Skip to main content

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

So ever since my decadent little re-read of Fire I've been in a reading slump. One foul doozy of a slump. I restlessly picked up and put down a handful of books, all of them full of potential, none of them able to hold my attention. Fortunately I'm still thinking clearly enough at this point to know it's me with the problem, not them. And I carefully set them aside on the nightstand to be picked up in a later, more amenable mood. But desperation was setting in and my family was starting to feel the effects. And then a friend saved the day by reminding me the new Harper Connelly book was out! The fourth installment in Charlaine Harris' "other" series, I'd been looking forward to the release of Grave Secret ever since finishing the excellent An Ice Cold Grave two years ago. Entirely different from her Sookie Stackhouse series, the Harper books are gritty mysteries with just a hint of the paranormal. I absolutely love them.

Harper and her stepbrother (and manager) Tolliver are on the road again. Having left the horrors of North Carolina behind them once and for all, they're headed to Texas to check in with their little sisters. With the disappearance of her sister Cameron eight years ago, their family dissolved. Harper went into foster care, Tolliver to live with his older brother Mark, and the little girls went to their Aunt Iona and Uncle Hank's in Texas. Over the years Harper and Tolliver made it a point to stay in touch with their siblings, despite their aunt and uncle's deep disapproval of their lifestyle and Harper's way of earning a living. This particular visit is unexpectedly prolonged when Tolliver's jailbird father is released from prison and shows up full of remorse and wanting to reconnect with his children. At the same time, Harper finds a few more dead people than she bargained for on her latest case, sending shock waves through the family of the deceased. As old memories threaten to overtake the careful peace these two have constructed, Harper and Tolliver find themselves caught between family, clients, and the law.

I sank back into this world as if no time at all had passed since my last visit. There's something about these two characters and the mature way they've gone about reclaiming their lives after the horror of their childhoods that just fills my empty spaces. Harper and Tolliver accept that they are all each other has in such a matter-of-fact way, with such stoic integrity, it pulls at my heartstrings. I read each book hoping nothing happens to them they won't be able to recover from, looking forward to each interaction, enjoying that tense, dark reality with which Harris surrounds her characters. Grave Secret lived up to expectations on more than one level. Harper and Tolliver's relationship never falters even as they find the truth about their past is even more heinous than they believed it to be. I found myself chanting, "Don't trust him, don't trust him" over and over throughout the book, on the edge of my seat worrying about them. I liked how Harper was forced to deal with some things alone in this one. I liked that Harris didn't ease up at all when it came to what actually went down in that trailer in Texarkana. This series has remained refreshingly consistent over the course of four books. And, despite the fact that several overarching plot threads are wrapped up in this volume, I would happily read as many books as she'd like to write about Harper and Tolliver. Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series is by far the more famous of the two, and I love it, but I find myself gravitating toward these more serious, quietly compelling mysteries. Highly recommended.

Comments

  1. I've read her southern vampire mysteries, but these sound good to.

    http://fantasysink.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    I hate that funk! It's all too familiar to me. I went through it after SHIVER a couple months ago. Thanks for the recommendation of another great series to check out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I started her first Sookie book but since I own it, am saving it for Thanksgiving vacation to finish. Meanwhile, I was wondering about her other series, which dont' get near the acclaim that 'True Blood' does, but it's nice to know they're loved too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What is with the reading slumps lately? I see so many bloggers saying that right now. (Me too, but getting out of it).

    I REALLY want to read this one but I have a biiiiigg line ahead of it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Sookie books really aren't my style, but these sound good. Will have to pick them up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maria, they really are. And they are quite different from the Sookie books, but in the best kind of way.

    Nikki, it's the worst. Ugh. Fortunately the book I read after this one was killer so I'm hoping I'm back on board! Review to come soon...

    Raspberry, I highly recommend these. I love both series but, as I've said, these are a horse of a different color from the Sookies and so if they're not someone's cuppa, I encourage them to give these a shot.

    Janicu, I have no idea but it sucks. Big Time. I'm glad you're on your way out of it. I think I am as well. Here's to you getting around to this one sometime in the not too distant future. :)

    Britt, yeah, I think you'd like these better. The two leads are great characters and the mysteries are involving and well paced.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What happened to Heart's Blood?!

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you like the Harper & Tolliver books, you might try the Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris. They're straight mysteries, but I really think her best work is in them. They have a gritty, bittersweet feel like the Harper & Tolliver books.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Holly, more on that later...

    erin, I'm so glad you mentioned the Lily Bard books because I LOVE that series. In fact I'm planning an upcoming Retro Fridays post on it since they haven't gotten nearly the recognition they deserve, IMO.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You know, I love the Sookie series (go Eric!) but have never picked up anything else by Harris. I'm glad to hear this one is good - have you tried the Lily Bard ones? Which do you think is better?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Michelle, I think you should try both her other series! I have read the Lily Bard ones and LOVE them. As far as which is better....tough call. I think it's sixes for me. And I love them both as much as the Sookies, though they are both darker.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I LOVE that series. In fact I'm planning an upcoming Retro Fridays

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Need by Carrie Jones

First of all. How about those gold lips? Shimmery! The color of those lips does a good job of representing the glittery-but-dangerous magic in this book. Just as the pale skin of their owner conveys the tone of the story quite well: pale, cold, and creepy. I'm pretty sure this is my first pixie urban fantasy and I wasn't sure what to expect. What I did not expect was feeling like I was back inside the world of  Stephen King 's  It . But apparently if a book's got Maine, winter, and a town with a curse on it, it will always evoke the same prickly, back-of-the-neck feelings in me. And  Need 's heroine shares my sentiments.  Zara's stepdad is dead. After watching her waste away day by day, Zara's mother puts her on a plane and sends her to her de facto grandmother--her stepdad's mom Betty. Betty lives in Maine. Maine feels like another world to Zara. A world in which the every surface is blanketed in snow and the local teenagers are all track stars or foot

Bibliocrack Review: Unsticky by Sarra Manning

I'm still just a little bit protective of my feelings over this book. Do you ever feel that way after finishing a book that completely threw you for a loop (in the very best way)? I feel distinctly protective of our relationship, the book and I. I'm still mulling over the way things ended on my lunch break and as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. Because it took me by such surprise, and because I fell in love with it so fast and hard, I'm just not at all sure I'm ready to talk about the experience. But enough of my book reviewing eccentricities. I've held onto my feelings long enough and it's time to let them see the light of day. Because Unsticky did a bit of a number on me. This is my first foray into Sarra Manning 's body of work and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to find out for myself what the rest of you have been going on about. For those of you not familiar with her work, Ms. Manning is known for her contemporary young adult titles, w

Review: Shapeshifted by Cassie Alexander

I do not know how Cassie Alexander manages to serve up two installments in her wonderful Edie Spence series each year, but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Please to be continuing in this vein, Ms. Alexander! Because this series just gets better and better. And finishing Shapeshifted knowing I still have Deadshifted to look forward to at the end of this year just fills me with both gratitude and excitement. I worry about my favorite urban fantasy heroines. I worry. I am frequently forced to be away from them at times when I would really rather not leave. And when it comes to Edie, that was getting to be pretty much all the time. Her life was fairly decently fractured at the end of   the last book. I wasn't sure how she would cope with the enforced changes, and I wondered how long she would spend on the outside once things started up again in the new book. The questions that occupy my mind, you guys. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but it's a cacophon