Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Fear can make you do crazy stuff.”
Julie Hall has a unique gift or curse depending on how you look at it. She is able to locate the deceased with dowsing rods. Repeatedly punished for this gift as a child, Julie now chooses to live a quiet taking care of her grandfather and dog.
FBI Agent Garrett Pierce needs Julie’s help. Three young women have been kidnapped and the clues are sparse. It looks like a serial killer is working their way through the state and the FBI are worried this is just the beginning.
As Julie and Agent Pierce grow closer to one another and the killer, the killer turns their attention towards Julie. Pierce vows to keep Julie safe but when a grave calls, someone has to answer.
A Grave Calling is the first book in a mystery thriller series by Wendy Roberts. Set in the state of Washington, a young woman finds herself neck deep in a mystery when the FBI asks her to use her special skills to help them find some local girls gone missing. The beginning hooks you effortlessly. An FBI agent appears on a young woman’s doorstep, asking for her help in finding three missing girls. Told in the present tense, we are swept up instantly into the story as Roberts’ simultaneously builds her world and her main character-Julie Hall.
Julie Hall is a loner. A recovering alcoholic, she lives a solitary life in an old trailer with her Rottie-Wookie. Endowed with a dry wit and strong sense of self-perseverance, helping out her grandfather, working at the local convenience store, and the occasional date with her boyfriend is the extent of her social life. Raised by her grandparents after her mother dropped her off for a visit and never returned, Julie learned the hard way to hide her gift and has the scars to show for it. Using her gift is not easy for Julie. It brings back bad memories that Julie prefers to keep buried. She agrees to help the FBI on the condition of anonymity.
An interesting ensemble is introduced early on and cast a long shadow even though most of them are used to elevate and promote the female protagonist. Beyond Julie’s grandpa and the dog, everyone else is simply cannon fodder. The mystery weaves its way through and Robert’s allows us just enough insight into the investigation to keep us intrigued but not overwhelmed. I found the whole concept of dowsing quite interesting as I had never heard of it used in this aspect before. Roberts’ integrates it smoothly into the story, giving readers an impromptu history lesson as we watch Julie use this and other similar methods to find the missing girls
The halfway mark is where the story begins to lose it steam and stumble around. Julie evolves at a steady pace, slowly shedding her protective layers as she grows more comfortable with her gift but it felt at the expense of the storyline itself. She experiences a series of small shocks which are used to primarily to open up a romantic connection between her and Garrett. It’s awkward as their chemistry is almost nonexistent and it’s obvious the connection is more based on two lonely people looking for some comfort. I would have brushed it off to had Robert’s not used another agent to promote jealousy and conflict. There was no purpose for it. I also found the logistics surrounding the reveal of the villain overly melodramatic and rushed. Roberts’ spins you round and round in attempts to misdirect and when you stop, you’re left in shock with quite a few questions at the end.