By Charlaine Harris
Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Berkley Prime Crime Books, c2005, 2006
Genres: Mystery, paranormal mystery
Series: Harper Connelly; 1
Number of pages: 293 (310 including the beginning of Grave Surprise).
Setting: Sarne, AR (a fictional town set in the Ozarks)
Time period: Around 2005
Plot summary: When Harper Connelly was fifteen years old, she was struck by lightning. As a result, she can now see a person’s last few moments of life before death. She works with her step-brother, Tolliver, as a consultant for people who wish to know more about a loved one’s death and seek her services. Harper and Tolliver accept a case to search for a missing body in Sarne. However, once Harper finds the body, another person ends up dead.
Pacing: Fast paced with lots of dialogue.
Characterization: Told in first person through Harper. Tolliver is the most important secondary character.
Frame: Harper has not had an easy life and being surrounded by death does not make it easier. In spite of this, she maintains a healthy sense of respect for dead; she is more wary of the living.
Story line: An entertaining mystery with slight paranormal elements.
Women — Crimes against — Fiction.
Serial murders — Fiction.
Connelly, Harper (Fictitious character) — Fiction.
Clairvoyants — Fiction.
Ozark Mountains — Fiction.
Similar works – mysteries involving ghosts:
A Hard Day’s Fright by Casey Daniels
Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart
City of Masks by Daniel Hecht
Greywalker by Kat Richardson
Personal notes: I liked this book, but not nearly as much as the Sookie Stackhouse series. I don’t find Harper to be as compelling a character. I also found this book to be much slower paced than the Sookie books – which are action packed. I was able to figure out most of the mystery about halfway through the book, which was a bit of a letdown – there was still a small surprise at the end. I’ll probably try Grave Surprise to see if the characters grow on me over time or if the mystery is a bit trickier.
Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – woman with limited clairvoyant abilities, victim of a lightning strike, children of alcoholics