Being struck by lighting would be bad enough for most people.
We’re talking catastrophic.
If you survived you’d most likely suffer some sort of severe trauma—possibly brain damage, muscle damage, severe burns, trauma, deafness, blindness, damage to your nervous system, the list goes on.
But one thing that you wouldn’t expect if you were struck by lighting is the ability to find the dead and relive their last moments.
Harper Connelly doesn’t have the typical symptoms associated with a lighting strike. Sure, her right leg is weaker than her left and she had this odd spiderweb-like pattern on her leg. Her muscles cramp up and she is prone to easily becoming wiped out but generally she got off lucky; that is, if you consider lucky to be feeling the presence of the dead.
Charlaine Harris' first book in The Harper Connelly Mysteries series, Grave Sight, introduces Harper as a quirky, witty, sort of private eye type. Nothing particularly original about her character, really. Compared to some of the other heroines of urban fantasy, Harper seems a little more... co-dependant? She relies totally on her step-brother Tolliver, almost to the point where you wonder if she could go on if something were to happen to him. Needless to say Tolliver doesn’t help as he plays the role of overbearing brother/father-figure/boyfriend... er...
But this isn’t completely a bad thing and definitely shows the strong bond of their relationship (anyone who can get along with someone long enough to live with them and constantly travel with them gets props in my book. Bonus points if you’re related to them!).
Harper mainly uses her ability to find the dead and offers the families of the victims a bit of closure.
In this book, Sybil Teague, a wealthy southern socialite and her lawyer, Paul Edwards hire Harper to find the bones of Monteen “Teenie” Hopkins who was apparently killed by her boyfriend Dell Teague, Sybil Teague’s son. Sybil wants to prove that her son didn’t kill Teenie even if he did commit suicide. It only takes Harper a few days to locate Teenie’s body and discover just how Teenie Hopkins died. A flag of suspicion instantly goes up surrounding the circumstances of how the teenager was actually murdered.
After visiting Dell’s grave her suspicions are confirmed. Dell was murdered, he hadn’t committed suicide and she begins to suspect that the same person who murdered them probably also killed Sally, Teenie’s sister and Deputy Hollis Boxleitner’s wife.
When Teenie’s mother, Helen, is found brutally beaten to death in her home a day after Harper and Tolliver tell her how her daughter died, Harper instantly knows something’s up.
With a killer on the lose Harper and Tolliver have to figure out who’s behind the murders before it’s too late.
I've read this entire series and I really believe that this is one of Charlaine Harris’ more overlooked series. I actually think I like this series a lot more than her Sookie Stackhouse series, if you can believe that. There's just something about the fact that the plot line is rooted in our everyday, mundane world that makes it interesting. I think, at least I know that I sometimes I wonder what it would be like if the world we lived in had more ties to the supernatural, not just ghosts and spirits, but vampires, werewolves, zombies, the Fae and...
C'mon, I can't be the only person who wishes werewolves existed.
There are some more... unconventional topics that are explored later in this series which even though I probably should have seen it coming, I was still a little perturbed by the entire thing. But still it's no reason for you to skip over this series.
Honestly, I wasn't particularly fond of Harper's character all that much at first. I'm so used to heroes in urban fantasy novels being well... heroes: a lot more fearless, hit first ask questions later, the type of character that seeks out danger. Harper is a lot more vulnerable; but she quickly grew on me and the fact that she is somewhat flawed just makes her seem that much more human. She isn't particularly friendly or happy, she isn't plucky, she's had a rough life and she comes off a little as possibly having depression, but she's likable just the same.
Harris is defintely one of my favorite authors and in this series her writing definitely shines. The series is more murder mystery series than urban fantasy and while it isn't seething with stuff in the supernatural it still has enough to make it to my top ten favorite series list.