Even if Harper Connelly and stepbrother Tolliver Lang are in the business of finding dead bodies, they are just as much into the concerns of ordinary mortals as anyone else.
That they make time, bend over backwards to sustain such a connection, what with her strange career and affinity with the dead, and his vocation as bodyguard and manager to smart but vulnerable Harper, makes the yearning for the sweet domestic joys all the more poignant.
But this is really just the tip of the iceberg for these two.
After the disappearance of Harper’s older sister a few years back, their family was split apart. Their baby sisters were taken in by relatives, who weren’t very fond of the grown up kids, maybe even leery of Harper’s ability, a side-effect of surviving being zapped by lightning.
This ability lets Harper locate dead bodies, though, and sense the dead’s final moments. She and Toliver are on the road most of the year, hired to find missing persons suspected of being dead already, or to get a reading about cause of death.
This time, they stumble upon the body of Tabitha Morgenstern, the 11-year old who they failed to locate almost two years ago, dumped on top of a centuries-old grave.
The coincidence is unacceptable. The police suspects them of foul play and the media picks up the story. What’s more uncomfortable is that the two are again brought into the very unhappy circle of the Morgenstern family.
The situation escalates when another body was found in the grave the following morning. An FBI agent obsessed with Tabitha’s case and a private investigator enter the picture to also question Harper and Tolliver about what they know.
Meantime, the two, especially Harper, in the middle of another crisis, continue to dream of buying a house, maybe near Texas, where they can be near their sisters, who even if they don’t wish to have anything to do with their older siblings are, nonetheless, much loved by Harper and Tolliver.
This is why I gave this book 5 stars this time. Because as fun as the mystery was, it’s the people I really follow. I say people; because characters as well fleshed out as what we find in this latest mystery series by Charlaine Harris could only transform into persons we care about, or hate, or dismiss with every turning of the page.
The people are edgy, troubled, damaged, with secrets as often as not, but trying or failing to get by just like anyone else. Meeting them is like watching one of those short, tremendously powerful short films on the Hallmark Channel, in which the emotions of the present, the hopes and fears of the past compress into a few short minutes to convey in one blinding glimpse the future .
With a few pages, we get glimpses of lifetimes.
This power is akin to the ghost, the first detached paranormal entity Harper and Tolliver encounter in their lives, a side mystery that got entangled up in the mystery of the missing little girl. This ghost was powerful enough to manifest as a solid body; it showed up in one really creepy scene to save Harper from falling into his open grave.
Eventually, they told it to seek peace, not justice, so it moved on…. to wherever.
But we readers are not seeking justice, nor peace. So we remain haunted, until the next in the series comes along, and maybe not even then.