Saturday 14 May 2011

Read in 2011 - 10: Grave Sight

My next read was meant to be non-fiction, I wrote in my previous post, but it turned out to be fiction again, and of a kind I would not choose for myself normally:
"Grave Sight" by Charlaine Harris, a "paranormal" mystery.

It is not only an unexpected genre for me, but I also finished it unexpectedly quick after my previous read; yesterday's trip to my new boss' office is to blame for that - I had plenty of time on the train, which took a bit more than two hours to get there and another two to get back. When I got home last night, I was tired and not up to going out or doing much except for going to bed and finish the book, which is why I am now able to sit here and tell you about it.

The heroine was struck by lightning as a teenager and has a paranormal ability ever since: she can find dead people.
She goes about the whole thing in a pragmatic and business-like manner, and it is how she makes her living. When parents of a missing teenager don't know what to do anymore or when a crime is suspected but a body to prove it can not be found, she is called in as a last resort; sometimes by grieving relatives or their attorneys, sometimes by the police themselves. Since she can also tell the cause of death by "tuning in" to the deceased person once she's found them, she is asked sometimes to help clear a mysterious cause of death or when someone has apparently committed suicide but their nearest and dearest are not convinced.

Thankfully, the whole paranormal bit is very subdued; there is no strange lights flickering or weird noises to be heard, but the everyday life descriptions of Harper Connelly and everyone else in the book has actually a very normal and real feel to it.

In this story, Harper is called in to find a missing teenage girl, whose boyfriend apparently committed suicide at the same time of her disappearing. She finds the body of the girl, finds out that the boy was shot, and sets in motion a chain of events and more killings that have her and her brother (who accompanies her everywhere, assisting with both the business and the practical parts of her job) entangled deeper in the small town's intrigues and family feuds than they ever wished for.

They can not leave the town; Tolliver (the brother) is arrested under false pretense, and Harper's own life is threatened more than once before the pair finally manage to solve the case in one big show-down (incidentally while a thunderstorm is going on).

Although a lot of what happens is rather foreseeable, the book has its gripping moments and is not without tension - it is just not my cup of tea and I don't think I would have stuck to reading it, had the paranormal bit been more pronounced.
But it wasn't, and I wanted to know the outcome of this whodunnit, and will read the other two books from the same series my mother-in-law sent as part of my birthday parcel; although I am not going to look to obtain any more.

What I generally dislike is a job done half-heartedly, and you can tell the editor was a bit slack; without actively looking for them, I found at least four mistakes in the book that are not down to typesetting or printing errors and should have been spotted & corrected by a good editor:
One of the characters is introduced to us as having blue eyes, and two pages further on, they are suddenly brown; the dead teenager who has apparently commited suicide is named Dell and is suddenly Dale before having his proper name given back to him; Harper's and Tolliver's aunt and uncle are Iona and Hank until later in the book where Hank turns into Will without any explanation, and the sister of the dead boy (who is very much alive herself) is first 16, then 17, and then 16 again without the story actually jumping back and forth in time.
On the back of the book, the heroine's surname is spelled Connolly, while in the book, she is Ms. Connelly - now, that's a typesetting error, but all the others aren't.

I think that's enough complaining done for today - if you are into paranormal mysteries, you will possibly be a bit disappointed that there isn't more of a spook factor to the book; if you're not (like myself), the book makes good company for travelling without demanding too much attention, so that you won't miss your stop :-)


  1. Its sounds like you are drawn to plot in a book?
    Wondering if the central character in this was not strong enough to carry the story. I guess that is what is so central to very successful mysteries like the Sherlock Holmes series, Holmes is more interesting than any of his clients could ever be! (And Watson more normal).

  2. Julie, the heroine is a strong character and portrayed in a way that makes me both understand and like her; it is just that I am not really into the whole paranormal stuff, and have not been for a long time after a brief phase of reading Anne Rice's Vampire series in the mid-1990s and having loved ghost stories in my pre-teens.
    What I like in a book is descriptive atmosphere and credible characters that seem to be alive. If that fits, the actual plot does not have to be super-elaborate, although it is nice to be surprised and still find the explanations plausible.