Real Murders

By Charlaine Harris

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Berkley Prime Crime, c1990, 2007

Genre: Mystery, cozy mystery (“with teeth” as described in an interview with Harris)

Series: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries; 1

ISBN: 9780425218716

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 290

Setting: Lawrenceton, Georgia

Time period: 1990ish

Plot summary: When a small town librarian, Aurora Teagarden, goes to a discussion group called “Real Murders” on a night off, she is in for a ghastly surprise.  It seems as though one of her discussion group members no longer just wants to discuss murders.  Instead, there is a copy cat killer on the loose who is aiming to kill the other members of the group.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: A fast paced book with lots of dialog and action scenes

Characterization: Told in first person through Roe (Aurora).  Most of the other characters in the story are potential killers (including one of Roe’s potential love interests)

Frame: While the murder aspects of this book give it a dark frame, Roe’s unassuming librarian tendencies lighten this frame and make it gentler.

Story line: With a slim number of possible killers, this well told story keeps one guessing until the end.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Librarians — Georgia — Fiction.

Teagarden, Aurora Roe (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Georgia — Fiction.

Similar authors: In her essay on Charlaine Harris read-alikes found in NoveList, Rachel Singer Gordon recommends: Sandra Balzo – Maggy Thorsen Mysteries (the first is Uncommon Grounds) and Shirley Damsgaard – Ophelia & Abbey Mysteries.  The Damsgaard series also features a small town librarian, Ophelia – who also happens to be psychic – and her grandmother, Abbey – who is a witch.  The first in this series is Witch Way to Murder. Other read-alikes can be found on the Charlaine Harris page of the SLIS Reading Group website.

Personal notes: I enjoyed this book, but not to the extent that I enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series.  The relationship aspects are a bit too cozy for my tastes and Roe is a bit too soft and effeminate.  I do get a kick out of reading books from just twenty years ago, though, and seeing how much technology has changed in that time.  In this book Roe considers getting an answering machine and people are still using typewriters.

Other (diversity, themes, websites):

This book won an Agatha Award in 1990.

Charlaine Harris’ website


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