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VINE VOICEon September 28, 2006
I must tell you I didn't quite like Grave Sight, the debut book of this series. But, this sequel, Grave Surprise, fell into place and looks to be another great series for Harris.
Harper and her half-brother Tolliver tried to find Tabitha Morgenstern in the past, and while doing a demonstration in a Memphis cemetery 2 years later, find her in an old grave. The mystery deepens as the police, FBI, and family of the lost girl as well as Harper and Tolliver deal with the mystery of how did the child end up from Nashville to Memphis.
The relationship between Harper and Tolliver is believable, though complex. What I felt in the shadows of the first book was confirmed in this book. The writing is crisp and well paced. The only thing I don't like in any book is longer chapters. But if that is the only minus..no prob.
I will look forward to more in this series.
And the Southern Vampire series we all love.
Grave Surprise is a good read.
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on July 30, 2007
Grave Surprise (2006) is the second fantasy mystery novel in the Harper Connelly series, following Grave Sight. In the previous volume, the final confrontation and shootout exposes the secrets of almost everybody. Harper and Tolliver are lucky to get out of town alive.

In this novel, Harper is hired to give a demonstration for an occult studies class in a newly documented graveyard in Memphis, Tennessee. The contract is issued by Bingham College for the class of Professor Clyde Nonley. As far as Harper is concerned, the Professor is a professional jerk.

The graveyard is on the grounds of the college and a detailed list of burials and causes of death had been discovered about three months previously. At first, the professor enjoys directing Harper from grave to grave, but her detailed answers to his queries are beginning to upset his preconceptions. Then he directs her to a grave up against the fence around the cemetery.

At first, Harper declares the occupant to be a young girl and the professor gleefully states that she is wrong. Then Harper notices that another set of bones lies in a coffin below the girl's body. Then she suddenly recognizes the identity of the most recent body.

Tabitha Morgenstern had disappeared in Nashville about eighteen months prior to her rediscovery. Harper had been called in a month after the disappearance and had followed every possible lead within the Nashville area before giving up on the case. Maybe the body had been in Memphis even before she had started her search.

In this story, Joel Morgenstern and his first wife were originally from Memphis, but had moved to Nashville during their marriage. Whitney Morgenstern birthed Victor and then died from cancer in Nashville. Two years later, Joel married Diane and she raised her stepson from a baby. Then their daughter Tabitha was born in Nashville.

Since Harper had only known the Morgensterns in Nashville, she is definitely surprised to learn that the family is now living in Memphis. Joel had apparently brought his wife back home about a year ago. Since then, Diane has become pregnant and is expecting a son. She is very close to birthing the baby.

The Morgensterns are very grateful to Harper for finally finding the body of their daughter. They invite Harper and Tolliver over for lunch to share the food offerings from their friends. There Harper meets other members of the family, including Fred Hart, the father of Whitney and Felicia. Of course, both Harper and Tolliver know Felicia Hart as Victor's aunt. They also meet Joel's parents -- Judy and Ben -- and his brother David.

Harper and Victor had previously shared a moment of shared grief in Nashville, so he confides several bits of information with her at the luncheon. Interrupted before he can finish his confession, Harper is pleased that Victor later shows up at the hotel. Unhappily, so does his uncle David, who speaks somewhat coarsely at Harper and gets punched in the stomach by Tolliver.

This story seems to be a setup, for Tabitha had obviously been moved from another grave. Who had instigated the hiring of Harper to read the occupants of the old cemetery? Their only lead, Professor Nonley, is killed shortly after Tabitha's exhumation and then placed in the open grave.

This case reminds Harper of her missing sister Cameron. She had vanished while on her way home from school. Only her backpack had been recovered, despite years of searching by Harper. At least Tabitha's body had been found to provide closure for her parents.

Since this reviewer tends to become absorbed into the story, the conclusion came as a surprise. However, it would seem to be more obvious by hindsight. Harper should have been savvy enough to sense the murderer much earlier from personal contacts. Or maybe the truth is just easier to see after the facts are laid out for inspection. After all, Harper is not able to read the living as well as she does the dead.

