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Grave Surprise [Hardcover]

Charlaine Harris
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 26 2006 Harper Connelly Mystery (Book 2)
Charlaine Harris is already a star and a New York Times bestseller with her vampire mysteries starring Sookie Stackhouse and her Lily Bard mysteries. This second installment to her new supernatural mystery series might just be her biggest hit yet. Grave Sight's Harper Connelly is back, and her ability to find the dead and see their last moments is in higher demand than ever...

A college class gets more than it bargained for when Harper gives a demonstration of her uncanny talent. Instead of just finding one body in an old grave, she finds two: the original occupant and a recently deceased girl whom Harper had tried, and failed, to find two years previously. To dispel suspicions about her own innocence, Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer-only to find yet another body in the same grave.

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From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Harris's winning second supernatural caper to feature Harper Connelly (after 2005's Grave Sight), a skeptical anthropology professor, Clyde Nunley, tests Harper's gift of clairvoyance in a historic Memphis cemetery, where Harper correctly senses a fresh corpse in the wrong grave. Strangely, the body turns out to be a missing 12-year-old girl, Tabitha Morgenstern, whom Harper failed to locate in Nashville on a case two years earlier. The hotel suite of Harper and her manager and stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, both of whom fall under suspicion, becomes a magnet for a medley of amusing characters, including Memphis cops, Tabitha's assorted relatives and a drunken Clyde Nunley, who, shortly after accusing Harper of fraud, is found dead in the same grave as Tabitha. Peppered with the author's trademark deadpan wit, this book should help make Harper and Tolliver as popular as Sookie Stackhouse, the heroine of Harris's vampire mystery series (Definitely Dead, etc.). Author tour. (Sept. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

After Harper Connelly was struck by lightning as a teenager, she developed an unusual ability--she is able to locate bodies and see how the victims died, although she cannot identify the murderers. Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, are at Bingham College doing a demonstration for a class, identifying bodies and causes of death in an old graveyard, when Harper finds the body of Tabitha Morgenstern, a kidnapped young girl she had failed to locate months ago. To clear their names--the police consider Harper and Tolliver suspects in the crime--they set out to find the real killer. Harper and Tolliver are likable, well-developed characters whose unhappy past binds them together as they care for one another and work together. Harper craves normalcy as she wonders whether her talent is a gift or a curse. The supernatural elements are integrated believably into the plot in this engrossing mystery, the second in a series. Sue O'Brien
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The series is still interesting me June 6 2007
Format:Hardcover
Grave Surprise is the 2nd book is Harris' Harper Connelly series about a woman who was struck by lightning as a teenager and can now located bodies and know how they died.

In this book Harper and her stepbrother/buisness partner Tolliver are in Memphis at the request of an anthropology professor. Basically he wants to discredit Harper by having her go through an old cemetary and "read" the deaths that could not possible be known to her before. What they find is the dead body of Tabitha Morgenstern, a young girl they had been hired to find 18 months before but never did.

I enjoyed this book and I did find it to be a little more fleshed out than it's predecessor. Interesting enough to keep me reading the rest of the series as it comes out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK Feb. 3 2010
By J. Scully TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After reading and loving Grave Sight, the first book in Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series, I eagerly dove into Grave Surprise expecting another clever mystery and looking forward to getting to know Harper and Tolliver better. Unfortunately, I didn't really get either out of this second Harper Connelly mystery.

Not to say that I didn't enjoy the story, or that I had any problems with how the characters were portrayed - but I guessed the killer pretty much the moment they were introduced, and we weren't provided with much new information about Harper and Tolliver. Rather than adding to what we already knew about the step-siblings, Grave Surprise merely seemed to recap what we learned about them in the first novel.

