‘Grave Surprise’ by Charlaine Harris digs into the cold case of a missing child and is like an Agatha Christie mystery mashed with supernatural elements. I would’ve liked to say Christie mixed with Stephen King, but it’s nowhere close to the kind of dread, tension, terror some of his horror stories build. Illustrated by Ilias Kyriazis, ‘Grave Surprise’ has some really bright and loud coloring by Tamra Bonvillain.
The story’s protagonist is a young woman named Harper Connelly who has the gift of ‘finding’ dead people. She can sense if there’s a dead body around and can even tell how they lost their life if she is close enough to their remains. When a professor invites Harper to a recently discovered cemetery, she is shocked to sense a child’s body in an old grave – because it belongs to a missing girl whose family had recently hired Harper to help them. Co-incidence or conspiracy? The plot navigates through multiple twists and turns until the reader finds out what happened to the lost child.
The artwork brings to life Harris’ work, and it feels like you are watching a television drama, with a whole bunch of characters walking in and out through the runtime. ‘Grave Surprise’ felt a lot like a Christie mystery for the sheer fact that there were multiple suspects in the missing girl, all of them – family members. While the pace is pretty gripping for the first half of the story, things start to get a little tedious in the second-half.
Since there are so many characters packed into one plot, everybody’s personality is sketched out to hastily, except for primary leads Connelly and her brother/manager Lang. For example, Joel Morgenstern is the father of the child and one of the suspects, all the author has to say about him is – he is a nice charming man who is a total hit with the ladies. There isn’t enough story to any of the supporting members to care about what they do. And those used to reading mysteries will figure out who the culprit is soon enough, without the clues becoming blatantly obvious towards the end to bring the story to a close.
Overall, it’s a decent read for the weekend. It’s a 3/5 from me.