Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer

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Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries #1) by Charlaine Harris

So you all know how much I love book sales.

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Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.

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So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.

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I can’t help it, it is an addiction.

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This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.

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This was during my “I want to be a behavioral psychologist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.

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I enjoyed the book so much, that I reader it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.

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I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.

Wow

Wow

And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?

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Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.

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Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she  is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.

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A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.

Yes!

Yes!

Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.

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Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.

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Roe cant find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.

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Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the  most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.

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Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.

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Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices  the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.

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Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Officer Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.

The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.

Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.

Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.

Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. H talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?

The next night Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?

Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.

The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.

There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.

Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.

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And who will be next and which criminal will they be following next? Jack the Ripper? Ed Gein? The Blackburn Baby Killer?

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more along with getting away from his disheveled house.

While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over.  The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!

Chocolate makes everything better

But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.

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Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.

OMG gasp

She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.

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Arthur and his partner, Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.

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Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.

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Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.

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Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)

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But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

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I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!

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The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Midnight in Austenland

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For more on Charlaine Harris, go to Life’s A Journey

For more mysteries, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

For more on serial killers, go to The Butcher of Burtonsville High: The Death of the Queen Bee, Bones (2010)

For more Alex Flinn quotes, go to I Don’t Wanna Be in Love (Dance Floor Anthem)

christmas-flowers-banner Today I thought we would go all Southern, as this this book takes place in the South. So we are going to have Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley.

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This song was written in 1948 by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson, but didn’t become a popular Christmas Carol until the King recorded it in 1957. What can I say? We love Elvis.

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For more on Elvis, go to Fandom Love

For more Christmas Carols, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

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Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

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So first of all, Happy Thanksgiving!

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So I was watching this film as I like Hallmark and it is a Thanksgiving film, perfect for the day, but then it got me thinking…it reminded me of something…

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And then it hit me over the head!

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It reminded me of a certain Jane Austen story:

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

But is this film really a modern take on Pride & Prejudice? Or is it just borrowing some elements of it? Let’s take a look!

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The Story:

Emily Jones, (E for Elizabeth?), is the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade coordinator. She loves her job and vintage things; choosing to shop and thrift stores and live her life appreciating the past. She is currently engaged to a marine biologist, who is full of himself and doesn’t appreciate Emily but wants to change her into something, “better.”

That guy!

That guy!

Emily has a best friend, Donna, who helps her with finding her vintage clothing and offers her advice. Emily’s life is going great until she gets the ultimate slap in the face; the city has hired an efficiency consultant, Henry William(Will as in FitzWILLIAM Darcy?), to cut costs in the parade.

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Immediately Emily doesn’t like him. Not only is he trying to destroy her favorite thing in the world, but he is wealthy, arrogant, insensitive, impossible, and hates the past as he believes modernity is the way to go. Henry thinks Emily is stubborn, impractical, prejudiced, and doesn’t understand her doggedness about holding onto the parade or her. But they are stuck together.

Henry Williams: We don’t have to like each other, but we do have to work together.

As they start working together, Henry discovers that he misjudged Emily and starts to understand and appreciate her views; changing more and more with each encounter as he opens himself up to care about the heart of the matters, rather than the money. 

Emily starts to fall for him, but her pride and prejudices still keep her from realizing that he is right for her, and her fiancé, Brian, is all wrong. But when Henry decides to change nothing at all, saving the parade for her; Emily realizes she completely misjudged him in every way, and goes after him and in the end they are together.

Double double yay

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So the storyline has quite a few similarities; the bare bones are the same. But what about the characters?

Elizabeth/Emily

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So we are going to start with Emily. Emily was born from a middle class family and has worked hard in her job to make it the best she can as she has a strong sentimental connection to it and the city. She isn’t like other people often being “out of time”, as she loves vintage and retro things of the past.

Elizabeth Bennet is born from a middle/upper class; not wealthy like Darcy or Anne Elliot or Emma Woodhouse, but her family does well. She, like Emily, isn’t always connected to the people of the day as she has her own way of doing things. She prefers walks to riding in a carriage, books to games of whist, etc.

Emily’s pride is hurt when she finds out that the city is going to not only going to try to remove something from her parade to make it cheaper, but also that they would pick an outsider to come in and make those changes. She immediately becomes prejudiced against Henry, no matter what others say about him.

Elizabeth’s pride is hurt when Darcy insults her beauty, and after that becomes prejudiced against him. When George Wickham enters her life, she knows barely anything about him but is willing to believe his testimony against Darcy, rather than Bingley who she has begun to know, as she wants a reason to dislike him even more.

Emily is dating Brian who doesn’t really care for her but who he wants her to be. Elizabeth is interested in George Wickham, who also doesn’t care for her as much as using her as an avenue to spread slander against Darcy and hopefully introduce her to a wealthy woman.

Emily decides the best way to get Henry to save the parade is to show him every facet. As they spend time together; Henry opens up a lot and the two become friends and start falling for each other. However, Emily doesn’t realize how Henry is the perfect one for him until she meets the foster care directors that took care of him when he was younger and when he decides to change nothing, but save the parade for her.

Elizabeth and Darcy don’t share the same type of closeness as the social constraints of the day don’t allow them the same kind of time together. But through the time they do spend and conversations they have, Darcy falls for Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn’t find herself falling for Darcy until she reads his letter of explanation, hears from his servants about how they feel about him, and when he saves her family and finds her sister.

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Fitzwilliam Darcy/Henry Williams

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Henry Williams grew up in foster care and worked hard his whole life to achieve wealth. Along the way he closed himself off to others, not interested in developing relationships, but chasing after the dollar and making decisions primarily on logical and cool reasoning, rather than emotions.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had a life of privilege, but his responsibilities of being the only son, inheriting and caring for the land, and becoming a guardian for his sister made him focus more on decisions that made sense, rather than emotional.

At first Henry cannot stand Emily as he doesn’t understand her or like the things she likes and the way she dresses (it is strange to him that someone could love wearing used clothing). As they continue working together, he starts to like the way she acts, the things she does, and her.

Mr. Darcy at first isn’t interested in Elizabeth and he really isn’t interested in befriending anybody but being closed off. However, once they spend time together; he starts to like her conversation, her interests, and her.

In the end Henry lets down his facade and barriers allowing Emily in and trying to show her his real self He also decides that his love for Emily is more important and keeps the parade exactly the same. Not only does he save the parade she loves, but saves the actual parade by filling in for their missing Santa.

Darcy does everything he can to try and change Elizabeth’s opinion of him after hearing her objections. He opens his home to her and her family, and tries to show her who he really is under the cold drawn facade. But the thing that really proves to her his care is that he goes to see the people he vowed to never see again, pays a man he never vowed to never give money to again, and saves Lydia and the Bennet family reputation; all for Elizabeth.

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Conclusion?

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Well this isn’t a direct and true adaption of the novel, I do believe that with the large similarities and the core of the characters; while not perfect…it is a modern Pride & Prejudice. And did I like it?

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Yes. Whether you watch it as a modern version of Pride & Prejudice, as a cute Thanksgiving film, or a feel good Hallmark film; I thought it was cute and fun.

I like it!

I like it!

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So that’s our post for today. I thought it would be the perfect Thanksgiving and Jane Austen fusion. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, however you spent it. And don’t forget the pie!

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For more Thanksgiving posts, go to You’ve Got to Accentuate the Positive

For more Pride & Prejudice film adaptations, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Candy Girls

For more modern retellings of Jane Austen, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen Quotes, go to Lemon Scones

For more bible verses, go to I’d Lay Down My Life for You: Pocahontas (1995)