Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grave Sight

Grave Sight, by Charlaine Harris, is one of my "Dam" books.  That sounds pretty strange so a bit of explanation is in order.  The summer before last found me on a fantastic vacation trip to Alaska, my family the guests of my parents as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  About half the trip was an overland scenic vacation by bus and train but the other half was a beautiful cruise to see the glaciers, whales, etc.  While on the boat, we each had some extra "cruise $$" to spend as part of the overall cruise package.  It was pretty cool to have "free" money to spend, even though we knew we had really already paid for the opportunity to spend that money.  The only stipulation was that we had to spend it aboard ship.  Well...I'm not all that big on most of the stuff they were selling on board but I did find one tiny rack of books in a small shop so I spent my $$ on buying one copy of just about everything they had, whether it looked interesting or not.  Now as I think back, I can never remember the name of that cruise ship but it was something like "Rotterdam" or "Cramerdam" or "Ashtondam."  I have to get out my free t-shirt to get the exact name.  Usually, the only part I'm sure of is the "dam" part so ever since then I call these particular books my "dam" books.

So when I was looking for a mystery to read this week, I chose Grave Sight, one of the more interesting-looking "dam" books.  Charlaine Harris is a prolific writer and seems to be coming out with a new novel every 3-4 months.  She is most famous for her "Southern Vampire" series featuring Sookie Stackhouse.  Unlike most readers of Grave Sight, I had never read a Sookie book so didn't have any preconceived notions of the author's style.  Apparently many readers compare Harper Connelly, the heroine of the "Grave" books to Sookie.  From my understanding, they are quite different characters and such comparisons should be avoided.

This is the first book of the series and as such serves primarily to introduce the reader to Harper as well as her step brother, Tolliver.  Harper has a special ability that she acquired as a girl when she was struck by lightning: she can find dead people, sort of by honing in on them as if using a geiger counter.  Not only can she find them but she can "see" how they died.  Sounds like a cool way for a writer to develop a series of books, just as Ms Harris has done.  In the main story, Harper and Tolliver travel to a small town in Arkansas to find a missing teenage girl.  She does so but that only leads to further complications from the local townsfolk.  The plot becomes a more traditional murder mystery as Harper and Tolliver delve into just what happened in that town.

The author seems to have a real knack for writing characters with troublesome backgrounds.  In Harper's case, the lightning incident caused emotional trauma; she has an understandable phobia of thunderstorms and when added to her parents' irresponsibility (alcohol and drug abuse and sexual deviancy) she must now cope with a number of emotional challenges as she lives her day-to-day life.  She disguises her emotional instability with a tough/self-confidant outer shell but when that breaks down she relies heavily on her step brother for support.  When taken as a whole, this is an interesting pair of characters and I suspect the popularity of these books will continue to grow.  Having said that, I found the overall novel to be enjoyable but not really awesome.  The actual mystery seemed uninspired and the ultimate solution predictable.  I do have the second book in this series as well (also a "Dam" book) so I will read that one before I determine if I will continue the series.

Another novel read, so that means another short story complete as well.  "Charity Begins at Home" is my latest read in Jeffrey Archer's Cat O'Nine Tales collection and is another good one.  This time the criminal is an intelligent, reserved man, who has lived an honest life for more than 50 years.  But when presented with an opportunity to skim money from charitable donations, and launder the money through gambling, he can't resist the easy pickins.  He even strategically gets caught and does 18 months in prison in order to throw off suspician of the greater crime.  A delightful story to read as long as you are OK with an ending where the criminal gets away with it.

Next up: Shadow's Edge, the second novel in the "Night Angel" trilogy by Brent Weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire