but hers hasn't. Usually Harper locates the body and then leaves, ASAP. This time in Sarne obstacles and circumstances keep making it impossible for Harper and Tolliver to leave.
The relationship between the two siblings is a little unusual but once you figure out some of their background and learn more about Harper and her gift you can understand the closeness.
After being introduced this past year to Charlaine Harris I have been enjoying the Southern Vampire series and decided to check out some of her other books. I was not at all disappointed in this book; in fact I enjoyed it tremendously. Charlaine Harris has quickly become one of my favorite authors; her books have an endless supply of amazing entertainment and never leave me unsatisfied. She has, book after book, made me a fan
I am horrible at solving mysteries. I always think I know the who and sometimes the why, but in the end I am always wrong. In this case, I figured out pretty much everything early on, and turned out to right. Now I could attribute my sleuthing excellence to a bizarre alignment of the planets, a phase of the moon, or a stroke of temporary genius, but I am thinking the mystery was just a tad weak. Because of that I gave it 4 stars instead of the 5, although for me knowing didn't ruin any of the story, I still had a fabulous time reading. I can't wait to move on to the next.
on April 15, 2007
Grave Sight (2005) is the first fantasy novel in the Harper Connelly series. Harper was struck by lightning as a girl and after that she was able to sense the presence of bodies. When she is close enough to the body, she also relives the death experience.
In this novel, Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, have come to Sarne -- a small town in the Ozarks -- to find a body. Dell Teague, a teenage boy, had been found dead six months ago, but his girlfriend Monteen Hopkins had not been missed until the next day and the body still hasn't been found. Dell's mother, Sybil Teague, hires Harper to find the missing girl.
Harper finds Teeny's body and faints from the shock of reliving the youngster's murder. Then Harper and Tolliver have to stay in Sarne awaiting confirmation of identity by the state police lab before being paid. Harper finds out more about Teeny and Dell and even meets Helen Hopkins, Monteen's mother.
Harper also meets a friendly policeman, Hollis Boxleitner, who had been married to Teeny's sister. Sally Boxleitner had died before Teeny and Harper soon finds out that she too had been murdered. Then another murder occurs and Harper is told to stay in town.
In this story, the common people of Sarne are generally hospitable, but Sheriff Harvey Bransom is very hostile. His widowed sister Sybil and her lawyer Paul Edwards seem to be more antsy than usual. Other people associated with the principals are even more hostile than the sheriff. And then there are the state police investigators.
Harper has a continuing problem with people who believe that her ability to find the dead is fraudulent or downright weird. Some even believe her to be an agent of the devil. She has been stoned as a witch and once she barely escaped from a mob. She suffers from a bad case of kill the messenger.
Having this talent has made her life more difficult. Yet she also has the consolation of giving closure to the relatives of missing persons. Still, Harper is not always successful in finding the missing bodies, particularly when the victim has been taken far away from the scene of the crime. Her own sister is one such case.
Harper and Tolliver are very close. Although they came from different families, her mother and his father were married when they were older children. Since these parents were alcoholics and drug users, their children were more neglected than parented. Harper and Tolliver raised their younger siblings with a little help from Mark, Tolliver's older brother.
Having personal experience with such neglected and abused children, I find Harper's backstory to be fairly typical of such cases, even to the children trying to avoid the governmental authorities. Naturally, these two are very protective of -- and dependent upon -- each other.
This story is an unusual variant on the murder mystery. As with the Southern Vampire series, the paranormal element introduces a wild card into the plot. Although Harper's rare talent is powerful, it also has strict limits; for example, she only perceives what the victim sees in the last few moments. Rarely does she know the identity of a killer.
Highly recommended for Harris fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of mysterious murders, exceptional talents and unusual persons.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Well, ok, just like everyone else, I read "Grave Sight" because I was enamored with Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Series. (I lovelove Sookie!) So of course I wanted to check out the author's other work. I rated this book with 3 stars because it was relatively weak for me. I will however keep reading the series... I think it was just a first book blues. You know, you're getting to know all the characters so not much is happening. I still recommend this book to anyone who loves Charlaine's other work and those looking for a good mystery novel.
