Charlaine Harris is best known for the recent success of her Southern Vampire series starring Sookie Stackhouse, which was turned into the HBO series True Blood. But she has been an active, prolific writer for two decades. In addition to the Sookie Stackhouse books, Harris is the author of three other series--the Lily Bard mysteries, the Harper Connelly mysteries, and the series that started it all, and which is just recently back in print, the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. It's a mark of Charlaine Harris's talent and creative energy that she can write three series which are, on the surface, so alike--all set in the south and each featuring an independent, plucky amateur sleuth--and yet have each be so distinct from the others.
Real Murders, the first of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries, is a lovely contemporary twist on the traditional cozy mystery. Aurora, known as Roe, is a librarian in the small Georgia town of Lawrenceton. She's also one of the founding members of a club of true crime afficionados which meets once a month to discuss classic murders. As the club is gathering for a meeting in which Roe is to lecture on a British case from the thirties two things happen: a stranger is introduced to the group and a body is discovered. A murdered body, which appears to mimic exactly the case to be discussed that night. Things happen very quickly after that. One murder follows another, and each appears to be staged as closely as possible to mirror a famous real murder from the past.
Roe Teagarden doesn't do an inordinate amount of sleuthing, and only solves the mystery by pure blind chance. But still, she's a lively, engaged, intelligent heroine who seems poised to grow as both a person and a detective.