This is Book One of the Harper Connelly mystery series, by the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series.
Harper Connelly, aged 24, was struck by lightning when she was 15, and ever since then has been able to sense the location of dead people and also see how they died (but not who killed them). Consequently, she and her 27 year old stepbrother, Tolliver Lang (acting as manager and assistant), hire themselves out to help find missing persons. As Harper explains:
“The way I see it, I’m providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living … I couldn’t do it alone – that’s why my stepbrother Tolliver travels with me, as my manager and, sometimes, bodyguard. It’s an unpredictable work schedule: we live out of hotels, ready to hit the road at any time. Because for the living it’s always urgent – even if the dead can wait forever…”
In this book, Harper and Tolliver go to the small town of Sarne, Arkansas, to find a missing teenaged girl, lost about the same time as her boyfriend, whose body was found and deemed a suicide. The mother of the boy hires Harper so it won’t seem as if she doesn’t care about her son’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks girlfriend. But the more answers Harper and Tolliver unearth [double entendre], the more they are subjected to murder threats themselves.
Evaluation: This is a pleasant enough mystery, though it lacks the energy and charm of the Sookie Stackhouse books. Still, the author has an unerring eye for people’s quirks, insecurities, and insincerities, as well as an insistence on the complexity of motivations by giving even evil characters their moments of kindness.
Published by Berkley Hardcover, 2005