Wednesday, 01 April 2015 08:50

AuroraTeagarden bonetopick
Before Charlaine Harris created telepath waitress Sookie Stackhouse and the vampires who resided in Bon Temps, Louisiana, the author had Aurora Teagarden, a sharp-as-a-tack librarian in the quiet town of Lawrenceton, Georgia.

While these novels certainly could be considered amateur sleuths, they weren’t as “cozy” as one might expect. Harris always had an eye for the darkness that lurks just below the surface.

Sure, there was humor, and very little overt violence, in these novels. And the name Teagarden seems tailor-made for a cozy. But Harris also added that extra bit of noir to seep in.

While it is doubtful that Harris will ever write another Aurora Teagarden novel, this series is getting a terrific reboot on the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.

A Bone to Pick, the first Aurora Teagarden movie, debuts at 9 p.m., April 4, on both channels. Check your local listings for time changes, etc.

Candace Cameron Bure (Full House) delivers an impressive performance as Aurora, whose career as a librarian plays into her hobby as a sleuth and member of the Real Murders Club, a group that gets together to analyze crimes during its monthly meetings.

Aurora is close friends with Jane, an elderly member of the club who is especially interested in the history of women murderers. Jane, a retired librarian, sees herself in Aurora. The day after Aurora picks up a book from Jane, the older woman passes away.

Aurora is upset over her friend’s death, but stunned to learn that Jane’s will leaves her everything. Aurora now owns Jane’s house, money, possessions, including a skull that seems to indicate the person had been murdered.

Taking over Jane’s house, Aurora finds a neighborhood filled with secrets, including mysterious break-ins, missing children, and families in flux.

A growing romance with a sexy minister and Aurora’s close relationships with her best friend, Sally, and her meddling mother add to the plot.

aurorateagarden bonetopick2
Bure brings a sense of vulnerability and steely intelligence to Aurora. She understands the character’s ambition and independence.

Marilu Henner brings her usual fine acting chops to the role of Aida, Aurora’s mother who wants her daughter to be happy, yet can’t help meddling every now and then. Lexa Doig as Sally and Stephen Huszar as Father Scott Aubrey add the likable cast of characters.

A Bone to Pick does justice to Harris’ novels.

A Bone to Pick, the first Aurora Teagarden movie, debuts at 9 p.m., April 4, on both the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Check your local listings for time changes, etc.

Photos: Top, Candace Cameron Bure stars as Aurora Teagarden; center, Candace Cameron Bure with Marilu Henner who plays Aida, Aurora’s mother. Photos courtesy Hallmark Channel.

Aurora Teagarden on the Screen
Saturday, 28 March 2015 11:00

hartcarolyn dontgohome
Favorite characters become part of our circle of family and friends. We become anxious to visit with them, to find out what they’ve been up to and what adventures we might share with them.

And when a series has gone on a long time, it’s also easy to take those characters for granted, as if they will be with us forever.

But as we know, all things end, even beloved characters.

And sometimes not.

When Carolyn Hart’s Don’t Go Home comes out on May 5, it not only will be the 25th novel in the Death on Demand series, but it also was to be the finale.

I was prepared that we would be missing Annie and Max and Broward’s Rock.

I had even written this essay after receiving a note from Carolyn Hart explaining the difficult decision of ending this much-loved series.

Hart has been writing two novels a year for some time and it was becoming too much for the author.

“I decided that I no longer wished to write two books a year and I had to choose between the Death on Demand series and the Bailey Ruth series,” she said.

So she decided to continue the Bailey Ruth novels and let Annie and Max have a rest.

“I have chosen Bailey Ruth because the books are exceedingly challenging to write,” said Hart, whose next Bailey Ruth novel Ghost to the Rescue comes out in October 2015.

“That might seem puzzling because Bailey Ruth, a redheaded ghost who returns to earth to help people in trouble, involves a lot of laughter. At least on my part and I figure if I’m laughing, a reader will laugh,” added Hart, who was one of the MWA Grand Masters for 2014.

“Bailey Ruth might appear to have every advantage as a sleuth since she can be invisible and overhear and see amazing moments. But the challenge is that every time she is at a particular spot, there has to be a logical reason she is there. Nothing can happen by chance. Trust me, that is hard to do.”

In her note, Hart added, “Annie and Max, thank you for the good times, for your kindnesses, courage, humor, and grace.”

But sometimes, we change our minds and Hart certainly did.

And we are glad she did.

A few days after I wrote this blog--and had it scheduled to be posted--I received a most welcomed note from Carolyn Hart.

Annie and Max will return.

"Annie and Max looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t even think about it!” I realized I’d miss them too much. So I changed my mind and hope to write their 26th adventure as soon as Bailey Ruth persuades a lovelorn ghost to climb the shining stairs to Heaven," Carolyn Hart emailed me.

We all are allowed to change our minds.
Thank you Carolyn Hart, for all these wonderful stories about Annie and Max, and in deciding to give us more time with these characters.

(Not) Saying Goodbye to Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:50

kellermanjonathan motive
Last week, my home was filled with the voice of actor John Rubinstein.

My husband is a theater critic and he was interviewing Rubinstein, who will be appearing in the South Florida tour of Pippin. Rubinstein had played the title role when the musical was first on Broadway in 1972. Now Rubinstein is playing the king, the father of Pippin.

Meanwhile, I was listening to Rubinstein narrate Motive, the latest novel by Jonathan Kellerman.

Before their interview started, my husband mentioned that I was listening to Motive.

Rubinstein mentioned what a job it is to narrate Kellerman’s Alex Delaware and that he also is a fan of the novels.

For me, Rubinstein is the perfect reader for the Alex Delaware series, as he truly makes different voices for each of the characters.

Rubinstein’s Alex sounds nothing like Milo Sturgis, the LAPD detective with whom Alex works and is his best friend.

Anyone who listens to audiobooks knows that it all hinges on the reader. Even the best plot with the best characters can be a mess if the reader doesn’t deliver.

Scott Brick is another reader who elevates the books he narrates.

John Rubinstein, the Voice of Jonathan Kellerman