Despite the lack of character development, and my quick assumption as to who the killer was, I had no trouble finishing the story and still found it an enjoyable read. However, it does seem that certain aspects of the story (trying to stay spoiler-free here) are heading in a direction that I don't think I'm going to like. As a fan of Harris' writing I may still read An Ice Cold Grave, the third volume in this series to see if I'm correct in my assumptions before I give up on the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable! Aug. 18 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a nice light read.
I enjoyed the characters and storyline. If you liked the first book, you'll like this one.
My main complaint is that the it's a short book. I hate spending $10 for a short novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent April 14 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved this series just as much as the Sookie Stackhouse series!! The story is just as intriging and the characters just as lovable..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  178 reviews
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel Sept. 28 2006
By ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must tell you I didn't quite like Grave Sight, the debut book of this series. But, this sequel, Grave Surprise, fell into place and looks to be another great series for Harris.
Harper and her half-brother Tolliver tried to find Tabitha Morgenstern in the past, and while doing a demonstration in a Memphis cemetery 2 years later, find her in an old grave. The mystery deepens as the police, FBI, and family of the lost girl as well as Harper and Tolliver deal with the mystery of how did the child end up from Nashville to Memphis.
The relationship between Harper and Tolliver is believable, though complex. What I felt in the shadows of the first book was confirmed in this book. The writing is crisp and well paced. The only thing I don't like in any book is longer chapters. But if that is the only minus..no prob.
I will look forward to more in this series.
And the Southern Vampire series we all love.
Grave Surprise is a good read.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Detection July 30 2007
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Grave Surprise (2006) is the second fantasy mystery novel in the Harper Connelly series, following Grave Sight. In the previous volume, the final confrontation and shootout exposes the secrets of almost everybody. Harper and Tolliver are lucky to get out of town alive.

In this novel, Harper is hired to give a demonstration for an occult studies class in a newly documented graveyard in Memphis, Tennessee. The contract is issued by Bingham College for the class of Professor Clyde Nonley. As far as Harper is concerned, the Professor is a professional jerk.

The graveyard is on the grounds of the college and a detailed list of burials and causes of death had been discovered about three months previously. At first, the professor enjoys directing Harper from grave to grave, but her detailed answers to his queries are beginning to upset his preconceptions. Then he directs her to a grave up against the fence around the cemetery.

At first, Harper declares the occupant to be a young girl and the professor gleefully states that she is wrong. Then Harper notices that another set of bones lies in a coffin below the girl's body. Then she suddenly recognizes the identity of the most recent body.

Tabitha Morgenstern had disappeared in Nashville about eighteen months prior to her rediscovery. Harper had been called in a month after the disappearance and had followed every possible lead within the Nashville area before giving up on the case. Maybe the body had been in Memphis even before she had started her search.

In this story, Joel Morgenstern and his first wife were originally from Memphis, but had moved to Nashville during their marriage. Whitney Morgenstern birthed Victor and then died from cancer in Nashville. Two years later, Joel married Diane and she raised her stepson from a baby. Then their daughter Tabitha was born in Nashville.

Since Harper had only known the Morgensterns in Nashville, she is definitely surprised to learn that the family is now living in Memphis. Joel had apparently brought his wife back home about a year ago. Since then, Diane has become pregnant and is expecting a son. She is very close to birthing the baby.

The Morgensterns are very grateful to Harper for finally finding the body of their daughter. They invite Harper and Tolliver over for lunch to share the food offerings from their friends. There Harper meets other members of the family, including Fred Hart, the father of Whitney and Felicia. Of course, both Harper and Tolliver know Felicia Hart as Victor's aunt. They also meet Joel's parents -- Judy and Ben -- and his brother David.

Harper and Victor had previously shared a moment of shared grief in Nashville, so he confides several bits of information with her at the luncheon. Interrupted before he can finish his confession, Harper is pleased that Victor later shows up at the hotel. Unhappily, so does his uncle David, who speaks somewhat coarsely at Harper and gets punched in the stomach by Tolliver.

This story seems to be a setup, for Tabitha had obviously been moved from another grave. Who had instigated the hiring of Harper to read the occupants of the old cemetery? Their only lead, Professor Nonley, is killed shortly after Tabitha's exhumation and then placed in the open grave.

This case reminds Harper of her missing sister Cameron. She had vanished while on her way home from school. Only her backpack had been recovered, despite years of searching by Harper. At least Tabitha's body had been found to provide closure for her parents.

