Recently, I checked out the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris. I’ve read many of Harris’s other series and generally like them, and I’m trying to read more genre fiction in an attempt to step up my readers’ advisory skills. Reading about a small-town public librarian seemed like a fun way to do so.
I read the first three books in the Aurora Teagarden series: Real Murders; A Bone to Pick; and Three Bedrooms, One Corpse. Each one focuses on Aurora Teagarden, her small town on the very outskirts of Atlanta, and the murder mysteries she keeps finding herself embroiled in. They’re murder mysteries, but they’re largely cozy ones: there’s very little graphic violence, virtually no sex, and very little swearing. Although the books follow a general narrative thread of Aurora’s personal life, they don’t need to be read in order, as each one has a separate mystery that is resolved within the confines of the novel.
On the whole, they’re pretty charming, and work as great readalikes for mystery fans who like cozies, who like novels about small towns with vivid casts of characters, and who are looking specifically to read Harris’s backlist (which is extensive; she’s a prolific writer who has been at this for decades).
What was interesting to me as a reader of Harris’s work is how far she’s come in her writing, specifically when it comes to sexual content and to diversity. Comparing this series (her earliest series) to her most recent (Midnight, Texas), it’s impossible not to see how deliberate Harris has been in increasing the amount of diversity, not only in the racial and ethnic backgrounds of her characters, but also in their sexual orientation and socioeconomic statuses.
The first novel in this series was published in 1990, and it feels a little dated (not just the clothing styles referenced in the book, but in other ways, to). But it’s still a largely enjoyable mystery that mystery readers are likely to gobble up. The most recent book in the series is being released this month, so expect an uptick in the series backlist, too.
All copies borrowed from the library for review.