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Posts Tagged ‘charlaine harris’

Source: Gift

Over the summer, my husband and I started watching the Aurora Teagarden movies with Candace Cameron Bure on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. After watching four or five of the movies, I told my husband that I wanted to start reading the books, and he surprised me with the first two in one volume, and I after I blew through that book, he bought me the next two in the series, and then for my birthday, he bought me the last six books in the series. I’m slowly making my way through them now.

Since they are mysteries, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, so I’ll share the summaries from the back of the book, and then my thoughts on each and how they compare to the movies.

Book 1: Real Murders

Georgia librarian Aurora “Roe” Teagarden belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. But after she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss, Roe has to uncover the person behind a terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects — or potential victims…

My thoughts: The Aurora Teagarden from the book series is NOTHING like Candace Cameron Bure’s Aurora Teagarden in looks or personality. The books are told from the first person POV, so readers really get to know Aurora. She is very opinionated about the people in her small town of Lawrenceton, a suburb of Atlanta, and a lot of what she thinks isn’t nice. She feels real, though, which is a good thing, considering that there are 10 books in the series and she’s the main character. Of course, there are many times when she does things (or doesn’t do them) that make me want to shake some sense into her, but she’s an amateur sleuth after all.

As someone who grew up watching true crime documentaries and reading true crime books, it didn’t seem odd to me that Aurora was interested in famous murders and was part of a group that discussed unsolved murders and offered up their own theories. But many people in town, including Roe’s mother, Aida, think it’s a bit weird. (And here I am reading the book and thinking that I’d love to be in a group like Real Murders!)

A lot of characters are introduced in this book, mostly members of the club, and it’s a bit hard to keep track of them all at first, but it made sense because more characters = more suspects. All of the characters were interesting and seemed like people you really might encounter in a small town. I liked how Harris threw in some romantic tension with police officer Arthur Smith and mystery writer Robin Crusoe. I thought the murders were pretty clever (I haven’t seen the Hallmark adaptation of this book yet, and I am very curious how or if they will include the Lizzie Borden-esque crime), and I love that I hadn’t figured out whodunit early on. I don’t think there’s anything too gruesome here for readers with weak stomachs.

Book 2: A Bone to Pick

When a deceased acquaintance names Roe as heir to a substantial estate, which includes money, jewelry, and a house — complete with a skull hidden in the window seat — Roe concludes that the elderly woman has purposely left her a murder to solve. She must identify the victim and figure out which one of Jane’s ordinary-seeming neighbors is a murderer — without putting herself in deadly danger…

My thoughts: Roe is really lucky to inherit a house and a boatload of money at a time when she’s not entirely happy with her life. She’s suffered a breakup and gets the news about her windfall just as she’s embarking on a new relationship. There’s not as much action in this book, as there aren’t multiple crimes being committed as the story moves along, but a crime that has already occurred and Roe is forced to put the pieces of the mystery together when the one person who knows all the details is dead. Still, I thought the story was clever, and I enjoyed seeing how Roe evolves from the first book into the second, especially as she navigates the minefield in the police department that is her ex-boyfriend’s new wife. Their interactions were entertaining, more so than in the movies, where Roe’s relationship with Arthur wasn’t as big a deal as in the books. Again, I didn’t figure out the mystery early on, which made the book more enjoyable.

Source: Gift

Book 3: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse

Aurora “Roe” Tegarden had always worked for a living, until an unexpected legacy gave her the money to quit her librarian job. Now, with time on her hands, she decides to try selling real estate. Her mother, after all, is Lawrenceton’s premier real estate agent, giving Roe a head start on this new career.

But at her first house showing, Roe discovers the naked corpse of a rival broker in the master bedroom. To make matters worse, one of her mother’s colleagues has fallen under suspicion.

Roe, a natural-born sleuth, is determined to find out who is responsible. And when a second body is found in another house for sale, it becomes obvious that there is a very cool killer at large in Lawrenceton, one who knows a great deal about real estate — and maybe too much about Roe…

My thoughts: This installment had more action and more romantic tension, as Roe is still dating the same man from the previous book when she meets Martin Bartell when she is showing him the home that becomes the first murder scene. It’s lust at first sight for them, but thankfully, Harris shows about as much of their bedroom activities as she does the actual murders, which is to say not very much. As in the previous two books, Harris does a great job building on Roe’s character and introducing new and interesting characters, and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the murder mystery. Roe’s rocky relationship with the police and her uncanny ability to get into some sticky situations make for an entertaining read.

Books versus movies: The movies are quite different from the books, which makes it easy to enjoy both of them simultaneously. The characters are a lot different in the movie adaptations. For instance, Phillip is Roe’s much younger half-brother in the books but her college-age cousin in the movies, and she is best friends with reporter Sally Allison in the movies, but their friendship doesn’t seem as close in the books.

I read book 2, A Bone to Pick, before seeing the movie, and the movie was so different that I honestly wasn’t sure how it would play out. Some of the differences stem from the fact that the book series was published beginning in the 1990s, and there is a lot of technology (namely smartphones and easy internet searching) that are in the movies but not in the books. I saw the movie adaptation of book 3, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, before reading the book, and while the murderer was the same as in the movie, the details of the crime and how the murderer is revealed are completely different, so I was able to still enjoy the book.

Overall, I would say the books are better than the movies (of course) because they are more detailed and there are more layers to the mysteries and the characters, but I think the movies are a lot of fun and look forward to seeing them all. Have any of you read the books and/or watched the movies? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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