Recently a friend gave me a passel of books, including some that had been on my wish list for ages. (Thanks, friend!) Right now I’m reading the Charlaine Harris Grave series and I have a few observations. Most of them boil down to wondering what kind of super-freak she must be in real life. She looks so sweet in her author photo.
She has a series about vampires, the True Blood set. There’s a few about Shakespeare's Landlord, a housekeeper who solves mysteries and becomes a private eye. Aurora Teagarden is a small-town librarian who solves mysteries. And the set I’m reading, the Harper Connelly series is about a woman who was struck by lightening and can tell where dead people are and how they died.
I’m used to the darker genres, the shape shifters and vampires and were-whatnots. I’m not disturbed by mysteries where half the population of a small town gets murdered in any given year, although I’ve never seen a book address that issue as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer did in multiple episodes. But, Harris? That woman has got to have a freak-streak a mile wide.
She seems to have a small issue with sex. That housekeeper in the Shakespeare series? Well, she was brutally raped and attacked and is covered with scars (mentally and literally) from the event. She won’t ever recover from that damage. True Blood? People are beguiled into sex, used as pets, blood-bound into relationships. Aurora Teagarden, a librarian spinster, finds love, has sex, and her husband dies.
The Grave series, in a way, is more disturbing than any of the other sets. I’m fascinated by Harper’s ability to find bodies, but her personal life is much weirder than her profession. She’s accompanied by her stepbrother/manager, Tolliver. They survived a brutal upbringing together, with Tolliver’s brother, Harper’s sister, and their two younger mutual sisters. Harper and Tolliver are together non-stop for years and then it gets a little Flowers in The Attic-y. They aren’t technically brother and sister, but it’s the same as if Marsha and Greg Brady decided to get married. And she writes about their sex acts like Siri replaced all the dirty words with technical ones. I grew up on a steady diet of Judith Krantz love scenes and these scenes are awful and jarring and feel like they belong in a different book all together. She really would have done better to say, “They had sex. It was great.” The books are good, too, when you skip quickly past those sections, humming tunelessly to distract yourself.
I’m not sure I thought I would ever spend a whole post talking about weird sex scenes or wondering whether Charlaine Harris has a good therapist, but here you go. I recommend any of the series sets, but be forewarned that she has a much harder time writing about love than she does death.