Grave Secret
by Charlaine Harris

The Berkley Publishing Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-425-23015-2.
Reviewed by Rhonda Esakov
Posted on 01/08/2010

Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Paranormal

In this fourth and final installment of the Harper Connelly series, Charlaine Harris does a wonderful job of creating new twists while reviving unresolved plot fragments from previous books. Grave Secret effectively ties together all the story lines of the prior three books.

As a teenager, Harper was struck by lightning and subsequently developed a strange talent of being able to hear the dead in their last few moments of life if she is near the body or standing on the grave. Shortly after the lightening strike, her family is torn asunder as an older sister goes missing, the baby is dying, and a difficult and abusive childhood is revealed resulting in her parents being taken to jail. The remaining children are parceled out to foster homes, homes with aunts, or to live on their own at a very young age. In earlier books, we see Harper and her step-brother, Tolliver, slowly build their "corpse talking" business while searching for clues to their missing sister and trying to rebuild their scattered family. In this latest book, Harper and Tolliver reveal that they are now engaged to their sisters when they travel to Texas for a job.

In Texas, they are supposed to discover how a wealthy family patriarch died, but they find a mystery that the client had not bargained for, when it turns out that someone will kill to keep the secrets buried. Tolliver gets shot, the abusive step-father is released from jail and wants to make amends. Or does he? All the little sub-plots, danger and turmoil that Harper faces keep the book moving along until a surprise conclusion is revealed.

Harris has a wonderful skill with developing enjoyable, believable characters and is brave enough to address real life issues of drug abuse, broken homes and the children who can and will rise above a terrible start to their lives. I think this is her best series and some of her best writing, and I will be sorry to say goodbye to her wonderful characters.

Charlaine Harris has been a published novelist for over twenty-five years. A native of the Mississippi Delta, she grew up in the middle of a cotton field. Now she lives in southern Arkansas with her husband, her three children, three dogs, and a duck. The duck stays outside. In addition to her work as a writer, Harris is the past senior warden of St. James Episcopal Church, a board member of Mystery Writers of America, a past board member of Sisters in Crime, a member of the American Crime Writers League, and past president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. She spends her "spare" time reading, watching her daughter play sports, traveling, and going to the movies. She loves to have readers visit her website.

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