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Dead Over Heels - Charlaine Harris

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Charlaine Harris / Edition: Reprint / Mass Market Paperback / 272 Pages / Book is published 2008-08-05 by Berkley

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      18.08.2009 09:11
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      Well written but strange thriller

      ===Background===

      I have read several fantasy/adventures in the past few months written by this author. So I was delighted when I was given this one as a present recently. Especially as I had not even heard of this one before I received it. I was surprised to learn that it was written back in 1996. It is one of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries.

      ===About the author===

      Charlaine Harris was born in Mississippi in 1951. She has become a very successful internationally acclaimed novelist in both fantasy and mystery fields. To date she has written 28 novels of which her 10 in the Sookie Stackhouse series are the most successful and my own personal favourite. Her other series are: five in the Lily Bard, four in the Harper Connelly and eight in the Aurora Teagarden series.

      ===Synopsis of the book===

      Aurora and her friend and bodyguard Angel have a just had a very close call. When a body of Detective Sergeant Jack Burns body narrowly misses them as it falls from a light aircraft into their garden. This dead man had in the past had run ins with both women but surely no suspicion can be attached to them? Aurora employs Angel as her bodyguard as in her husbands past he was a gunrunner and he still fears some have a score to settle with him and they may try it via his wife.

      However this is the first of several bizarre things that happen over the next week or so. The first is a very Public bust up with Beverly a fellow librarian, but within 48 hours this women's body is found battered to death. Then Aurora receives flowers without a delivery note and her cat Madeline who craves any kind of affection as a worm enjoys the sunshine suddenly has a pink ribbon round her neck.

      Things get even stranger around her as Angel discovers she is pregnant despite her husband having the operation many years ago to prevent this. There is clearly something in the air and it seems to be centred on these two women. With the Police still mourning the lose of Jack Burns Aurora sets about trying to find what on earth is going on.

      ===My thoughts on the novel===

      Overall I enjoyed this very unusual book. It was not for me the usual case of either I loved it or hated it. My view was very up and down, there were ideas, thoughts and concepts I really liked but other aspects to the book I just found annoying and frustrating.

      I would describe myself as an experienced reader of Charlaine Harris having read half a dozen of her novels already. She has a very different writing style, which I find refreshing, as it is so different. I particularly enjoy her Vampire books that feature Sookie Stackhouse as in these the author uses her vivid and thoughtful imagination to great effect. She does so here but I found it less convincing bodies falling from space the very idea!! It was all too unlikely and bizarre for a simple soul like me!!

      This was my first experience of the character Aurora Teagarden in one of her thrillers. It is the fifth novel in the series of eight so far, and probably not the most sensible thing to do start in the middle of a series! But I did not find this a problem at all as you do not need to have read any of the earlier ones to enjoy this one. The novel does not refer but to previous experiences, the only thing I struggled to get my head round was why Aurora needed a bodyguard at all, but this was kind of explained but not completely to my satisfaction.

      I found this novel very in keeping with the author's unique style of writing. I do enjoy her excellent style, very descriptive but at the same time down to earth and easy to read style. The only thing I found off putting particularly with this book was when it came to an exciting sequence she would slow it all down with a lengthy scene description and ruin all the build up and excitement she had created earlier.

      One feature I particularly found annoying with this novel and I have noticed it before with her work was some of the characters names. For a start the story is about Aurora Teagarden while her best friend is Angel Youngblood. I suppose on the positive side they are names you won't forget, but I found them annoying and I think detract from the story itself.

      When I picked up the book I was immediately impressed with its fancy artwork on the cover. However I noticed that this book is available in a choice of two different covers. I turned to the summary on the back of the book and was intriguing so I opened the book. I think the marketing department have got a little carried away as instead of the story you get several pages of exerts from her previous novels. I thought this was excessive and should have been at the end of the book so you could decide then after reading if you liked the sound of the other ones, not at the beginning.

      I think the start of the book sets the tone for the rest of it with this body mysteriously falling from the heavens into Aurora's back yard. It made me wonder what on earth would happen next and that carried on throughout the book. As it was full of mystery and I never had a clue about what was on the horizon and what the next instalment would bring.

      I would not say I was ever 100% convinced by the storyline, it was interesting but not fascinating. It was well paced throughout and at no time did I know why these weird things were happening, nothing seemed to make sense and then when something did it was wrong. I did enjoy the story but I didn't know where it was heading so I suppose that added to my interest in what was going on.

      There were other events in the story I found unconvincing. For example when Aurora went to take the body bag back onto the plane, firstly no-one noticed her and despite it being a murder scene she was still able to get into the plane, unlikely I think!! Other things to didn't make sense such as no prints on the dead man and the Police were not really taking any inroads into the murder or trying to hard to solve it. It was almost like it was left to our star to try and do their job for them.

      The concluding paragraphs were well written but for me lacked clarity and realism. Yes it was great to find the answers, but the reasoning for what had happened did not convince me. I also felt it was a little rushed and could have been extended and expanded to make it more logical and the rational explained in greater depth, so that it all made sense.

      I found the books star character Aurora a very interesting and well thought out character. I found I could relate to her as she had a great personality and had all the qualities I admire, such as sensitivity, loyalty, honesty and inquisitive mind. She was also in keeping with the novel as she was unusual and I always felt there was more to learn about her interesting past, maybe that comes out in another story.

      This could also be said about the novel's support characters. They were well described and despite often having unusual names had good and different characteristics and personalities. However I did get a little confused as there seemed a lot of characters and I struggled to remember what their relationship was with Aurora and the author did not remind me to help me out with this.

      The best part for me about the book as it was so unusual. I think you have to take this novel with a pinch of salt and not look to deeply into the plot. I do enjoy this author's vivid imagination, as I never know what to expect from her with the exception of her consistently quality writing throughout.

      The books length was in my view a little to short. This I believe could easily have been corrected by an extending the concluding chapters. This in turn would have added suspense to the story and ultimately made it better and more palatable. The chapters were quite short but in keeping with the overall size of the actual book itself.

      ==Conclusion:==

      I would recommend this book not because it's a great thriller but because it is a different and so a very unusual read. As you never knew what was about to happen and what direction the story was going in next. I really enjoyed the author's vivid imagination although I struggled with some of the things that happened. Maybe this author is a creative genius!! On balance its worth a read but I can imagine a lot would give up on this one because it seems far-fetched.

      ==Other information:==

      Pages: 253
      Price: £4.92
      Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
      ISBN: 978-0-425-22303-1
      Year: 1996
      About the author: www.charlaineharris.com

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

      @CPTDANIELS August 2009

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