Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Julius House - Charlaine Harris

The Julius House
An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime


Aurora (Roe) Teagarden is busy with wedding plans. She’s set to marry wealthy businessman Martin Bartell in just a few weeks. At this point, her biggest challenge is finding exactly the right wedding present for him. Using what little she knows about his childhood, and the wealth unexpectedly left to her by an old friend, she manages to purchase his boyhood home and present him with the deed. He’s deeply touched by the gesture.

Martin, being no slouch in the gift arena, manages to suss out the perfect gift for Roe, too. He hands over the deed to the Julius House. Roe has always loved it, despite its shady history. Six years ago, the Julius family moved into the house, began extensive renovations, and enrolled their daughter in the local school. One morning, the grandmother – who was living in a newly constructed apartment above the garage – came over to make breakfast and discovered the entire family was missing. No sign of the family was ever found.

Roe throws herself into renovating the house, with an eye towards living there with Martin. In the few weeks leading up to the wedding, she begins to have doubts. She realizes that there are huge gaps in Martin’s history. There are things he won’t talk about with her. These worries intensify when Martin moves an old friend and his wife into the garage apartment. On the one hand, it’s nice to have someone on hand to help out with things. On the other hand, there are now two people Roe doesn’t know, living on her property.

The main story is Roe and Martin, dancing around each other and his history. To her credit, Roe does ask some questions. But Martin answers what he wants, then shuts down. The eventual discovery of what happened to the Julius family, while mainly a subplot here, is the more interesting storyline. It’s marred a bit by the old ‘bad guy who must explain every detail to our heroine’ scene, but the outcome was unexpected. This story may be a bit dark for lovers of strictly cozy mysteries, but the whole series (REAL MURDERS, A BONE TO PICK) is certainly worth a read.

Rating: 7
June 2008 (reprint)
ISBN# 978-0-425-22203-4 (paperback)


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