Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly series keeps getting better. An Ice Cold Grave is the third (and most recently published) book in the series. I had some doubts in the beginning, but the characters are still shaping up very nicely. Harper and Manfred are still the most interesting characters, though, I suspect that Tolliver will be fleshed out even more in subsequent books. Past that, I can’t really comment further on character development without delving into spoilers.
Consider this a spoiler warning!!
Harris originally presented Harper and Tolliver as brother and sister, but not blood relatives. Harper’s mom married Tolliver’s dad when they were teens, and they were brought up as siblings for a few years until they could get out of the house (the home situation was horrendous…the parents were drug addicts, alcoholics, etc). In the book previous to this one, Harper admits to herself that she’s got feelings for Tolliver, who she’s still having trouble not thinking of as her brother. In this one, they get together. Yeah. Not-really brother on not-really sister sex scenes. The weird factor is cranked up to about a nine for me here. The situation as presented is believable, but the fact that they considered each other siblings for so long has got me a little tiny bit icked out. The characters are a bit weirded out by it, too, and Harris is dealing with that… but still… it’s a little… icky.
OK, back to non-spoilery content.
The plot improved again, also. The mystery wasn’t *quite* as see-through as previous ones. I still had it pretty much figured out by half to two-thirds through the book.
I’m beginning to think that Harris’ real talent is in character and universe development. That seems to be the big difference between the Sookie and Harper series – the Harper books are hinged on a mystery to be solved, while the Sookie books are essentially about Sookie’s development as a person in an extremely interesting universe of characters.
As mentioned, Ice Cold Grave is the last of the three currently published Harper Connelly books. To this point, if someone asked if I’d recommend the series, I’d say yes with some reservations. These are good if you’re looking for a quick, beach-read type book, but they’re no where near as enchanting as the Sookie books.