Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review - Charlaine Harris' Grave Secret

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
Format: Kindle, 306 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Order

Harper Connelly and Tolliver Wells have barely recovered from their horrific experiences in North Carolina (read An Ice Cold Grave) when they decide to head to Texas to see their two little half siblings, Mariella and Gracie. They figure that it's going to be tough enough telling the girls that the two of them have gone from step siblings to being a couple, let alone the girls religious adaptive parents, Iona and Hank. On the way they stop off near where they grew up in Texarkana, to do a reading for a Lizzie Joyce who read about Harper and decided she couldn't rest until she thought of a reason to invite her to Clear Creek. Harper decides to throw out a few freebies for the Joyce's and Chip Moseley, the manager of their ranch and Lizzie's beau, before she get's to their grandfather, who is the reason for her visit. Harper unwittingly uncovers that not only had the Joyce's grandfather died of a heart attack induced by someone throwing a snake at him, but his caretaker had died after childbirth. Unconcerned with this bombshell they've dropped on the family, Harper and Tolliver head onto Dallas, and their own family. The reaction to Harper and Tolliver becoming a couple, and in fact becoming engaged, really shocks their family, even Tolliver's brother Mark is taken aback. This reaction on top of a multitude of other reasons, including Iona finally becoming pregnant, leads Harper to consider that perhaps her and Tolliver's dream of moving to Dallas and becoming more involved in their sister's lives is in fact unwise.

But everything takes a back seat when Tolliver's dad, Matthew, shows back up. The man who shared Harper's mother's slide into depravity. The drug addict who would willingly sell his own step-daughter to eager men. The drug addict who ruined their lives and wasn't their for them when Cameron went missing. He's been released "clean and sober" from prison, but more importantly he wants to "reconnect" with his family, surprising them on their day out skating. They desire to have nothing to do with him, making him resort to tailing them. But something worse happens...Tolliver is shot and it appears he might not have been the target. Bodies start piling up but the one body Harper hopes to find more than any other remains elusive. Will Harper even find Cameron? Also why where they attacked? Could the Joyce's case, whose missing baby is being looked into by Harper and Tolliver's old PI friend Victoria Flores, have a connection to Cameron? Was the answer to Cameron's disappearance closer than Harper even knew? And can Matthew really not be involved in all this? Thankfully Manfred shows up to land an ever eager hand.

While I will freely admit this was not my favorite in the series, which given the quality of the series is so not a slam, it was the most satisfying. Answers have been given and it all makes nice sense. Answers which you won't be hearing from these lips...or these nimbly typing fingers as the case would be. This book was far more personal then the other three, dealing with how bad their life was in the little trailer in Texarkana. Instead of an outside murder mystery plot driving the story, here the plot is driven by discovering the mysteries within these character's lives. We see more clearly then ever before the horrors of their past and how Cameron affected their lives. After the total disclosure and revelation of this book you feel like you can understand the characters better than before and that until now they were never truly formed, like something was missing. I also have to say, I loved the Joyce's. They were quite literally the Ewings of Dallas. This was like one long season of the most wonderful of shows with missing babies, hidden heirs, a murder or two and then, BAM, a kick to the gut with the fistful of answers you were waiting for. Also, I like Tolliver and all... but Harper and Manfred... hmmm... it has a certain kind of interesting allure... Also if you take issue with Harper and Tolliver, then you take issue with Clueless... it's the same resulting hookup!


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