Grave Secret

Grave Secret is the fourth and final installment in the Harper Connelly Mysteries, written by Charlaine Harris. On the whole, this series has provided interesting, quick reads that I didn't love but I certainly wouldn't dissuade anyone from picking up and reading. Grave Secret focuses on a case that hits home for Harper and Tolliver in unexpected ways. A wealthy Texas ranch woman likes weird and interesting things, and so invites Harper to do a reading at the family cemetery... only to meet with knowledge of events that happened eight years prior that complicates the lives of her and her family. Her father didn't die peacefully, but instead had a snake thrown at him, causing his heart attack... and his caretaker appears to have died from complications following childbirth (though no one seems to have known she was pregnant). Given that she invited a woman who could describe causes of death, I think it's fair to say that this woman had it coming. As did anyone else in the family if they had anything to do with these past events.

Surely this isn't Harper and Tolliver's problem, right? Well, let's just say it plays a greater role in their lives when Tolliver gets shot and Harper finds herself getting death threats, and they have a sneaking suspicion that this case is at the center of their issues. Top it off, they're having their own family complications as Tolliver's dad, Matthew, has gotten out of jail and wants to reconnect with his sons. This filial love doesn't quite extend to Harper, his step-daughter, and there's only a mild interest in his real daughters, adopted by his sister-in-law and her husband. Originally, Harper and Tolliver had been glad to see their half-sisters, but now they're beginning to fear for everyone as a strange tip on a Cameron sighting has Harper confused... and concerned that somehow, they're coming to the end of their search for what happened to her abducted sister (as strangely enough, she was abducted shortly after the events in question for the Texas ranch family).

This is, clearly, the final installment in this series and fans who worry about loose ends shouldn't have too much to fear. All questions are answered by the end of the novel, though not necessarily to intense satisfaction. I can't express surprise, as I realized halfway through the book where the chips would fall, but I am still somewhat disappointed. It is, at least, a somewhat action-packed book, with the shooting at the beginning getting the tension bar set high from the get-go. The ending had a bit of fizzle as we solve one case then move on to deal with another. Very British murder mystery with the long descriptions and accusations. Still, I suppose this particular plotline wasn't going to take Charlaine Harris through multiple sequels and I'm impressed she got to four books instead of three, so that's something. At least the events in this book didn't cause the same discomfort as the events from An Ice Cold Grave, though I think it's safe to say that Tolliver and Harper have the *worst family ever.* I read the whole series in about a week, so if you're looking for something quick to breeze through and you've enjoyed other Charlaine Harris books, this should fit the bill.

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