Book Review: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

Real Murders by Charlaine HarrisTitle: Real Murders
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Aurora Teagarden, Book 1
Publisher: Berkeley
Paperback: 290 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Lawrenceton, Georgia, may be a growing suburb of Atlanta, but it’s still a small town at heart. Librarian Aurora “Roe” Teagarden grew up there and knows more than enough about her fellow townsfolk, including which ones share her interest in the darker side of human nature.

With those fellow crime buffs, Roe belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It’s a harmless pastime – until the night she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal “copycat” killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects – potential victims…

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I’ve been trying to branch out of the Sookie Stackhouse series to see what else Charlaine Harris has to offer — after all, she started out as a mystery writer before she started the paranormal romance stuff, and I loved early Sookie for its wonderful mysteries and plot developments. So far, I have not been disappointed.

The main character, Aurora Teagarden is a librarian who is part of a group that meets occasionally to learn about famous historical murders and discuss them, so when she finds a dead body mimicking a famous murder, the whole group is put under suspicion. Overall, the premise is amazing. I loved how it just keep getting more complicated and dangerous for all the members of the murder club as more people were killed.

Aurora wasn’t my favorite character, however. I just didn’t know what to do with her. She was kind of boring and I hated the love triangle thing between her and the writer and cop. Like, how does such a boring person end up in a love triangle? She wasn’t even properly distressed about it. I felt like a lot of things about her personality didn’t match up. Since she is the main character, it affected my whole reading of the story. The plot itself is quite good and really just a solid mystery, but Aurora annoyed me quite a lot.

With that said, I still enjoyed myself. This is a quick read — the writing is light and easy, and the plot moves along at a steady pace. I’m definitely planning to read the sequels, if only to see if Aurora ever stabilizes as a character, and of course I’m interested to see what problematic situations Harris puts her in next.

I’d recommend this for mystery lovers and/or Harris fans. This is something quick to keep you interested, but definitely not “you must read this before you die!” material.

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Book Review: Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

grave sight by charlaine harrisTitle: Grave Sight
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Harper Connelly, Book 1
Publisher: Berkeley
Paperback: 293 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Harper Connelly has what you might call a strange job: she finds dead people. She can sense the final location of a person who’s passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she’s providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living – but she’s used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. Traveling with her step-brother Tolliver as manager and sometime-bodyguard, she’s become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it’s always urgent – even if the dead can wait forever.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

This is so different from the Sookie series — I love it! I’m hoping that future books keep the tone and don’t turn into straight-up romance novels like the Sookie series kind of did. A sex scene or two is fine, but I don’t want to feel dirty reading what I thought would be a nice thriller/mystery story. Anyway, back to the topic.

It’s refreshing to have a female character as complex as Harper — she has cool powers, a pretty twisted background, can take care of herself, and is yet still fragile and quite dependent. She’s not one of those kick-ass female characters who’s constantly beating people up — she actually has some fragility and problems with insecurities, and it’s beautiful. I really like her relationship with her brother, but I wish that his characterization were a bit more developed; I hope to see that in future books.

In terms of story, this one is quite good. Investigating crimes in small towns is an inherently creepy concept, considering that there are only a few suspects and how knows who could be in on the crime. This is no different, especially since the crime was left to be unsolved for such a long time before they called Harper in. This was a fairly fast read — nothing felt too dragged out, and I mostly enjoyed myself the whole time.

There is a sort of weird teenage-crush thing that goes on in this book where a teen falls in love with Harper’s brother. Nothing inappropriate happens, but it felt like a contrived way to get Harper and her brother to be involved in this character’s life, and I think it could have been done in a way that was far less creepy. It took me out of the story and just made me feel gross and uncomfortable whenever she came up.

Aside from that, this is an entertaining story with interesting characters and Charlaine Harris isn’t a best-selling author for nothing — the woman can write! If you like mysteries, definitely check this one out.

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family.jpgTitle: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10
Publisher: Ace
Hardcover: 311 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry..

My Review:

Dead in the Family starts off a bit darker than the other novels in the series, but considering what happened in the previous novel, I would have been upset if it didn’t. Sookie has lost a lot of her innocence and naivete, and I think this is a good change from the beginning books of the series. After hanging around the vampires and the weres, something had to happen to make her less soft.

From when I first started reading it until it ended, I couldn’t put this book down. What I love about Harris’s books is that they are so well-constructed and developed. There are a lot of things going on, what with the political business concerning the weres, Alcide’s pack adjusting to the new rules, her relationship with Eric, Eric’s maker coming to visit, and the aftermath of the Faery War. Needless to say, it was packed with conflict and problems. The characters are awesome, as always — Claude was particularly hilarious in this novel, and I’m glad we got to see more of Sookie’s telepathic cousin, Hunter.

This book was a lot calmer than the rest — less tension, less conflict. I didn’t mind it at all, because I feel like this is just the calm before the storm. Victor seems to have it out for Sookie and Eric, something different is happening with Bill’s character (not going to say what due to spoilers!), and the fairy situation is finally starting to wrap up — or so it seems. I think the next few books are going to be very interesting and exciting.

Overall Rating: 5/5