The world in the Harper Connolly series is like our world- no vampires, ghouls or the like. However, Harper has a paranormal ability. She can find dead people and see them, along with the last seconds of their death. She can see how they died, not who killed them. These limitations are what make the story so intense and thrilling. There is a lot of the "who did it?" going on here.
Harper is our reluctant hero here. She travels all over the country offering her services (of seeing the dead) for a high price. She isn't very well received by people, even those that she tries to help, because most believe her to be a fraud. Harper finds herself stuck living her past and she admits that this needs to change. She is a depressed, dependent heroine and this makes her very unlikeable in my opinion. I think that she'll grow on me though as her character develops and becomes more independent. I have to say that I am glad that Harper is very- I am what I am. No excuses. She has a relationship with her brother- this is who she is so dependent on. Their relationship is a little weird, I can't imagine having a relationship with my stepbrother like this. Then again, we weren't struck by lightning and didn't have parents addicted to drugs. =)
I have to say that even though I gave this book 3 stars, I couldn't wait to read the next. I was really intrigued by the progress both characters make and how they will be further 'developed.' I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes the Sookie series or Bard series by Harris... This is also a great filler while waiting for the next Sookie books to be released! I can also say that this series DOES get better if you keep reading. So read it, it is relatively fast paced and a great quick read.
on October 24, 2005
I've been a big fan of Harris' Southern Vampire series from the moment they came out. I enjoy her vivid characters and the way she really makes you care about what happens to them. Now she has a new series and I love it just as much. While Harper is a slightly weaker character than Sookie from the SV series, it's easy to see that she has an inner strength and she's going to grow in the coming books. I love the matter-of-fact way she treats her power, making a living from it instead of hiding it away in shame.
Another point that has people talking about this series is the fact that Harper travels with her step-brother, Tolliver. There is beyond a doubt, a deep though unspoken attraction between them and some people have complained that it is 'creepy.' I have to point out that they are in no way related by blood and I find their relationship fascinating and not creepy a bit. Often in romance books, the author has to go through a lot of drama to manufacture a reason why the hero and heroine can't get together. While not a romance, Harris' new book has an undercurrent of romance running through it. I'll be very interested to see in the next installment if Harper will recognize and act on her attraction to Tolliver and if their relationship will be treated as 'taboo' by the other people in their lives.
Harris is one of those authors that make me wish I could write like her. I devoured this book in a single sitting and I'm already wishing for the next one.
on November 3, 2005
I can understand both points of view which I have to date read in reviews here.
Grave Sight is very well written book, also with a new twist on the familiar "small town murder"-esque mystery plots.
No, it is not the best book I have ever read, but it is intruiging, and it is a book which you want to keep on turning the pages. So it certainly is NOT one of the worst books I have recently read either.
The interaction between Tolliver and Harper is very interesting, and I do look forwards to reading more about their "relationship"...(in a number of senses of the word)
I suppose this boils down to no, Grave Sight is not worth 5 stars. Yet I am comfortable giving it 4, simply because the book is indeed well written, the main characters keep your attention (ie, you don't want to drop the book and wash the cat instead of continuing to read...) and their "voices" are beilevable and comfortable.
Add on to that this is the first book in the "series" and Charlaine Harris is obviously settling in to the flair of this particular series, and I am more than interested in the sequal, and will wait another book or two before making a more firm opinion.
on October 5, 2005
Charlaine Harris' resilient new character, Harper Connelly, is a clairvoyant. Struck by lightning at an early age, Harper can now sense the whereabouts of dead people and once she finds the body, she "sees" how the person died. One would think that consulting with law enforcement to solve missing person cases and bring closure to families would be considered an honorable thing to do, but Harper's job tends to be a pretty thankless one. In this first installment, someone in a small town in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas doesn't want Harper to get too close to solving a mystery.
On a personal note, I don't read many mysteries but I do read a lot of "otherworldly" fiction like Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series. In Grave Sight, I enjoyed the character of the clairvoyant, but the "mystery" and "villain" elements were pretty obvious to me from about a third of the way into the story.
Harper and the other characters definitely made this a fun and fast read, so five stars for Harper Connelly and three stars for the mystery plot = 4 stars.