Real Murders

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mystery #1) by Charlaine Harris

So you all know how much I love book sales.

Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.

So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.

I can’t help it, it is an addiction.

This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.

This was during my “I want to be a behavioral scientist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.

I enjoyed the book so much, that I read it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.

I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.

And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?

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Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.

Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.

A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet, a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.

Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.

Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.

Roe can’t find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.

Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.

Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.

Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices  the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.

Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Detective Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.

The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.

Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.

Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.

Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. He talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?

The next night, Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?

Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.

The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.

There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.

Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.

And who will be next and which criminal will they be following next? Jack the Ripper? Ed Gein? The Blackburn Baby Killer?

Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more, along with getting away from his disheveled house. While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over.  The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!

But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.

Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.

Oh no!

She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.

Arthur and his partner, Detective Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.

What?!

Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.

Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.

Who’s next?

Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)

Nah, he’s not a good guy.

But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?

Thoughts After Reading:

I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!

The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.

Read it today!

For more librarian sleuth mysteries, go to Death Threads

For more serial killers, go to Next Victim

For more true crime, go to The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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The Wife

The Wife: A Novel by Alafair Burke

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I am a librarian:

And one of my jobs is to process the new books and finish them to be added to the library. This is dangerous as you know I love reading, and I get first look at everything new.

So as you know, being a book lover I just can’t resist checking the new things out. This was one of them. As I was working on it, I read the synopsis on the jacket and just had to read it.

Plot Synopsis:

Angela met Jason Powell, a brilliant economics professor, while catering a party in the Hamptons. For him it was love at first sight and nothing could keep him from courting her. Angela never understood why he was interested, but this marriage gave her a chance to reboot her life and move her and her son out of her parent’s house.

Six year later: Jason, Angela, and her son are still a family but Jason is hardly ever home. He is now the author of a best-selling, has a huge media footprint, started his own consulting firm, and has become a cultural lightening rod.

For Angela, ever day is a resurrection of her old fears-the fear that her anonymity will be destroyed and that her dark past she has tried so hard to keep secret will once again become front page news.

No!!

When a college intern is accusing Jason of sexual harassment, both Jason and Rachel think of it as nothing more than a love-sick student.

 

But when a women from one of the company’s that Jason consults for accuses him of rape and looks to have proof, Angela starts to wonder if these women are lying, and does she know who the man she married?

Thoughts After Reading:

It was okay.

ugh

The beginning and middle were really good and a page turner

But the end fell flat for me. It was a good twist but at the same time it weakened the whole book.

For more books not in a series, go to Candy from a Stranger

For more book reviews, go to For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

Death Threads

So I know today is Pi/Pie day

I was going to make one and post it and switch with Friday’s post, but Friday is Saint Patrick’s day and I wanted to post a Saint Patrick’s day recipe. I went back and forth on this…

Then I finally decided, book review today and recipe Friday, a pie recipe to tie in with this day & Saint Patrick’s Day. So here we go with our book review:

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Death Threads (Southern Sewing Circle #2) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

So I read this book and was planning on reviewing it, but then I couldn’t remember what happened other than I didn’t like it.

So I had to reread it in order to review it. Let’s see if my views changed.

So after a disastrous discovery of her fiancé cheating on her, Tori decides to move to Sweet Briar, South Carolina. There she found herself the victim of horrible pranks, a ton of residents upset with her replacing their favorite librarian, and a suspect in a murder.

But that’s all in the past. Now Tori is doing well at the library, has been accepted as a member of the town, dating a handsome teacher, and working hard on her sewing-grateful for her new friends and community.

But then things take a dark turn…Colby Calhoun: handsome, local author, newspaper reporter, and husband of Tori’s friend and sewing circle member–reveals that the town has been perpetuating a lie. The story is that the town was burned by Yankees in the Civil War, the Sweet Briar people coming together and rebuilding on the ashes, but Colby reveals that the town was really burned when a moonshine distillery caught fire.

Obviously Colby has never seen the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or else he would know:

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

The town becomes furious at Colby, all talking about how they would like to hurt him. His wife and kids are bullied or treated as pariahs. Even in the sewing circle Debbie isn’t accepted.

Tori is the only one who sticks up for her. Later when she checks on Debbie, the two discover the house ransacked, a threatening note, blood in the area, and a missing Colby.

Tori sets out to discover what happened to her friend’s husband and tries to catch whoever is doing this, because:

Also in this book, Tori meets an eccentric older woman who made up a boyfriend the past five years. But now it looks as if the man is real as they are getting married. Who could he be?

Thoughts after Reading:

Let’s see how did I feel?

The first one was much better. This one was boring.

It took a looooong time to get the characters moving.

And the mystery was easily solved. As soon as they brought the characters in it was clear what was up.

For more Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, go to Sew Deadly

For more Southern Mysteries, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mysteries, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Candy Canes of Christmas Past

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Ready for the next Christmas mystery? Here you go!

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Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone #0.5) by Leslie Meier

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder. 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

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I didn’t have anything to read and was waiting for some people so I started reading it. I loved this mystery as it was the perfect blend of Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was perfect and I absolutely adored it.

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The story was compelling as the reader is caught up in trying to find out how the Stone family will make it through Christmas in a dilapidated house, with barely any money, and no oven for Christmas dinner!

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As Lucy is trying to settle in the new town and meet people, she befriends the town librarian and is told of her mother’s mysterious death.

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Lucy is on the case to investigate a mystery in retrospect, find her place in the town, and figure out what to do about Christmas and Christmas dinner.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So many authors try to blend a story of a small town community with a murder mystery and fail. This one gets it right.

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If I could buy a copy of this book on its own I would as I just loved it. It may become a new tradition for me to read every year around the holidays. You should check it out!

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For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

For more stay at home moms who try a hand at investigating, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sinister Sprinkles