Author: Charlaine Harris
Original language: English
Agatha Award (nominee)
An ingenious plot and sufficient flow of blood keep the pages flying in Harris’s (Sweet and Deadly) third novel, as a series of killings patterned after celebrated murders is perpetrated on the small community of Lawrenceton, Ga. Twenty-eight-year-old Aurora (Roe) Teagarden, professional librarian, belongs to the Real Murders club, a group of 12 enthusiasts who gather monthly to study famous baffling or unsolved crimes. As a meeting is to begin, Roe discovers the massacred body of a club member. She recognizes the method of slaughter as imitating the very crime she was to address that night-suddenly her life as armchair sleuth assumes an eerie reality. The murderer continues to claim victims, each in the style of a different historical killer. Roe herself becomes a target, and also attracts two admirers, Robin Crusoe, a famed mystery writer new to Lawrenceton, and club member/detective Arthur Smith. Death seems to have infused new life into her waning social calendar, an irony not lost on this pensive character. Harris draws the guilty and the innocent into an engrossing tale while inventing a heroine as capable and potentially complex as P. D. James’s Cordelia Gray. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
YA- Someone is killing the crime buffs of the Real Murders Society in Lawrenceton, Georgia. A librarian, Aurora Teagarden, sets out to catch the brutal murderer after fellow club members end up as victims. The uncanny resemblances to famous crimes challenge Roe and her two admirers, policeman Arthur Smith and mystery writer Robin Crusoe, to pursue the criminal. The lighthearted, witty handling of characters contrasts with the heightening suspense as Aurora seeks clues by searching past mysteries for the killer’s identity-until she is caught in the sadistic web of terror herself. Clever pacing along with ample red herrings and judiciously placed clues keep Harris’s story moving briskly. Let’s hope for another fast-paced mystery featuring Aurora and her friends.- Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, MD
Aurora Teagarden, Lawrenceton, Georgia, librarian and member of a club devoted to the study of famous crimes, has prepared what she thinks ought to be a riveting speech for the Real Murders Society. But a playful murderer steals the show with a real-life re-enactment of the case Aurora has chosen, casting one of the club members as victim. Gathering her wits about her after the shock of discovering the body, Aurora-Roe to her friends-provides some tips for policeman Arthur Smith, another member of the club, on the similarities between the cases.
Soon bespectacled Roe is receiving attentions not only from Arthur but from mystery writer Robin Crusoe. Robin is new in town and a tenant of the apartment complex Roe manages for her mother. It is not long, however, before the unwonted glow of romance Roe is basking in is overshadowed by the murderer, who seems to have chosen her for his next victim. Roe is too smart to fall prey to the ghoulish prankster but he hits his mark the next time, killing the parents of one of her friends, again in the style of an earlier crime. Lawrenceton appears to have a serial killer on its hands, and an audacious one at that. He taunts the police further by planting evidence in one of their own vehicles, and on the properties of society members.
Roe is sure one of her fellow history buffs is guilty but can’t decide whether it’s Philip Allison, a mentally disturbed library worker; Gilford Doakes, whose special interest is mass murders; or someone seemingly more stable, like reporter Sally Allison or banker Bankston Waite. Supported by Arthur and Robin, between whom she is not yet ready to choose, Roe scours the chronicles of old murders and the real settings of the crimes for the clues that will crack the case.