May 29, 2017

ARC Review--A Grave Calling by Wendy Roberts

There had been no attempt to bury the dead girl, naked except for the white ribbon tied to her wrist

Twenty-five-year-old Julie Hall has a unique ability: when she takes up a dowsing rod, she finds not water but bodies. To Julie, it's a curse, not a gift, and one she rarely uses—she prefers her quiet life in a trailer, with her grandfather and her dog for company. But when FBI agent Garrett Pierce shows up at her door seeking help with a case, she has no choice but to assist with their search.

Three girls are still missing. The killer is still out there. As bodies are discovered and more girls disappear, the case becomes almost more than Julie can bear. And when the killer turns his sights toward her, even her growing relationship with the protective Agent Garrett may not be enough to save her.

I received this eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Wendy Roberts was one of my first paranormal mystery writers, her series Ghostdusters Mysteries was an instant favorite, so I was excited to try out her newest series beginning with A Grave Calling. And much like her previous series, we once again find a heroine who has a unique ability. But this time, instead of talking to ghosts, Julie finds dead bodies with her dowsing rods.

Julie was quite the unique character. I’ve read many different kinds of books over the years, but I can’t remember ever reading about a character who seems so broken. Julie has had a rough life, but she makes do.  She lives in her own little trailer on her grandfather’s property and has a lovable pooch and a steady boyfriend. Things are going good, until the day Agent Garrett Pierce knocks on her door asking for her help in finding a missing body. He’s heard that Julie has special abilities with her dowsing rods and would like her to assist with an ongoing case involving missing girls turning up dead and then not being able to find the bodies right away.

One missing girl turns into two, then three, and then we begin to realize how dangerous this situation is! The added element of danger really added some spice to this one. It’s not your typical cozy mystery, which I always found odd calling a murder mystery cozy! Whether it involves a hardcore detective or just your average Jane, ignoring her superpower of course, murder never seems like a “cozy” kind of mystery. Lol.

I enjoyed the added balance we got with Julie’s normal life and the mystery case, she becomes deeply entangled into the case as Garrett is constantly bringing her back in to find yet another body. Julie tries to cling to her life, but soon all those things are taken away from her the more she’s involved with her case. She loses her job, she’s betrayed by the remaining people she loves and soon she even must leave behind her grandfather and dog for a while to be in protective custody.

You would think with all that going on there wouldn’t be time for romance, but there is! Even with the description I almost didn’t expect Julie and Garrett to start a relationship after some time. Largely due to the age difference. Yeah, I know, it’s weird to be weirded out by that. But let me explain, the vast majority of books I’ve read usually have the “relationship” characters at or around the same age. If there’s an age difference I really don’t think it’s ever topped 10 years. Garrett and Julie are 20 years apart at least. And I don’t know it just felt weird, my brain was thinking that when Garrett was a legal adult of 21, Julie was just being born! And add to the fact that Julie never knew who her father was, my brain went down that road and thought he could be your dad!! Spoiler, he’s not. But yeah, while I did like the relationship in some aspect I was still always reminded—by the characters themselves—that there was a huge age difference between them and yeah, it weirded me out just a bit. But now that I’ve read a 20 year age difference romance maybe I will be able to get used to it for future reads. (And on a side note, yeah I get that the vampires are some centuries years older than the other human, that’s a whole other issue up for debate at another time!)

The ending is what totally blew me away! I was convinced I had this mystery down pat! I knew who did it! I didn’t know why exactly, but that usually comes along after the bad guy is caught! And let me tell you, things get really, really intense in these last few chapters (as I can’t give page numbers or even an accurate guess as to how much “towards the end”). But I was wrong you guys!! So wrong! Did not see this bad guy reveal coming at all!! I both love and hate when that happens. Because while shocking, I felt like this came out of left field. And the reasoning? (Note here, things will start to be worded oddly as I avoid identifying the serial killer’s sex.) Why did the killer do all the things that were done? We don’t know. A serial killer is a serial killer.

I didn’t like that. There was methodology to the things that were done. The killer left little “parting gifts” with the bodies. Why? Why only young teenage girls? They weren’t being molested or anything like that, so that’s not a factor. It just didn’t make sense to me. And later on, looking at other past victims who are in no way, shape, or form teenage girls just made me all the more confused! I feel like that if there’s going to be a methodological serial killer, there has to be a reason for why the killing is being done in the way it’s done, the victims that are chosen…why why why?! You can see how this is driving me a little nuts, right? I don’t like that we didn’t get any of those answers when all was said and done. It almost defeats the purpose if we don’t know what was driving the serial killer in their killing ways, what’s the point of the mystery at the end of the day?

And let me tell you, writing in such vague terms and sentences was hard!  I had to go back and re-read this last part and revise what I had written! LOL!

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It was very mysterious and creepy in some ways as we watch the killer set Julie in their sights. It was freaky!! My heart was racing through several moments towards the end. But then the reveal? And its aftermath? Kind of disappointing without any explanation whatsoever. If you enjoy a good mystery with an added touch of paranormal in way of psychic powers, then I would still highly recommend this one. Just don’t expect answers in regard to the serial killer’s motives.

Overall Rating 4/5 stars

A Grave Calling releases June 5, 2017

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