Grave Secret (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 4)
by Charlaine Harris
Cover Artist: Judith Lagerman
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425230152
Date: 27 October 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Grave Secret is the fourth of the Harper Connelly series. In all the previous books, we had hints and glimpses of Harper and Tolliver's childhood. It wasn't pretty and the family was torn apart with the death of Harper's sister, Cameron. The two smallest children were put in the custody of relatives Iona and Hank Gorham. Now that Tolliver and Harper are making money from Harper's ability to to find the dead, and tell how they died, they drop in to visit when they can to see their sisters: Mariella now 12 and Gracie who is 9. So when they have a job in Texas, they decide to visit the girls.
The Texas job didn't seem that difficult. They wanted to know how their father died and drove Harper and Tolliver to the cemetery. But they didn't tell her which grave was their father's. Harper is a bit miffed but goes to work. It's the family that's surprised when Harper finds a grave that is not supposed to be there. Now they need to find out who was buried there and why -- but that's not Harper's job, she's done, or so she believes.
Harper doesn't like being back in Texas and so near where so much bad happened, including the kidnapping and maybe death of her sister. Tolliver's father is out of prison and trying to contact Tolliver. There's a lot of tension in the family from Tolliver and Harper's relationship, the irregular visiting of the young girls, Tolliver's father trying to contact the girls and Tolliver, and Tolliver's older brother stepping in on his father's side.
Family. These books, while about finding the dead and identifying how they died, are in many ways all about family. We've been learning bits and pieces about Harper and Tolliver's family. But the job that is done in identifying the causes of death in many ways gives family closure and peace. But with the disappearance of Cameron so many years ago, they've never had peace and closure themselves.
Harris has managed to give us another story where Harper is key to finding a body and determining cause of death. In many ways, it seems that all the books so far have been driving to this one -- the one where maybe, Harper and Tolliver will find some closure for their own past as they begin a new relationship and life for themselves.
Personally, I found this book difficult to read, not because it was less well-written than the others, but because it grabs your heart and doesn't let go. I'd be surprised if anyone can read it without shedding a few tears but I'd advise having a full box handy just in case.