Teagarden Mysteries

One of the best things about vacationing at Ramona’s house is how much reading I get done. She’s always got a book or two set aside for me to read while I’m there, and we spend long stretches comfortably settled in with our cups of tea, reading our separate books together. I know some people would consider that a waste of good vacation time, but to us, it’s what vacation is for: doing whatever you want, no schedule, no pressure: total relaxation.

Browsing at the local library (having returned the first round of vacation books), I spotted Charlaine Harris’ The Julius House, and asked Mom to check it out for me. I didn’t realize at the time that it was the fourth book in a mystery series; the description on the back simply drew me in. The basic plot is our heroine, Aurora (‘Roe’) Teagarden, moves into a house from which the previous occupants vanished–breakfast left on the table, no bodies or evidence of foul play found, and no sign of any of them since. She sets out to solve the mystery as she renovates the house. I didn’t get to the book until the last night of vacation, and only read three chapters, which haunted me. The book evoked a real feeling of dread, and I kept wondering what on earth could have happened to the Juliuses.

Before I even left Iowa, I logged on to the Multnomah County Library’s website and reserved the first two books in the series. I’ve now devoured the whole series (eight books so far), and have that sad-but-satisfied feeling you get when you gobble your way through something delicious. (As Mom would say when we bugged her for more cookies or other treats: “You won’t be happy until it’s all gone!”) I didn’t want to be out of new Teagarden books to read, but there was no way for me to do anything but zip through them, one after another. The only breaks I took were when the library hold list made me wait a week or two to get my hands on the next in the series.

The murder mysteries are a mixed bag–some are a bit obvious, some strain credulity, most do a good job of keeping the reading feeling clued in without being too sure of the answer, and some are perfectly chilling–like the answer to what happened to the Julius family. The strength of the series in the ongoing saga of Roe’s personal life. Harris does a lot of development there, in and around the murder cases, and it kept me anxious for the next book as much as the mysteries did. A lot of authors don’t let their central characters change too much, but boy, does Roe go through the ringer! She’s a good character, well fleshed-out and convincing. When she suffers the death of someone very close to her (as opposed to all those neighbors and acquaintances who are always getting bumped off) her bereavement is very affecting. I happened to finish that book at bedtime, and fell asleep feeling quite bleak for poor Roe; I had to remind myself a couple of times no-one was really dead, it was just a novel!

If you enjoy mysteries, I absolutely recommend the Aurora Teagarden series. As for me, I take comfort in the fact that Charlaine Harris has two other crime-solving heroines heading up their own series of novels. Hmm, who first: Lily Bard, or Harper Connelly? Let’s see what’s available at the library!

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6 Responses to Teagarden Mysteries

  1. Ramona the Reader says:

    I love these ‘little’ mystery series. They are well written and quite portable – perfect to read while riding the stationary bike at the Y.
    I’ve read some of the Aurora Teagarden’s plus ‘Shakespeare’s Landlord’ the first of the Lily Bard series. I wish my local library had the complete sets.

  2. kaizerin says:

    Oh, me too–I call them ‘popcorn books’, because I eat them by the handful. I took the last Teagarden book back to the library and picked up the next item I had on hold–and was a tad dismayed to find it was a much more serious book than I was expecting. It’s “For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga”, and it’s written like a serious history book; I was somehow expecting a historical novel. It comes highly recommended, so I’m giving it a fair chance…but it’s SO not what I’m in the mood for!

  3. Ramona the Reader says:

    I like this picture better than the little man with the big nose! Have you gotten ahold of any Rhys Bowen mysteries yet?
    I agree that “For Want of a Nail” looks ungainly. But who knows, maybe you will love it.

  4. kaizerin says:

    Well done, you! I agree, you look much better with your own nose. 🙂

    Haven’t read any Rhys Bowen, but will add her to the list. As Fall comes on, I’ll want to be curled up with cozy little mysteries even more than I am now.

  5. Preston says:

    Not to hi-jack this thread, but a well done book in the fantasy line is Sabriel by Garth Nix. It is a YA book and it is actually a series. Have not found the other two books yet. This is not his only series–he has a couple of others. Easy read and very well done… my .02 worth

  6. Ramona the Reader says:

    Brought home “Three Bedrooms, One Corpse” Teagarden mystery from the library yesterday. They’ve got a bunch of her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Mayhaps I will try them next.

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