One wonders why so many reviewers insist on comparing the author's different series, often to the determent of this series? Often authors start new series to try different ideas and maybe different treatments. So many reviewers of the first book in this series rejected it because of its dissimilarities with prior series. Should the author just keep on writing the same storyline long after the enjoyment has withered away? At least this volume seems to have been accepted so far without cries of dejection from disappointed reviewers.

Highly recommended for Harris fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of esoteric talents, personal development, and slowly budding romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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on October 3, 2006
I think Ms. Harris has found her footing with this second mystery in this series. While I enjoyed and recommnended the first book, the mystery was a bit all over the place. However, in this one she has created a tighter mystery that is both a bit ghastly and intriguing. I guessed who before the end but not exactly why.

Harper and Tolliver are interesting characters and I think bringing in Xzylda and Manfred was a very good idea. I hope they appear again in the future. Harris has a way of surprising the reader with who the good guys in the world are.
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VINE VOICEon January 14, 2008
This is the second book in the Harper Connelly Mystery series.

When Harper Connelly was a young girl she was struck by lightning. Since the lightning strike there are several oddities that are now a normal part of her life; weakness in one of her legs, a spider web pattern on her leg, headaches and oh yeah, she can locate dead people. If Harper is in a reasonable distance of a corpse she can find its exact location and see the deceased's final moments.

Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver, travel to Memphis to hold a demonstration of her talents at a very old cemetery whose records have just been located. Professor Nunley brings her out there thinking to prove her a charlatan in front of his class, only to have Harper accurately name the deceased and their causes of death. When she stumbles on a recent burial of a young girl, the professor thinks he has won. But, of course, Harper is right and memories of a case she wasn't able to solve come flooding back when she knows she finally found the poor girls body.

Harper and Tolliver are then the center of a media storm as Harpers gift is scrutinized and the search for the killer begins...

I admit to being a little put off by the unusually close relationship Harper and Tolliver seem to share. I don't know why, maybe it's because I have a brother and if he did half the things that Tolliver does, I'd scream, flee, then vomit... and I am sure the feeling is mutual. During the first book, Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1), I had to repeat "they are step siblings; there is no blood between them." I think half way through this book I finally got over it. Halfway through this book I began to see beyond the "step" label and just see two people who share an intense past and who love and care for one another, deeply.

This was a great follow up to Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1). I was pleased to find the mystery a little more challenging then the first one and found myself flip flopping through the list of suspects. I thought the characters gave the reader an interesting mix of feelings, often times both sympathy and suspect. I already ordered the third book, An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 3), and then went on Charlaine Harris's web site to see when I might be able to get the fourth book. It's safe to say, I am hooked!
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on October 15, 2009
In Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris picks up the story of her new heroine, Harper Connelly, shortly after the end of Grave Sight (book one). Harper -- a lightning strike survivor who can now locate the dead and see their last moments -- has been called to an old graveyard to do an exhibition for a college professor and his students. But she finds a missing 11-year-old that she's been looking for for 18 months instead. This introduction sets up a mystery with many twists and turns and lots of surprises.

I'm trying to like Harper Connelly, but the deck is kind of stacked against her. I really adore Harris' character Sookie Stackhouse and the books in that series, and the Harper Connelly mysteries are definitely written to tap into that existing audience of readers. But I just don't get drawn into the stories in the same way. I didn't have a hard time putting down Grave Sight. I didn't seek out times to read, just squeezed it in when it was convenient. Thus the three-star rating. It's a solid story, and enough to peak my interest for the third book, Ice Cold Grave, but I'm not in a rush to add it to my collection.
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on October 7, 2006
The past has not always been kind to Harper Connelly. Both parents had drug addiction problems, and her mother eventually died of AIDS. But one disaster, a direct lightning strike, uncovered an unusual, long hidden talent. As Harper explains to a doubtful police detective, "I find corpses. People call me in, and I find the bodies of those who've passed on. If the location of the corpse is already known, I can tell you the cause of death." Traveling with her stepbrother and business partner, Tolliver Lang, she arrives in Nashville, Tennessee at the invitation of anthropologist, Clyde Nunely, who would like her to demonstrate her particular talent to his class. He is skeptical of course, and Harper realizes this, but she is used to such an attitude. The students, Harper, Tolliver and Nunely meet at the old St Margaret's churchyard where Nunely has Harper stand on various graves, tell who is buried there and how each person died. Harper has no problem with this until reaching the grave of Josiah Poundstone. She is startled when she senses two bodies, one of which has been recently buried. Then Harper realizes that the second body belongs to a young girl, Tabitha Morgenstern only 11 years-old when she disappeared a year ago.