Since this reviewer tends to become absorbed into the story, the conclusion came as a surprise. However, it would seem to be more obvious by hindsight. Harper should have been savvy enough to sense the murderer much earlier from personal contacts. Or maybe the truth is just easier to see after the facts are laid out for inspection. After all, Harper is not able to read the living as well as she does the dead.

One wonders why so many reviewers insist on comparing the author's different series, often to the determent of this series? Often authors start new series to try different ideas and maybe different treatments. So many reviewers of the first book in this series rejected it because of its dissimilarities with prior series. Should the author just keep on writing the same storyline long after the enjoyment has withered away? At least this volume seems to have been accepted so far without cries of dejection from disappointed reviewers.

Highly recommended for Harris fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of esoteric talents, personal development, and slowly budding romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tighter Mystery, Good Read Oct. 3 2006
By Sires - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think Ms. Harris has found her footing with this second mystery in this series. While I enjoyed and recommnended the first book, the mystery was a bit all over the place. However, in this one she has created a tighter mystery that is both a bit ghastly and intriguing. I guessed who before the end but not exactly why.

Harper and Tolliver are interesting characters and I think bringing in Xzylda and Manfred was a very good idea. I hope they appear again in the future. Harris has a way of surprising the reader with who the good guys in the world are.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He spake well who said that graves are the footprints of angels. - Longfellow Jan. 14 2008
By Cherise Everhard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second book in the Harper Connelly Mystery series.

When Harper Connelly was a young girl she was struck by lightning. Since the lightning strike there are several oddities that are now a normal part of her life; weakness in one of her legs, a spider web pattern on her leg, headaches and oh yeah, she can locate dead people. If Harper is in a reasonable distance of a corpse she can find its exact location and see the deceased's final moments.

Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver, travel to Memphis to hold a demonstration of her talents at a very old cemetery whose records have just been located. Professor Nunley brings her out there thinking to prove her a charlatan in front of his class, only to have Harper accurately name the deceased and their causes of death. When she stumbles on a recent burial of a young girl, the professor thinks he has won. But, of course, Harper is right and memories of a case she wasn't able to solve come flooding back when she knows she finally found the poor girls body.

Harper and Tolliver are then the center of a media storm as Harpers gift is scrutinized and the search for the killer begins...

I admit to being a little put off by the unusually close relationship Harper and Tolliver seem to share. I don't know why, maybe it's because I have a brother and if he did half the things that Tolliver does, I'd scream, flee, then vomit... and I am sure the feeling is mutual. During the first book, Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1), I had to repeat "they are step siblings; there is no blood between them." I think half way through this book I finally got over it. Halfway through this book I began to see beyond the "step" label and just see two people who share an intense past and who love and care for one another, deeply.

This was a great follow up to Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1). I was pleased to find the mystery a little more challenging then the first one and found myself flip flopping through the list of suspects. I thought the characters gave the reader an interesting mix of feelings, often times both sympathy and suspect. I already ordered the third book, An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 3), and then went on Charlaine Harris's web site to see when I might be able to get the fourth book. It's safe to say, I am hooked!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I continue to struggle to care about Harper Connelly. But, I'm trying. Oct. 15 2009
By Erin K. Simons - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris picks up the story of her new heroine, Harper Connelly, shortly after the end of Grave Sight (book one). Harper -- a lightning strike survivor who can now locate the dead and see their last moments -- has been called to an old graveyard to do an exhibition for a college professor and his students. But she finds a missing 11-year-old that she's been looking for for 18 months instead. This introduction sets up a mystery with many twists and turns and lots of surprises.

I'm trying to like Harper Connelly, but the deck is kind of stacked against her. I really adore Harris' character Sookie Stackhouse and the books in that series, and the Harper Connelly mysteries are definitely written to tap into that existing audience of readers. But I just don't get drawn into the stories in the same way. I didn't have a hard time putting down Grave Sight. I didn't seek out times to read, just squeezed it in when it was convenient. Thus the three-star rating. It's a solid story, and enough to peak my interest for the third book, Ice Cold Grave, but I'm not in a rush to add it to my collection.
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