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An Ice Cold Grave – Charlaine Harris
Ice Cold? Not This Time!
I have already wrote a review on the 2nd book in the series and although I was not overly impressed with that book, I was intrigued enough to move on to the next book especially as I had rented them both from the library at the same time. Unfortunately when I started what I believed to be the first book (Grave Surprise), there were some holes in the story which lead me to believe that it was not in fact the first in the series. On looking online I found that ‘Grave Surprise’ is actually the second in the ‘Harper Connelly’ series. There are four books in this particular series which include;
Grave Sight Grave Surprise An Ice Cold Grave Grave Secret
Not very original titles though they do say never judge a book by its cover (or title in this case!)
This review is on the 3rd book of the series; ‘An Ice Cold Grave’.
Charlaine Harris began publishing her books over twenty-five years ago. Her original novels were mainly based around ghost stories though by the time she started college, she had begun writing both plays and poetry which led to her going towards the mystery genre. In later years, Charlaine started pushing the genre boundaries to appeal to a wider range of readers which led to books such as the ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ series which has now been turned into a popular television series under the name of ‘True Blood’.
To see the full list of her books, visit her website at the following link; http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html
It is always difficult not to give too much away in a synopsis of a book as if you are like me, you will hate a book being ruined before you have even bought it, so I will give away nothing and only outline as much as the back of the book gives away.
This series follows Harper Connely, a young 24 year old woman and her step brother Tolliver.
When Harper was 15, she was struck by lightning. After her brother saved her life, she was able to recover from the experience though her life was never quite the same. Her physical appearance had been altered by a strange red spider web scar which covered parts of her body and her right leg was weakened, though the biggest change was that Harper can now find dead people…
This book takes place a couple of years after the second book and follows Harper and Tolliver (her step brother) as they go to a job in Doraville, North Carolina. Here, Harper is asked to find a missing boy who is believed to be a young runaway though soon it becomes apparent that this boy is not the usual runaway and he is not the only one.
Harper soon finds eight bodies buried in the half frozen ground, though when she tries to leave the town she is attacked and injured. She has no choice but to stay in the own and reluctantly becomes part of the investigation into the serial killer and soon learns more than she wants to about the dark mysteries and secrets hidden in the town.
(Nothing written above is anything more than what is on the back cover – just in my own words!)
****************************** MISSION – THE BEGINNING ******************************
Having only just read the second book in the series, I did have some prior expectations on both the writing style and some unanswered questions which was the main reason for me going on to this next book. Having not read the first book, I found the writing style in the 2nd very uncoordinated and off-putting, though a few pages in to this book I relaxed into the story. Whether it was because I had got used to the style by now or whether it was a story with more flow, I am not sure, though I do know that I started to read this book at a much faster pace and after only a couple of chapters, I felt that I did not want to put the book down.
Unlike the 2nd book in the series, this one seemed to jump straight into some action. I do not mean gun slingers action by any means, though there was no waiting around for the story to pick up pace. There was no real introduction to the story as you would be expected to have known the stories before this, though there are some points where certain things are expressed once again to refresh the memory. This time, though, the story did not become static around these part, but moved at a relaxing yet fast pace. The main story seemed to start almost immediately and soon after this, I was addicted.
Although with the 2nd book I felt that I could read and understand it all without prior knowledge of the characters and background, with this 3rd book I feel that at least the 2nd book does need to be read to completely understand the relationship of the two main characters and their backgrounds. There is no real character explinations of the two main characters, though as it is written from Harpers point of view, we do get even more insight into her character. The lesser characters are all explained well through Harpers own thoughts and feelings so we are able to meet them all as she would which helps the mystery part of the story remain in tact.
******************************** ACTION – THE MIDDLE ********************************
I was reading towards the middle of the book at a fast pace compared to the first and was enjoying every minute. The action and storyline continued to flow smoothly and at a great pace and I had really started to fall into what was happening.
The style seemed a little calmer than in the first book, and although there were still some unnecessary ‘thesaurus used words’, they were not overused this time and fit in nicely with the flow of the text in the main. There were still some points in which I felt that the author could have used more simpler words which would have worked better – mainly in some of the conversation parts, though this was easily overlooked as the story was so exciting to read.
The middle of the story is where things heat up – literally – both within the main mystery part of the story and otherwise. From reading the first book and watching ‘True Blood’ on the television which is derived from Charlaine Harris’ ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ books, I did expect some strong language in parts and some sexual references though within this book, I found the sexual references were taken to the next level. There are a few scenes which are very graphical and took me by surprise even after watching True Blood. If you are the sort of person who doesn’t mind subtle references though shy away from more in-your-face scenes then this is perhaps not a part for you to read. It is all within the flow of the story, fitting in nicely with the storyline, though it is still a surprise nonetheless.
