Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shakespeare's Landord by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery, 1997
Mystery; 214 pgs

Completed: 06/28/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: I gathered myself, my bare feet gripping the wooden floor, my thigh muscles braced for the attack.

Reason for Reading: I enjoy reading Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series and decided to branch out and try her Lily Bard mysteries. This is one of my selections for the Southern Reading Challenge.

Comments: I was not quite sure what to expect when I picked up Charlaine Harris’ Shakespeare’s Landord. Maybe I thought I would find myself reading a cozy little mystery set in a small Southern town. What I got, however, was a darker, more edgy mystery set in that small Southern town, which was even better. Some readers, including the author, have called the author’s Lily Bard series a cozy mystery series with teeth.

Lily Bard is a woman with a secret. She left behind her old life to get away from painful memories. With her hair cut short and dyed, often wearing baggy clothes, all in an effort to disguise herself, Lily wants nothing more than to keep a low profile and live her life in the small quiet town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. Lily, working as a cleaning woman and doing odd jobs for her clientele, finds the body of her former landlord on a late night stroll through her neighborhood. When Chief of Police, Claude Friedrich begins digging for suspects, Lily’s past makes her a suspect. She becomes determined to find the killer herself, hoping to preserve some of what she had built in that small sleepy town of Shakespeare.

The novel is full of colorful characters from the elderly but astute Mrs. Hofstettler to the spoiled Deedra Dean. As their cleaning lady, Lily probably knows more about them than they know themselves, including some of their secrets.

It is Lily herself that adds the edge to this mystery. She is tough as nails, a karate expert, sarcastic and a bit antisocial. She does her job, keeps her mouth shut and leads a relatively safe and peaceful life, which suddenly changes with the murder of the landlord. Lily begins to wake up from the fog she’s been living in, realizing she is a part of the world, that people notice her, care about her, and maybe she can still live rather than just merely exist.

With its southern charm and easygoing atmosphere, Shakespeare makes the perfect setting for Charlaine Harris’ novel. It adds gentleness to the story while at the same time revealing the rough edges under the surface. Small town gossip may flourish, but there’s a genuine friendliness and concern for each other, almost everyone looking out for each other.

Shakespeare’s Landlord is only the first in the Lily Bard mystery series, and I definitely plan on stopping by Shakespeare again. Charlaine Harris continues to be one of my favorite series’ writers.

Favorite Part: I most enjoyed following Lily around while she went about her various jobs. It was through that method that readers get a close up and personal glimpse into many of the characters of the novel. Bobo Winthrop and the condom incident had me chuckling out loud. Mrs. Hofstettler was full of southern charm and I enjoyed the moments spent with her. I got the impression that she has a little spitfire left in her despite her health problems. Chief Friedrich was another of my favorite characters. He was always such the gentleman.

Note about the Author: Charlaine Harris is a born and bred Southerner, having been raisd in the Mississippi Delta and now calling southern Arkansas home. Check out the author's website for interviews, a biography and bibliography.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, I haven't heard of this one yet. I will have to look it up!

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  2. I read this book a few months ago for the same reason you did - and I really enjoyed it. I thought she was an interesting, quirky heroine, and I enjoyed the small-town setting. I'm planning on reading the others, too.

    Have you read any of the ones in the Aurora Teagarden series? I also read the first one, Real Murders, and it was dark and actually a bit creepy. But good! You might want to try that some time, too.

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  3. Great review, Wendy! I have heard great reviews about Charlaine Harris, just haven't explore the series yet. :)

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  4. I think I just got this series from Amazon. I love the Southern Vampire series, so wanted to get this one while it's available.

    I'm glad to know I've got a great story waiting for me.

    cjh

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  5. I'm really going to have to add this to my stacks. I love a good mystery, especially a southern based one.

    Thanks for the good review!

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  6. I saw this series when I was looking at the great site Fantastic Fiction and thought they looked interesting. Cheers for the review, when I have read some more of my current books I will look into getting these.

