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Book review: An Ice Cold Grave

[This is a review of third book of the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris. Although I don't reveal whodunit, my review might spoil some plot points in the earlier books.]

While the first two books of the series, Grave Sight and Grave Surprise, are enjoyable reads, it's the third and fourth books that pack a real punch.

This time, Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver are invited by law enforcement to the small town of Doraville, North Carolina. Six teenage boys have disappeared from the town over the past five years, and the new sheriff has taken over her predecessor's botched investigations and has called Harper in as a last resort, hoping to find their bodies.

The case this time is much heavier than the cases in the previous two books, because this one is about serial murders of children. It is January, and everything about this case is dark and cold; what happened to the victims is particularly awful. As the locals are rocked by the knowledge that an uncaught serial killer is among them, the town is immobilized by an ice storm. (No symbolism there, huh?)

While all this is happening, Harper and Tolliver are struggling with a change in their close personal relationship, which reaches an unexpected, or possibly expected, turning point. And psychic Xylda Bernardo insists on coming to town to help, even though she is seriously ill and near death. She is accompanied by her grandson Manfred, who is determined to help his grandmother do whatever she chooses with what remains of her life.

It's hard to know what more to say in a review that won't spoil you. A lot happens in this one. The details about the murders were actually difficult for me to read about, and Harper's personal journey made me a bit uncomfortable. And yet, during this particular outing, Harper and her usually despised abilities are afforded acceptance and respect, and there is also unexpected joy. Many of the supporting characters are especially enjoyable: the dogged, businesslike sheriff, the elderly couple at the lake house, the grandmother of one of the victims, and of course, Xylda and Manfred Bernardo.

An Ice Cold Grave is the third installment in a four volume series, published in the order below. My review of book four is coming soon.

1. Grave Sight
2. Grave Surprise
3. An Ice Cold Grave
4. Grave Secret

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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