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 Last Suppers

Takes place during Lent and ends just before Easter so I am posting on Maundy Thursday

The Last Suppers (Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #4) by Diane Mott Davidson

So a lot has happened since the last book. Julian has been going to a community college while having applied to  Cornell and hoping to get in.

Arch has crossed off magic and swimming on his list of hobbies, but instead has an obsession with a show about UFOs and other weird/mysterious things.

And Goldy is going to marry Tom Schulz. Yes, she went from being in love with the victim of the last book, and uncertain about love; to marriage.

It is the day of the wedding and things are not going according to plan. The food isn’t ready

The minister is late

The reception house is locked and no one has spare keys, etc.

Things take an even darker turn when Tom calls to postpone the wedding. He went to pick the minister up and found him dead.

Oh no!

The police rush to the scene of the crime and find that things have gotten much worse. It appears that Tom was attacked and kidnapped or killed, living behind a cryptic note that neither the cops or Goldie can decode.

Now Goldie is involved in a race against time as she tries to find her fiancé before death tries to part them.

Goldie’s investigations turn her to her own church! One of the members killed the reverend, but why and who?

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated this book. I thought it was absolutely awful.

Al the characters were horrible and unrelatable.

The author appeared to have a lot of anger at the Episcopalian church as she is venomous against the people and the faith, which makes me wonder why Goldy didn’t just leave her “awful” church and go somewhere else.

Apparently the Author has some issues she needs to address.

Seriously!

The book was also extremely boring as it went on and on and on about the charismatic and traditional Episcopalian faith. And she uses all the terms that we as layman have no clue what they are or mean.

And the end made no real sense as to why the person was a murderer and holding Tom hostage. It felt like the author wasn’t sure how to end it and just flipped a coin to come up with a solution.

If I hadn’t already read later books in the series I would be tempted to quit the series as the last few books have been duds.

For more Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries, go to The Cereal Murders

For more wedding mysteries, go to For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

For more mysteries with missing fiancés, go to A Case of Identity