Having read and loved all the Sookie Stackhouse books, I was really looking forward to my first foray into the Harper ‘Grave’ books. Harper, a troubled and intense young woman (all for very good reasons) and who is managed by her tall, acne-scarred older half-brother, Tolliver, senses dead people. In fact, she has a tidy little business travelling the United States finding them for various people mainly for the purposes of personal and legal ‘closure’. Before you conjure up images of THAT movie (the M. Night Shalyman ‘I see dead people’), this is quite different. Struck by lightening as a child, Harper feels the imprint and last moments of the dead – even the long dead who have shuffled off this mortal coil. And, in the USA, there seems to be a great many of those.
In this first book in the series, Harper and Tolliver are hired by a cold and superficial socialite, Sybil Teague, to find the body of a teenage girl, the improbably named, Teenie, who, after her son suicided, went missing and was never found. Finding themselves in a small town named Sarne, Harper and Tolliver encounter superstition, fear and more death. Though she doesn’t normally hunt down murderers, Harper is drawn into the case of missing Teenie and her tragic family. The tragedy surrounding them matched only by the glimpses we’re given into Harper and Tolliver’s own childhood.
This is a great premise for a series and Harper and Tolliver are fascinating characters in principle and the oppressive nature of the small town and it’s small-minded inhabitants is well-drawn, BUT… I found this a very slow book where nothing much really happened and despite the terrific idea and gradual revealing of Harper and Tolliver’s background, I found them both curiously one-dimensional. I know this is a set-up novel and I will give the next one a go as well, but for me it didn’t captivate me the way I hoped and the way the Sookie books certainly did. However, other readers have rated the series very well here so I will continue!