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  7. This sounds too good to pass up! I read a few of her vampire novels and thought they were cute but somehow forgot to keep track. I think I'll give this one a try - a cozy with teeth. Now that is something I'll like :)

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  8. I heard that the guy who created 'Six Feet Under' is going to turn the Southern Vampire series into a show for HBO or Showtime (I don't remember which). I like those books, so I'm looking forward to it. I haven't tried her other series though. Might have to.

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  9. Kelly - If you do decide to give the book a try, I hope you will enjoy it!

    Darla - Thank you for stopping by! I haven't tried the author's Teagarden series, but after your description of it, I definitely want to give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Melody - Thanks! I've enjoyed everything I've read by Charlaine Harris so far. She writes a little bit of everything so there's lot to choose from. :-)

    CJ - I hope you enjoy the series as much as I did. And thanks for stopping in.

    Niki - Thanks! I definitely think it's worth trying. I hope you'll like it if you try it.

    Rhinoa - I know what you mean about wanting to read more of your own before looking into other books. I need to follow your example! LOL

    Iliana - I hope you will give the series a try! I am glad I finally got around to reading the first book. It had been on my TBR shelf for awhile.

    Kookie - I've heard the rumors about a TV series based on the Southern Vampire series too. I'll be curious to see how that comes out. Showtime did really well with the Dexter series from the looks of it. Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files is getting mixed reviews. I'm not sure what I think about this one hitting the little screen, but I'm open to watch when it does. Or at least catch it on DVD since I don't subscribe to the movie channels.

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  10. This sounds like a really great book! I think I'll add it to my list! Thanks for the great review!

    Just so you know, I'm going to be blaming you and your reviews for my growing "TBR list"... ;-)

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  11. Karina - Haha My wish list looks like Santa's list of good little boys and girls. :-)

    And since I know how much you like shoes, I finally found some! I never thought I would, but I did. And I didn't give up when I saw how busy the poor shoe woman was, helping five of us at the same time (while her coworker stood around chatting the entire time, not doing a darn thing to help). Now I can go to work on Monday knowing I'm wearing shoes that aren't falling apart.

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  12. I've never heard of Charlaine Harris but I think I will be checking into this mystery series. Sounds like a fun read.

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  13. Framed - I hope that you will enjoy her books just as much as I do if you decide to give her a try. :-)

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  14. I liked the Shakespeare series more than the vampire series. I thought the characters in the Shakespeare series were more realistic (quite apart from fantastical elements), and the redemptive storyline showed more insight.

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  15. This one looks pretty good! I'm not tempted by her Vampire books at all but this sounds like a fun romp. With teeth. Just not fangs.

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  16. Thanks for the review on this one. It sounds good!

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  17. HEY! Glad you found shoes! Good for you for not giving up, I never let anything stop me from getting a good pair of shoes, as youwell know! ;-)

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  18. Veronica - Yes, I can see exactly what you mean about the characters in the Shakespeare series being more realistic--they've got more depth to them than the characters in Harris' vampire series.

    Carrie - No fangs, just a little bite. :-) If you do give the series a try, I hope you'll emjoy it. It's definitely different from her vampire series both in content and style--enough different anyway.

    Stephanie - You're welcome. I really enjoyed it. :-)

    Karina - I was glad to have found the shoes too. I can't tell you how glad! LOL I wore a pair today and they seemed to work well. With shoes I sometimes suffer buyer's remorse after, but so far so good.

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  19. Hmmm, I might have to check this one out. I've tried several times in the past to get into cozy mysteries, but my attention would always wander within a few pages. I think it was the vanilla flavor of the stores that bored me. This one sounds promising, though.

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  20. Lesley - I haven't read too many cozies, but I do know what you mean. I suppose it depends on the book ultimately, but I think I prefer spice in my cozies. :-) I think you should give this one a try just to see if it has enough of that in it for you. If not, that's okay too. :-)

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