Friday, January 14, 2011

Last Scene Alive by Charlaine Harris

Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden MysteryI was going through my online journal the other day, pulling out things I'd written about books I was reading, and found the following entry from February 8, 2009,  "From Charlaine Harris, A Fool and His Honey, the latest Aurora Teagarden mystery - very upsetting." The only thing I could recall about what upset me was that Harris had killed off Aurora's husband or boyfriend, but couldn't remember the details. When I ran across the next novel in the series at the library, well...

This one picks up about six months later, while Aurora is still grieving for her dead husband, Martin, and living in a great pile of a house all by herself, aside from Madeleine the cat, that is. She is about to be jolted out of her dolorous rut, however, by the arrival in town of the film crew working on a tv miniseries adaptation of her ex-boyfriend, Robin Crusoe's novel about murder and mayhem in Lawrencetown.

If you've read any of this series, you know of course that there will be a murder pretty soon, and when the star actress of the series turns up dead in her dressing room, Aurora can't help but butt in. There's some interesting twists in that the victim turns out to have possibly been murdered three times, first by drugging, next by smothering, and finally whacked in the head with her Emmy statuette, so it's possible that more than one person had something to do with it.

What's more interesting to me about this novel is that it falls into a common theme I'm noticing this fall/winter of being a transitional novel. The first one that I remember reading was Changes, by Butcher. One might have guessed from the title that it was going to be a big transition in the Harry Dresden series, and all of us fans are sitting around wondering what direction that transition is really going to take, and the only hint we've had is from the short story Aftermath, in Side Jobs.

More recently, I read Kitty and the Silver Bullet, by Vaughn. There's a big transition that takes place there, too. Kitty finally is forced to quit running away, and has to confront her fears and her ex-pack, so she can return to her home town of Denver, spend more time with her family, and move on with her life.

Now, in Last Scene Alive, Roe must move past her grief, sell the house where she lived with Martin, find love again, and move on to the next phase. If I thought about it some more I could probably find a few more examples of transitional novels in a series from my recent reading, too. I always hope that when this happens, it will mean a new bit of excitement from the author, and a breath of spring for her readers.

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