From here the story takes bizarre twists and turns. A month after Tabitha disappearance the Morgensterns had asked Harper to help locate their daughter. She was never able to do so until now. The police are called and Harper is immediately under suspicion. She and Tolliver know that the discovery of Tabitha's body by Harper cannot be a coincidence. They have no idea who could be behind this, but they need to find out ASAP.

The vividly drawn characters are as interesting as the the mystery that surrounds them. At the heart of Grave Surprise is a neat puzzle with a Perry Mason finale.
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on September 28, 2006
I have waited hopefully for the release of this book. The first in the series, Grave Sight, was excellent though filled with bile and bitterness towards Harper and her step brother Tolliver.

This second book is complete in its self. A wonderful thing to find in series fiction. Both characters are believable, and have a deep bond between them that is made believable by their childhood history together. Harper longs for a house and to be normal, but she is far more fascinating as she is; ragged around the edges at times, poised and cool at other times, and very clear about where she believes she fits in the world. Tolliver is a little harder to understand though there is no question about his loyalty and love for his step sister.

I found the book to be tightly written, fast paced and very difficult to put down. The plot was woven skillfully, all the clues are there to see, but I was still guessing about what happened until the last few pages. I did find following who was related to who and how a bit confusing, but worth the effort to follow.

This is a great read, and for fans of Ms. Harris, a must have.
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VINE VOICEon September 16, 2007
Grave Surprise

I first ordered Grave Sight for my wife and she enjoyed it so much I order this sequel for her. She read the sequel in like two days. She also enjoys the TV shows Bones and House, if that helps any.

Gunner September 2007
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on October 1, 2006
This is the second in a new series of mysteries by Charlaine Harris, and perhaps if the reader didn't get the subtleties of the first, this one is the better of the two. This is not my opinion, though. I think they are equally good. After I'd read the first, Grave Sight, a friend and I discussed what I thought was happening. We both agreed that Ms Harris can write a good mystery, but it's the subtleties of the subtext that puts her over the top.

Harper Connelly can find dead people. And since she's ill-equipped to do much else she and her step brother, Tolliver Lang, (his father and her mother wed when they were teen-agers) have started what's fast becoming a lucrative business finding dead people.

As Grave Sight opens we find Harper and her step brother in a cemetery as a guest of Clyde Nunley who teaches a class on paranormal at the local university. It is there that Harper discovers a body she'd been hired to find over 18 months ago. As a result, Harper and Tolliver find themselves involved with the police and embroiled in family politics.

Harper is a strange breed. Having been struck by lightning she can, at times, seem a little fey and perhaps a bit fragile. Her step-brother seems the exact opposite. He manages the money and keeps the appointments. He also looks out for Harper. The two of them together make very interesting reading.

The mystery is good, it took me a while to figure it out, but as I mentioned earlier it's other things that held my attention. I won't spoil it. Just pick up a copy and read carefully.
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VINE VOICEon October 7, 2006
Charlaine Harris is hitting her stride in this new mystery-paranormal venture. In her first book, "Grave Sight" Harris introduced Harper and Tolliver, a brother-and-sister team who travel the country helping to find buried bodies. You see, a lightning strike when Harper was 15 left her with the ability to locate bodies, know the person's name and their cause of death.

This latest case finds the pair in Memphis, TN as guest lecturers to a paranormal science class. Dr. Clyde Nunley, the prof, has found records to an old cemetary and he's going to use them to discredit Harper's talent.

Unfortunately, Harper names the cause of death for every grave she's read--until the last one, where she realizes that there are two bodies in one grave and she recognizes the newer burial as an 11-year-old girl they'd been hired to find over a year ago.

Tabitha Morgenstern's case was Harper's only failure--til then, and now she's suspect in the girl's murder. The action is fast-paced. I found the killer a little too easily, but the mystery was still worth reading.

Looking forward to the next episode.
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