Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You don’t have to forgive the people who hurt you in order to make peace with your past.”
Julie Hall is adjusting well to her new life She has purchased a new home, her new business is booming, and she is slowly building a relationship with FBI agent Garrett Pierce. When a grieving mother comes to Julie, begging her to find her daughter’s body, Julie reluctantly takes her case. The deeper Julie digs, the more she becomes convinced nothing is what it seems. When information comes back that ties into Julie’s past, she begins to wonder exactly what she will find with her dowsing rods…and if she’s ready to face it.
A Grave Search is the second in Wendy Roberts’ Body of Evidence mystery series. Set in Washington, we are once again dropped back into the life of Julie Hall; a young woman whose unique skills using dowsing rods to find the dead has left her uncomfortably infamous. Picking up after the events in book one, A Grave Secret, Julie sold everything off and left her hometown in an attempt to make a fresh start. She has bought a house, is seeing a therapist, and is in her first serious relationship. She has established a website for her dowsing business. Having done all she could to distance herself from her grandparents, she is shocked when once again someone comes to her door to ask for her help.
As with book one, the main cast is introduced early on to help Roberts set the stage. A young woman was supposedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and never heard from again. Her grieving mother begs Julie find her body so that she may lay her to rest. Julie is stunned to learn that the young woman was not only from her hometown, but Julie went to high school with the supposed killer. As she digs for answers, faces from her past threaten to overwhelm her.
Complex protagonists are my jam and Julie Hall certainly fits the bill. An intriguing combination of vulnerability and willpower that draws you in instantly. She is the underdog you’ll cheer for as she struggles to come into her own after surviving an abusive childhood and numerous betrayals. A recovering alcoholic with severe abandonment issues, she uses her wit, intelligence, and a sense of self-preservation that is innate to abuse survivors to stay on top of her issues with some help from her older FBI boyfriend and her dog, Wookie.
Strong with girl power, fans of Roberts’ books will notice that the females rule the roost with the males definitely taking a backseat cheerleading like roles. The multi-layered mystery intertwines with Julie’s own personal conflicts, finally giving Julie the closure she has needed. The symbolism between Julie’s own feelings of abandonment towards her mother and her latest case is transparent. Julie feels both conflicted and compelled to help this mother find her child; something she wishes her own mother had done. Strong narrative and an energetic investigation hold your attention as Roberts’ builds the tension with intrigue and suspense while keeping readers guessing.
The romance is definitely more established in here. Julie loves Garrett but questions his commitment and their future together. As he is not a part of this investigation, we see them in more casual romantic settings which help to solidify their chemistry with the reader. I was put out by the security cameras. I was also confused as to why Roberts’ spent so much time on verbalizing Julie’s displeasure with Garrett and the cameras but never has her confront Garrett over them. Roberts’ attempts to write it off as it being a struggle between Julie’s independent nature and her subconscious need to be cared for but I didn’t buy it.
The mystery wraps itself up in a dramatic fashion while a subplot that carried over from book one finally grants Julie the answers she has been searching for. Julie allows herself to finally grieve for everyone she has lost over the years and to not only hope for the future but take active steps towards it. I do hope Roberts continues this series. Julie’s evolution is quite illuminating and I look forward to reading more about her and her interesting gift in the future.
Dru’s Book Musings