Grave Sight is the first novel in Charlaine Harris (of Sookie Stackhouse/"True Blood" fame)'s Harper Connelly series.
Harper Connelly is not your average twenty-four-year-old woman. As a teenager, she was struck by lightening and left with a spiderweb like scar on her right leg, a susceptibility to migraines, and the ability to locate and see the last moments of dead bodies. Harper has taken her unique, but genuine ability and made a career out of it. With her step-brother Tolliver by her side as a business manager and , she travels the country and helps people find dead bodies. Though many people they come across think of Harper and Tolliver as charlatans preying on the grieving and broken, and many others find their acceptance of payment for services provided distasteful, Harper prefers to see it just as a job, like any other. Except her job has some unusual benefits and dangers.
Harper is booked for what should be a quick appointment in Sarne, a small town in the Ozark region of Arkansas. A teenage boy from a wealthy local family has committed suicide in the woods outside town, his other-side-of-the-tracks girlfriend is still missing months later, and people are beginning to talk about what the boy may have done to her. The boy's mother is anxious to prove her son's innocence in the girl's disappearance so she calls Harper in to search the are for the girl's body. In just a couple of hours of searching the area, Harper finds the girl and sees that she was running away from someone and was shot. It seems to be a pretty simple case, yet there are some pretty big secrets in Sarne that are trying to find their way into the light. Tolliver and Harper get in over their heads in a mystery that threatens to not only embroil them in crimes that have nothing to do with them, but just might end their lives.
This is the third series by Charlaine Harris that I have picked up. I loved the Sookie Stackhouse series, which is more supernatural romance with elements of mystery. I did not really care for the Aurora Teagarden series, which was more violent/true crime based. I really enjoyed the first in the Harper Connelly series. Harris is an excellent storyteller and she seems to be at her best when weaving in elements of the supernatural. I have read better detective novels, with more surprising surprise endings, but I did not think less of this book or of Harris for not shocking me completely. It was really more about the journey than the destination with this book.
Harper Connelly is an excellent main character. Harris has a way of creating female protagonists who are manage to be strong and resilient, yet vulnerable. It is a characteristic that makes her characters seem realistic. The powerhouse, no-fear, balls-to-the-wall warrior princess character can be fun, but she is not a character I can identify with. And I cannot stand the poor, woe-is-me heroines. They are simply irritating.
Though I will admit, some of the corpse talk in the book (and the second one, which I will review as soon as I can) can be a little on the creepy side, I like how Harper not only does her job to get money, but as a way to help the dead. She says on more than one occasion that the dead want to be found, that they want the mysteries surrounding their deaths to be solved, and in this way, Harper is helping them, all the while treating them with the utmost respect. I look forward to spending more time with Harper and Tolliver in their interesting, if slightly macabre, world.