Desert Isle Keeper
A Beautiful Corpse
I fell completely in love with Harper McClain, Christi Daugherty’s fiery, determined heroine when I read 2018’s The Echo Killing, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the author’s next book featuring this intrepid newspaper reporter ever since. I’m happy to assure fellow fans that A Beautiful Corpse surpassed all of my expectations for a follow-up.
I suppose readers could start Harper’s story here, but you’ll miss out on some stellar character development if you choose to do it that way. My personal recommendation would be to read the first book before picking this one up; that way, you’ll be familiar with Harper’s life before diving in.
A Beautiful Corpse picks up about a year after the end of The Echo Killing. Harper is still working for the newspaper, but she knows it’s only a matter of time before she loses her job. Her employers have been laying people off left and right, and while nothing has been said to Harper directly, she can’t help but think one of the higher ups might be looking for a way to get rid of her. After all, she has gotten into more than a few sticky situations since she first started working for the paper.
One evening, the body of a murdered young woman is discovered – and the victim is someone Harper knows. Natalie is a twenty-four-year-old law student who worked part-time as a bartender to make ends meet. Since Natalie’s workplace is a local bar that Harper frequents, the two women have exchanged smiles and greetings over the past couple of months, and Harper is shocked to learn Natalie has been killed in such a violent, senseless manner.
Natalie’s boyfriend is a person of interest in the police department’s investigation into her murder, but something about this doesn’t feel right to Harper. True, he hasn’t always been on the right side of the law, but he’s cleaned up his act in recent years, and Harper can’t imagine him harming the woman he claims to have loved. So she begins looking into things on her own, and it doesn’t take her long to realize there’s something darker and far more sinister afoot than she ever could have imagined.
Harper is a delightfully spunky and ambitious heroine. Sometimes, her ambition gets in the way of her good sense, but she is slowly learning to think before she acts. I loved this bit of growth in her character arc, since some of her actions in the previous book were deeply disturbing. She still slips up a time or two, but it’s obvious she’s trying hard to learn from her mistakes, and I applauded her progress.
I’ve never visited Savannah in person, but reading this author’s work really makes me want to spend time there. She has managed to strike a nearly perfect balance between the southern charm so many of us associate with the city and the dark, gritty atmosphere it can take on after dark. In some ways, the city Ms. Daugherty writes about so passionately almost feels like a character in the story, and that’s something not all authors are able to pull off.
The mystery surrounding Natalie’s murder is completely wrapped up by the end of the novel, so readers who dislike cliffhanger endings don’t have anything to worry about in that respect. However, I was pleased to see the foundation for book three in this series being laid. I don’t want to say too much about this aspect of the book since that would ruin things for you, but I do want to acknowledge the skill with which the author seems to have mapped out Harper’s story arc.
If you love mysteries with tough, self-sufficient heroines and action that almost never stops, I think you’ll adore A Beautiful Corpse. It’s the kind of book that will keep you glued to the pages until you reach the end, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be waiting on pins and needles for the next installment in this captivating series.