May 5, 2017

Book Review | All The Little Liars

US Hardcover edition
All The Little Liars
Aurora Teagarden #9
Charlaine Harris

Published in Hardcover 2016
This edition published in January 2017

PIAKUS, paperback (format B), 244p.
ISBN: 9780349416236

Librarian Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small town: four children, including her fifteen-year-old brother, Philip, have vanished from the school football field. What's even more worrisome is the dead body found at their last known location. While the local police comb the county for the missing children, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the two incidents have something to do with a group of school bullies? Are Aurora's father's gambling debts related to the disappearance of her brother? Or could it be that Philip himself, new to town and relatively unknown, is the one responsible? With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother ...if he's still alive. 

When Poppy Done to Death came out I was okay that the series wrapped up with Aurora's news.  It was done, complete, and I didn't need more.  Fast forward thirteen years (!!) and the news dropped that Charlaine Harris was continuing her Aurora Teagarden series and although I was excited - she is a great character - my main thoughts were "why?".  

Flash forward, again, to yesterday when I received the paperback edition in the mail.  Instead of jumping right in and devouring it as soon as I'd opened the package, it just sat on the coffee table where I'd placed it.  As I cleaned up before going to bed, I picked it up and put in on the bedside table thinking that I'd look at it at some point.  Then, when I was all snug under the blankets, I realized that I hadn't brought in the book I was hoping to read and instead All The Little Liars was there so I grabbed it and started to read...

... and nintey minutes later I was done.

It was OK.  Really, nothing style-wise had changed in the 13 intervening years.  All the characters felt the same, Aurora, Robin, Phillip, Aida and John, Phil and Betty Jo.  A similar style of mystery coupled with Aurora's inability to leave well enough alone... well, you know how it goes.  Basically, this could have been written 12 years ago for it felt so familiar.

However, there were two differences - Aurora's pregnancy, and her finally standing up to her father and his ex-wife, Betty Jo.  Now, we all knew going in that Aurora was pregnant - this little tidbit dropped in the last book - but Aurora had never stood up to her father about his shitty attitude and lack of responsibility towards his offspring or spouses.  Oh, she may have thought about the things that she'd like to have said, but they never passed her lips... until this book.  It is probably the biggest change in her character.  Is it only because she's pregnant that she's grown assured enough to finally speak her mind?  Well, I'll find out in the next book if it's a character trait that will stick.  I hope it does because self assured Aurora is pretty damn great.

Of the mystery itself, that was well done.  I had an inkling who might have been involved, and I was sort of right.  The disappearance of Phillip and friends was a great way to reintroduce Phillip to the readers, as well as his lackluster parents.  In earlier books Phil and Betty Jo came off as sanctimonious prats, but now the blinders are off and we see them for the self absorbed jerks they are.  I wasn't surprised to find out that Phil was in hot water with gambling debts to some rather unsavory characters (hmmm, will this be a future story arc perhaps?) or that Betty Jo had run off to a commune to get away from not only Phil, but the repercussions of his gambling strife.  Great potential drama, but not worth the aggravation.  I'm really hoping that we don't see more of them in future books.

So while All The Little Liars was a fast paced book, there was just something about it that left me feeling a tad disappointed.  It's been almost 24 hours since I finished it, and I still haven't been able to pinpoint where it fell down for me.  All the elements were there, but for some reason I just wasn't as into it as I'd expected to be.  I'm really hoping that's because I've been reading so many cosy books recently that it's just cosy overload.  I'm definitely going to be rereading this (and all the previous books) before the release of book 10 later this year.

For now, I give All The Little Liars

I hope you enjoyed my quick first thoughts on All The Little Liars.  Let me know in the comments if you have read it, and what your thoughts were about Charlaine Harris picking up the series 13 years later? 

Until next time, my lovelies

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