The Julius House Hardcover – Feb 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
In this best of the series to date, Aurora (Roe) Teagarden, the former librarian returned to her roots in Lawrenceton, Ga., marries Martin Bartell, the rich, secretive and charismatic businessman she met in Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (1994). For their home, Martin buys the house once occupied by T.C. Julius, his terminally ill wife Hope and their teenage daughter. Six years earlier, the Julius family had disappeared without a trace, leaving only Hope's mother in the garage apartment. Martin lets the apartment to an old Vietnam buddy, Shelby Youngblood, and his wife Angel, who seem suspiciously like bodyguards to Roe. As questions about Martin's past and present disturb her newfound happiness, Roe determines to solve the Julius family mystery, enlisting Angel's help. A vicious attack and a stunning discovery lead the two women to New Orleans and a dramatic set of answers to puzzles old and new. The author's brisk, upbeat style keeps tension simmering under the everyday surface, while Roe's inclination to girlish chatter (a trial in earlier works) is restrained.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Aurora Teagarden, who gave up librarianship when she inherited money, marries the handsome businessman she met in Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (LJ 3/1/94). They settle down in his wedding gift to her: the so-called Julius house, named for the family who disappeared from it six years earlier. Aurora eventually discovers what really happened; unfortunately, she also uncovers a few unsavory things about her husband. Suspense sprouts from tiny seeds planted early on, and the tensions of a new marriage and an old mystery provide much fertilizer. Good reading, augmented by solid characterization and occasional humor.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I admit that the whole Roe/Martin wedding was a little contrived, but Roe really has wanted to get married all of her life and is extremely flattered that such an attractive, wealthy gentleman would be in love with her. It was fun to see Roe's thought processes as she dealt with extreme changes and challenges in her new life. I quite enjoyed the whole Julius family subplot and, though the ending was a little bit too shocking, Roe's whole investigation was quite logical and shows how one determined person can often put clues together that other people missed. As with the her other books, Charlaine Harris offers the reader a host of interesting supporting characters, many amusing details about the mystery and a fun, fast read for those who enjoy this type of genre. I feel that Harris' other mystery series starring Lily Bard (Shakespeare set) is stronger and her Dead Until Dark series is cleverer, but anything that Harris writes is worth reading!
I enjoyed this book as much as I did the earlier ones. It did take me a bit to warm to Martin, but I've decided that he's just what Roe needs. And unlike "Three Bedrooms, One Corpse", I did not solve the mystery before Roe! Everytime I thought I had figured it out, something new would be revealed, and I'd have to rethink my whole theory.
I fully recommend this series! Next is Dead Over Heels: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 5, followed by Fool And His Honey: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 6, Last Scene Alive (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries), and Poppy Done To Death: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 8.
Or if you'd like to try a different series by Charlaine Harris, check out the Lily Bard mysteries.(Shakespeare's Landlord (The First Lily Bard Mystery), "Shakespeare's Champion", Shakespeare's Christmas", "Shakespeare's Trollop", and Shakespeare's Counselor")
Or her new supernatural Southern Vampire Mysteries (Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 1), "Living Dead in Dallas", "Club Dead", "Dead to the World", "Dead as a Doornail", "Definitely Dead", and "All Together Dead")
In this novel, Aurora Teagarden was born and raised in the small town of Lawrenceton, Georgia, in the suburbs of Atlanta. She is now married to Martin Bartell. She has had some strange experiences in her life.
Martin Bartell is manager of the local Pan-Am Agra plant. Martin was born and raised in Corinth, Ohio, and served in combat as a Marine at the end of the Vietnam War.
Shelby Youngblood is an old friend of Martin from the war in Vietnam. He is married to Angel.
Angel Youngblood is a martial artist and stuntwoman. She is almost as tall as her husband and towers over Roe.
In this story, Roe and Martin are engaged. Martin buys the Julius House for Roe and she buys his family farm for him. She flies to Corinth, Ohio, by herself to acquire the property. She briefly meets Martin's ex-wife in Corinth.
Roe and Martin exchange deeds a few weeks before the wedding. Martin lets Roe handle the renovation of the Julius House. She starts buying household goods and hiring people to work on the house.
Shelby is coming to work at the Pan-Am Agra plant and will need a place to stay. Martin asks Roe if Shelby and Angel may use the apartment above the garage and she agrees. Then they take over the job of coordinating the renovation of the Julius House.
Of course, Roe is also attending showers and other bridal celebrations. She meets people that she hasn't seen for a long time. And they all have questions about the Julius House.
Roe is asked how she could possibly live in a house from which three people have vanished to never be seen again. Haturally she knows about the missing family, but she is not really concerned. The house seems too peaceful to have ghosts.
After the wedding and honeymoon, however, Roe starts investigating the disappearance. She and Angel measure dimensions inside and outside the house looking for hidden spaces, but find nothing except a china doll. Then Roe starts questioning the witnesses.
This tale has Roe digging up some strange information. Angel helps her in these investigations. She even saves Roe from a man with an axe.
Roe discovers that Martin has not told her everything before the marriage. She even quarrels with him. She still loves him, but she wonders if she is making a mistake.
This novel is more like a typical detective story than the others. In the next installment -- Dead Over Heels -- a body literally drops out of thin air. Read and enjoy!
Highly recommended for Harris fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of old murders, unexpected findings, and persistent women. For anyone unfamiliar with this series, the initial volume is Real Murders.
My criticism? I find it to be a trend in a lot of her books (and I've read many, from Sookie, to Lily Bard, to this, to Harper Connelley) that whenever some minor character appears, she has to let us know their race or nationality. In this book she let's us know the security guard in an apartment building is "black". And goes on to write his dialogue in slang and poor grammar. As if that is how all African Americans speak. I'm white and I am SURE there are tons of grammatical errors in this review that I am not aware of. It just seems to me that the race a of a security guard is immaterial. I guess we have to assume that all the other characters are white because she didn't specify. In an early Sookie Stackhouse novel, she actually named an Italian character "Guido" or something like that. And don't get me started on the couple of scenes where Roe and her fiance get intimate. Not that they are explicit by any means, not at all. They are just kind of hokey. Ms. Harris actually wrote the words "Readers, he carried me" (into the bedroom I guess) in one scene where they reunite after being apart.
So of course I recommend this book. Not everyone is going to react to the somewhat negative things I pointed out the way I did.