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THE JULIUS HOUSE


By Charlaine Harris

Berkley Prime Crime; 2008, c1995 ($7.99)
ISBN-10: 0425222039
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-22203-4

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, ex-librarian and amateur sleuth, has never been happier in her life. She recently inherited a pile of money, she’s about to marry Martin Bartell, a wealthy and handsome businessman, and he’s given her the house of her dreams. Things just couldn’t be any better, right? Wrong...There are a few weeds in Roe’s garden. The house she loves has a tragic history. Six years ago, the widow of the original owner sold the sixty-year-old home to T.C. Julius. He and his family -- wife, teenage daughter, and mother-in-law, settled down to live a happy life. That didn’t last too long. One morning Mrs. Totino, the mother-in-law, left her garage apartment and entered the kitchen of the house to make breakfast. Her loved ones had vanished, no signs of struggle, nothing missing, they were just gone. Some people in Lawrencetown think Roe’s crazy to live in a house with such a history, but it doesn’t faze her.

She loves Martin, but there are gaps in his past he is reluctant to fill in. She knows he had a happy childhood until his father died, and that his stepfather is not a nice man. She knows Martin served in Vietnam, but he never talks about it. She tries to give him space, but it bothers her that he shuts her out of so much of his life. Why does an executive in an agricultural products plant need to make so many trips to South America? And who are Shelby Youngblood and his wife Angel? Martin says Shelby’s an old Army buddy down on his luck. He offers the couple the garage apartment, gives Shelby a job at the plant, and arranges for Angel to help supervise the renovation of the Julius House. Are they really friends, or something more sinister?

This is the fourth book in the Aurora Teagarden series. Ms. Harris is a talented author with several equally enjoyable, though very different, series.

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