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Review: A Bone To Pick by Charlaine Harris

Reviewed by Amanda Wrangles

I have a new fictional friend. Her name is Aurora Teagarden. She’s smart, funny and sometimes – well, she makes bad choices. She also comes from the same mind that brought us Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly and Lily Bard. The most fabulous Charlaine Harris.

The Aurora Teagarden novels were actually some of Harris’ first – way before the time of True Blood and Sookie Stackhouse. However, with the popularity of the author’s other novels, it’s time for re-release so we can all discover and meet this new/old heroine. I, for one, am pretty happy about this idea – too much Harris is never enough.

Aurora (known as Roe to her friends) is a librarian with desperately inquisitive mind and a penchant for crime stories. She hasn’t had much luck in love, and by all accounts is a little on the plain side. Her fortunes change in A Bone to Pick when she inherits a large sum of money, a pregnant cat and a house from an elderly acquaintance she knew through a group of crime-loving readers (crime books, that is. Not criminals). But not only has her friend left Aurora set for life – she’s left her with a damaged human skull hidden in the house and a crime to solve.

To complicate matters, Roe has herself a new man – a minister of the local Episcopalian church. Just how does one ‘date’ a minister when you’re hiding the partial remains of a possible murder victim? And where’s the rest of the body? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious break-ins of all the neighbouring homes? And speaking of neighbours, could things get any more complicated than Aurora’s ex-boyfriend moving in across the road with his brand-new, pregnant wife?

A Bone to Pick is the second of eight novels in this series, and the first I’ve read. I’m not a huge fan of reading series out of order, but I did find it very easy to pick up the story from here. Like all Charlaine Harris’ protagonists, Aurora is very likeable; her inner dialogue is funny and self-deprecating. She’s far from perfect, and her thoughts have a way of wandering to the dark side – especially so far as her ex and his wife, and Aubrey The Minister, are concerned. The actual mystery in A Bone to Pick isn’t particularly clever or shocking – in fact the lead-up was so vague that even at the reveal, I felt kind of ‘meh’ – it was all a bit too easy. But the end result isn’t really the point of this story. Aurora herself is. Unlike telepathic Sookie, or lightning-struck Harper who is able to sense the dead, Roe doesn’t have any special abilities other than her mind. She’s ordinary. She’s nice. She’s a refreshing type of heroine who could be anyone’s friend or neighbour.

A Bone to Pick is what I’d describe as ‘cozy’ crime fiction or mystery. It’s not dark or grisly and it won’t give you nightmares. Harris’ unique writing style steers the story along at a fast rate, and there’s plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. I’m planning on heading back to Book 1 – ‘Real Murders’ and then catching up the others. I can’t wait to find out what happens with Aurora and that minister…

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries in reading order are:

1/ Real Murders

2/ A Bone to Pick

3/ Three Bedrooms, One Corpse

4/ The Julius House

5/ Dead Over Heels

6/ A Fool and His Honey

7/ Last Scene Alive

8/ Poppy Done to Death

A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden: 2) by Charlaine Harris

Published by Gollancz / Hachette

Paperback, 199 pages.

ISBN – 978 0 575 10374 0

  • Charlaine Harris

    I’m always delighted when readers pick up my older books. I’ve always been very fond of Roe, and if I ever have the time I’d love to write another book in that series.

  • Thank you for commenting. Mandy is so looking forward to meeting you in Melbourne at the bookseller breakfast.

  • Amanda Wrangles

    Thanks for your comment, Charlaine. There’s nothing more exciting for a reader than finding a whole new series to get stuck into! I’m very much looking forward to getting to know Roe a little better. And, as Marianne says, meeting you in Melbourne!

  • Belinda

    The Lily Bard series is also a winner. I love how Charlaine’s heroines are broken somehow, but manage to survive and cope in their own ways.