Book Reviews

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) by Charlaine Harris – Book Review

The book cover of Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries#1) by Charlaine Harris

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) – Book Details

TITLE – Real Murders

SERIES – Aurora Teagarden, book #1

AUTHOR – Charlaine Harris

GENREmystery, cozy mystery, thriller



MY RATING – 3.5 of 5


What It Is About

The whole thing was a scene deliberately staged by someone, and suddenly I knew what had been biting at me underneath the horror.
I thought faster than I’d ever thought before. I didn’t feel sick anymore.

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris is the first book in the Aurora Teagarden cozy mystery series.

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian living in a small town in Georgia. She can’t resist a good mystery, and she is a member of the Real Murders Club, a small local group of people who gather once a month to analyze famous old murder cases.

But as the newest meeting is about to start, Aurora finds one of the member’s body. The victim seems to be killed in a way that imitates the case they were about to discuss.

Suddenly, being a member of the Real Murders Club is anything but innocent and harmless. Because it is clear that someone from the group is the killer. And everyone who is not the killer is a potential new victim.

Themes and vibes:

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) by Charlaine Harris – My Review

The separate sources of my uneasiness suddenly coalesced into horror. I was holding my breath when my hand reached out to open that door to the last room…

Ever since I discovered Hallmark Mysteries a couple years back, my autumns became so much cozier. I love them, I just have no words to describe how much I enjoy the small town vibes, beautifully staged houses, snugly corners, wonderfully quirky amateur detectives and, of course, all the mysteries. (That, granted, in most cases could be better, but oh well, you can’t have it all).

Cozy mystery movies almost feel like you’ve put on an ambience video, but this one has a plot. Grab a thick knitted blanket, a cup of tea and some popcorns, and there you have all you need for the most perfect autumn evening.

But for some reason, I never actually read a cozy mystery book. At least not a typical representative of the genre. Though the covers are gorgeous and the titles oh so inviting, I guess I just didn’t know where to start. There are so many of them!

Well, I finally decided to start with Real Murders by Charlaine Harris, the first in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, which is my favorite Hallmark mystery series. I thought that if I’m starting with a new genre, I better start with something more or less familiar.

I don’t know if that was a good decision, as the TV series completely tempered my opinion of the book. To the point I can’t even tell what I would think about the book if I haven’t watched the movie first. But it sure helped me relax and enjoy the story.

I had thought about xeroxing the indistinct old pictures of Julia Wallace’s body and passing them out to show the murder scene, but I decided that would perhaps be ghoulish and certainly disrespectful to Mrs. Wallace.

Aurora Teagarden is an interesting character to follow. She is a librarian who loves mystery books (both novels and true crime). She just can’t help herself, always trying to solve every puzzle there is out there.

Though friendly and compassionate, Roe truly thrives when there’s a dead body around. The clues of unsolved mystery usually clear her head and help her go through the gore. And her sharp brain often connects threads no one else finds important.

At least that was how I saw Roe Teagarden based on the movies I watched. The book… Well, the truth of the matter is – Aurora on paper doesn’t really have much personality. She is a tad bland, but then, that is quite common with the first books in series. She sure has a lot of potential to grow.

Also, let’s just say you can tell this book was written in the early 90s. Some of Roe’s thoughts were a bit ignorant and even mean. And there were a lot of people she disliked for one reason or another. Made her a bit judgy to me.

And I am not at all someone who needs all the protagonists to be sweet and friendly and nice all the time. I am great with mean, grumpy characters as well.

But Roe doesn’t really fit there either. She was genuinely nice for the most part, but every now and then something would slip. I don’t even know why it bugged me so much. Maybe it was just that I liked my pre-formed opinion of her better.

I’d had that familiar irritating feeling that someone, sometime, had said something interesting that I wanted to pursue, mentioned some names I wanted to mull over, and I’d thought flipping through the book would help.

Anyways, I hope I’ll like her more in the other installments, because I definitely plan to read more of this series. Once I got used to the characters not being exactly as they were in my head (and there were quite a few changes to the whole cast), I actually enjoyed the book very much.

The setting was cozy and perfect for a mystery to occur. The Real Murders Club felt a bit like listening to a true crime podcast. And the murder mystery was actually quite good.

At least I think. Because, again – the movie. I knew who dunneit the whole time. I don’t know what I would think, if I’d guessed it if I haven’t seen the movie. But I liked the twisty, high stakes situation anyways.

Someone was painstaking and artistic in a debased and imaginative way. Someone had issued a challenge to whoever cared to take it up. “Figure out who I am if you can, you amateur students of crime. I’ve graduated to the real thing.”

The writing was not perfect but it was better than I expected. The place and the characters felt very real, like I could bump into some of them one of these days.

It was also very relaxing to read a book set in the 90s. No one carries a cell phone around. No social media. Like a tiny step back in time – loved it.

The book was a bit slow at times and there were quite a bit of what I thought were unnecessary details. But on the other hand, it was cozy and familiar and comforting and thrilling at the same time – perfect for a chilly September night.

Then my ears were buzzing and I felt very weak, and though I knew I was alone in the hall, I felt the presence of something horrible in that kitchen, something to dread.

Anyways, really glad I finally gave cozy mysteries a try. Real Murders was a good starting point, and now I can’t wait to check out more of the genre. Maybe try some newer ones. Or maybe a paranormal cozy mystery would be even better for this time of year.

I’m open for recommendations. If you’ve read some that you really loved, please drop it in the comments, I’d love to check it out.

Also, I don’t know if I should read the rest of the Aurora Teagarden books in order or just go for my favorites. What do you guys think?

My Signature

(3) Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading your reviews. Authors i have come to treasure are R. Galbraith, K. Quinn, H. Coben in the mystery genre. Amor Towles is also excellent…if you like the writing to lean toward literary (which I do). His “A Gentleman in Moscow” was a delight. Perfect ending.

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendations, Kim! I just added A Gentleman in Moscow to my TBR, based on what you said – I think I will love it, too.

  2. Thanks for sharing your review, Jovana! ‘Real Murders’ sounds like an intriguing mystery read, especially with the unique backdrop of the Real Murders Club. I’m fascinated by the idea of a librarian-turned-sleuth, and it seems like Charlaine Harris has crafted quite the compelling protagonist in Aurora Teagarden. Can’t wait to delve into this one myself!

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