I've been a fan of Harper Connelly and Tolliver Lang since "Grave Secret." To date, Charlaine Harris has not disappointed me. "An Ice Cold Grave" is, in my opinion, the best book of the series. For those of you new to the series, Harper Connelly was struck by lightning at 15. That incident left her with a set of strange illnesses and the ability to find dead bodies and discover their cause of death from reading them. She travels around the country with Tolliver, who was raised as a brother, but is not related by blood working to help find lost people or determine the cause of death.
Doraville, NC--winter's coming. With six missing persons, all of them male and under 20, the grieving townsfolk have nothing to lose when they take up a collection to bring Harper Connelly in to find the young boys.
She finds all six of them pretty quickly at an abandoned property near where one of the boys was lost. All six of the boys from the town are there--as well as two boys missing from other nearby communities. Details Harper gets from reading the remains make her sicker and sadder than any other case she's ever worked--in no small part probably due to her losing her own older sister to an abuductor during high school.
Harper and Tolliver want nothing more than to leave town just as soon as the check for their services is cut. Unfortunately, the Sheriff and the State Bureau of Investigation aren't going to allow that--and an attack on Harper ties them further to the town.
An ice storm is closing in Knott County, NC and a serial killer is on the loose. He's got a particular interest in Harper since she was the one who found his cache of bodies.
"An Ice Cold Grave" is the strongest of Harper Connelly books so far. There's a lot more at stake here--both for the families of the decedents and Harper herself. There's not just implied but actual violence.
In my opinion, this is the best-written of the series. Both Harper and Tolliver have come into their own as characters. We've known them and liked them for a long time, but they now know themselves and what they want as individuals and as a team.
Ms. Harris also does a great job setting the scene. Her writing really does take you there to the NC mountains and a town laid open by grief. She understands this kind of situation and treats it with grace.
The plot kept me reading page after page til the book was done. "An Ice Cold Grave" is a satisfying read that I'd recommend to fans of mysteries, thrillers and paranormal fiction. While you don't have to read "Grave Secret" and "Grave Surprise" to understand this book, it's definitely not a waste of your time to do so.