Grave Surprise

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Author: Charlaine Harris
ISBN: 978-057-507-8864

Grave Surprise, the suspenseful second novel in Charlaine Harris’s Grave series, picks up where Grave Sight leaves us.

Harper and Tolliver travel to Memphis where Harper demonstrates her ability to a university class. Professor Clive Nunley’s class ‘An Open Mind: Experiences Outside the Box’ sets out to uncover the frauds and con artists working in the paranormal field, and I use that term very broadly.

Harper is excited at the chance to demonstrate her unique talent, except for the presence of the Professor who is openly smug and makes no effort to hide the fact that he wants to humiliate her in front of his entire class. The smug look disappears rapidly when Harper proves to be right on every occasion. Not willing to let go of his scepticism Professor Nunley prefers to believe that Harper has managed to get her hands on sealed files.

grave surprise

All of this becomes academic when Harper discovers a major anomaly, an 11yr old girl sharing a plot with a 19yr old man buried in 1858. The suspense starts here, when the body is identified as Tabitha Morgenstern. Harper had been hired to find Tabitha 18mths previously when she was abducted from her front yard, with no success.

The coincidences keep piling up, and with every new coincidence it seems less and less likely that coincidence plays any part in this situation. Harper and Tolliver find themselves getting more and more involved in the situation with the Morgensterns, something they are always very careful to ensure doesn’t happen.

After a third body is discovered in the grave of poor restless Josiah the police ask Tolliver and Harper not to go too far. There are no pressing engagements booked straight away and they are now under suspicion so Tolliver and Harper begin investigating the situation themselves. Through expected channels, and channels a little less ordinary, they wade through lots of new information to track down the killer and try to make sense of the senseless loss of a beautiful young girls life.

Harris fleshes these characters out realistically, making you believe you could run  into them anywhere. Harper is strong and sure of herself, you would have to be in her line of work facing the constant scepticism and sometimes even open hostility, but she also depends extremely heavily on her stepbrother Tolliver.

The relationship between Tolliver and Harper has evolved quite dramatically in Grave Surprise and it will be very interesting to see how that develops throughout the remainder of the series. In Grave Sight you knew they were step siblings, related only by the marriage of their parents, but they just came across as siblings.

They were raised in a house together as siblings, that makes them brother and sister. In Grave Surprise they both seem to highlight the fact that they are step siblings, and I think all the time they spend on the road together is beginning to change the way they interact. I am intrigued to see how this situation will play out in the upcoming installments.

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