Do I think that this part was written well? I am not overly keen on scenes such as this with too much graphical text – I am certainly not one to shy away from innuendos or subtle scenes in books or films, though I do feel that too much information is not always a good thing. I felt that certain phrases and certain action sequences within this book were too over the top though I had to admit that it did fit in with the characters well and did not stand apart from the story.
As for the language within the book, I felt that apart from those within the centre of the book alongside the graphical images, the language was much calmer and only came along in scenes or conversations they fit in rather than with everyone in the story slotting words in wherever and whenever like in the first book.
This type of language and graphical text seems to be the usually for this author.
*********************** LINKED – THE END ***********************
The action and happenings from the rest of the book flowed easily and quickly into the ending. The pace, if anything, accelerated and threw all its energy into wrapping up the story perfectly. There was a slight feeling of de-ja-vu with the turnaround of events from the previous book though this was much more efficient in bringing the whole story to a close with questions answered, plot twists and realisations in place.
Unlike the previous book, this ending had a number of surprises, some of which I had guessed though some I did not see coming with the cleverly written text throughout the rest of the book. I was certainly left wanting more once I had turned the final page, though unfortunately I will have to wait a week until the final book gets itself to my local library. I might have to order it sooner on Amazon, though, as I am that eager to read on.
I was not sure about how I would feel about this book after the previous one had been a bit of a let down but I am very glad that I read on as this one I simply could not put down. It was full of action, great characterisations and brilliant flowing storylines. There were are few parts which I did not completely enjoy though these minimal parts were overshadowed by the rest of the book which was a hit.
The story is set a year or so after the previous book though again, there is no actual time stamp date within the story so the book remains timeless. The book contains 280 pages which took me only a couple of days to read, even with an energetic two year old in the house.
The flow of the story is much better than the previous book and is fast paced without any large holes in the story line.
The language is much tamer than in the previous book with more words which fit in to the characterisations and descriptions rather than overly long words which stand out of place. There are some ‘adult’ words within the book (see above) though apart from certain areas, this again is more tamer in this book.
There are two main characters within the story who continue through the rest of the series with a couple of recurring characters who show up within part of the story. All the main characters are written extremely well and even the two smaller characters are brought in with some background information – just enough to grow an understanding with them and feel sympathy and empathy towards them.
There are a whole host of smaller characters relevant to the storyline, many of which are written with feeling and some background information relevant to the story without being too wrapped up in their histories. I did find that some of the minor characters did need a little more attention to detail as their characterisations were a little sparse and confusing though in the main they were all written very well. Some of the speech did not seem to match the descriptions of the characters, though I soon got used to this.
I was able to feel even more in tune with the main characters through this book as their characterisations, inner emotions and feelings and background information had built up in the previous book. These characters were so strong that I found myself wanting to read the next book based mainly on them.
There were some surprising developments within the characters both the main ones and the minor ones, though it was more the main ones which effected me. These developments were well explained and reasoned out and followed the story nicely after I got used to it.
Overall, the characters were much stronger and more well developed than in the previous book.
The main genre is that of a mystery which played out really well. There were some small amount of predictable writing though in the main I felt the mystery was written perfectly. There is also a running supernatural theme throughout the story though this is certainly not written in an unbelievable way. There are no vampires running around or werewolves howling at the moon, just the fact that Harper has this supernatural ability which she uses very subtly, though in saying that it is the main focus of the story (not in your face at all though). There are also more slight genres running through the book such as mingled love stories which was a stronger genre in this book than in the previous.
*********************** PRICE AND AVALIABILITY ***********************
Although I rented this book from the library, I did search for the price and found that the RRP is £6.99, though this can be found on Amazon for £2.00 used or £4.34 new. After reading this book I am now considering getting the whole set simply due to the fact that this one was so great.
************************ FINAL WORDS ************************
After the previous book, I did not rate this series very highly both due to the writing style and the see-through story though this book has altered my opinion completely. Throughout the whole book I did not want to stop reading. The twists and turns of the mystery mixed with the relationships of the characters and the storyline as a whole was top class in my opinion. Yes, the style of writing is not perfect though this is easily overlooked in this book and is far better than in the previous one.
I fully recommend reading the series if anything for this book. As of yet, I haven’t read the last book though hopefully soon I will have it in my grasp and will be able to tell you exactly how I feel right to the end.