Thursday, January 29, 2009

REVIEW: Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This is the 7th book in the Aurora Teagarden cozy mystery series.

Several months have passed since the events of the previous book, A Fool and His Honey, and Aurora "Roe" is beginning to feel the weight of the world slowly being lifted from her shoulders. She's starting to accept her new life as a widow, albeit with the occasional emotional outbreak now and then.

But there's no time left for healing or contemplation as the little town of Lawrenceton, and Aurora herself, are pushed into the spotlight as by the movie crew that's moving into town for the on-location shoot of Whimsical Murders, the TV movie based on the grisly serial killings which took place in Lawrenceton ten years earlier. The book and screenplay were written by none other than Aurora's ex-love interest Robin Crusoe, who along with Aurora, was a major participant in the events that took place back then. Though Roe has already refused to allow her name to be used in the movie, Lawrenceton is a small town where everybody knows everyone else's business, and no one has forgotten the events which took place those so many years ago right here under their very noses.

So Robin comes pulling into town along with the movie crew and his supposed new flame, Celia Shaw, as reported by the tabloids. The seriously overdone Ms. Shaw is playing none other than the lead role in the movie, the part of Aurora herself. As if that weren't enough, Barrett, the cool and aloof son of her recently deceased husband, has a starring role as well! Aurora finds herself wondering if things can get any worse... just as she thought she was beginning to heal. *sigh*

The ensuing story has the usual elements longtime readers of the Aurora Teagarden series have come to know and love. Aurora is wonderfully quirky, and the small town folk are nosy but nice. But we are also starting to see a side of Roe that has only been briefly peeked at in past books. She's becoming older, wiser, and more introspective. And as I noted this subtle character shift, I picked up on it even further in the next book, Poppy Done to Death, the eighth and final book in the series, which I will also be reviewing in the next few days.

In terms of Roe's personality and emotional standpoint, this book is truly the Six of Cups of the Tarot. Roe is picking up the pieces after a major, heart wrenching upheaval, rebuilding, looking inward, and moving on. I realize not all my readers read the Tarot, but the imagery of the Six of Cups was so strong for me personally while I was reading that I just had to bring it up. I found myself really reaching out and relating to Roe on an emotional level that I haven't necessarily reached in past books, or if so, only briefly. But Tarot reader or no, this book definitely marks a major turning point in Roe's life which is probably all you need to realize.

But look at me! I've gone on and on about the emotional and interpersonal side of things and not said a thing about whatever murder or mystery is happening within these pages! LOL Well, with all the movie folk in town, you can bet there's gonna be trouble down at the OK Corral. ;) And it's none other than Ms. Celia Shaw who turns up dead. Going out with a bang! To the head that is... her recent Emmy all bloodied and lying next to her on the couch! But as it turns out, Celia and Robin haven't been an item for awhile now. And while Robin's been putting the moves on Aurora much to her delight, her stepson Barrett has been slipping it to the late star. Even though there are plenty of people who wouldn't have minded seeing Celia dead, Barrett is not one of them! But he's moved to the top of the suspect's list anyway. And no matter whether he likes her or not, Roe is going to do her damnedest to protect Martin's son and prove his innocence!

NOTE: Fans of Charlaine Harris who haven't yet read the Aurora Teagarden series will be happy to know that they are being re-released by Berkley. So they should no longer be so hard to find. Look for them at Amazon or wherever you buy or trade books.

BookCrossing journal page for this book


Marg said...

I've read the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the Harper Connelly books, but I haven't yet branched out into this series. I think I own the first one, or maybe it is the Shakespeare series - own the first one of one of her other series anyway!

Cherie said...

Heh, well as I said, these ones will now become just as easy to get ahold of so you should definitely check them out if you like Cozies. :)

I read the Shakespeare books as well, and I'd say they're a little darker, but also, the main character in those books, Lily, didn't endear herself to me in the same way that Aurora did.

Anyway, the copies I read are part of a BookCrossing ring, so if you're a member there, feel free to find me and I'll hook you up with the details. (You can use the BC link in my review to find the actual book and then link to my profile from there.)