Science fiction and fantasy
by Charlaine Harris
Harper and Tolliver arrive in the small town of Sarne to find a missing teenager. But the corpse of Teenie Hopkins is only the latest in a series of suspicious deaths. Sarne is the kind of place where everyone is connected with everyone else, so untangling the threads of motives and loyalties is especially complicated. What's more, the killer on the loose doesn't seem to have finished making dead bodies.
Harper and Tolliver are keen to leave town once they've done the work they were hired for, but in spite of their efforts to remain uninvolved they're embroiled in the murder investigation. If they try to get out they risk offending the law enforcement officers they rely on for their bread and butter work. But someone doesn't seem to want to let them ever get out. When Tolliver gets imprisoned on bogus charges the race is on for Harper to solve the case before someone silences her and her brother for knowing too much.
This is much more of a murder mystery with subtle supernatural elements than an overtly supernatural mystery with hints of a detective story. There's a romantic aspect when Harper meets someone in the local police, but it's very underplayed. The story is told in a snappy style that reads fast, with sassy black humour to leaven the grim graveyard atmosphere with all its morgue-centred action. Harper and Tolliver are invigorating characters. Their world is as dark as can be, and they usually see people at their worst whether alive or dead, but they still manage to have a lust for life and a spirit that makes them magnetic. Harper is smart, but she depends on her brother a lot, and physically she has been left weakened by the lightning strike. So she isn't one of those high-kicking urban fantasy superheroines, she's more of a character you can believe in.
The author offers us tantalising hints about their sister Cameron, missing presumed dead, to set up the rest of the series. Luckily Harper and her family are dark and interesting enough to make you want to bite that hook and read on.
25th February 2011
If you like this, try:Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
A woman who raises zombies is asked to investigate a serial killer who targets bloodsuckers. The first Anita Blake book.
The Sweet Scent Of Blood by Suzanne McLeod
A Sidhe fae takes on a host of supernatural threats in this modern murder mystery. The first book in the Spellcrackers.com series.
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Tattooed warrior Maxine Kiss is going to need more than a scary look to keep the demons at bay. Luckily her ink has a life of its own.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Charlaine Harris