Tuesday, September 8, 2009
More Dark Stories
Charlaine Harris is a little bit famous now, since her Sookie Stackhouse books were picked up by HBO and turned into True Blood. But she writes several series. There was the librarian, Aurora Teagarden, who started stumbling across corpses when her murder club got a little more life experience than they wanted. Then the house cleaner, Lily Bard, who also solved mysteries but more importantly made a life shadowed by a horrific experience that she never quite walked away from. The Sookie books were actually a bit lighter, despite all the vampires and killing. Now she alternates the Sookie books with the Harper Connelly books, and these are dark as well. Harper has a tough past, losing her sister, dealing with drug addict parents, and getting struck by lightning. But she gained something as well; a courageous heart, compassionate acts, and an ability to sense the dead. She turns this last talent into an unusual occupation -- she can find a body for you, or tell you what caused the death of a body you've found.
But sometimes the secrets that death holds cause the living to twist and turn, and it is these dangerous situations that the stories take place. I've been re-reading the three books in the series in anticipation of the next (and probably last) book. I mistimed things, since now I have to wait a month or two, but I enjoyed spending the time with Harper even if she spends it in tough places. The complicated lives and secrets of the small town Sarne in Grave Sight which would puzzle even Yoknapatawpha residents, the grief of a family who wanted to know the fate of their daughter but desperately hoped it wouldn't fall under Harper's expertise in Grave Secrets, and finally the all-out horror of a serial killer preying on a small community's boys in An Ice Gold Grave, all of these stories are hard and sad, but Harper confronts them with common sense, decency, and a determination to use her gift and accept her life as she makes it. I'm hoping that the new book steps back from the grisly intensity of the last, but I'm looking forward to seeing what place Harper makes for herself. A