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Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 178 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Lily Bard Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While on a late-night job in tiny Shakespeare, Ark., Lily Bard, 31, sees a furtive figure placing large plastic garbage bags in the local park and, untying one, discovers the body of her former landlord. In a quick but anonymous phone call (she is determined to avoid any questioning), she reports it to the police chief. With skill and wry wit, Harris, the author of the Aurora Teagarden series, soon reveals the horrific facts in Lily's background that explain why she is solitary, confrontational, obsessed with self-defense—and why she chooses, despite a first-rate education, to eke out a living as a cleaning woman. Realizing, however, that her fingerprints on the body of the dead man might make her a suspect, Lily subtly and insightfully queries her customers, some of them tenants of the murdered landlord, in the process meticulously evaluating their closets, drawers and motives. The renters are a well-defined lot: a happily promiscuous idler; a sanctimonious and hypocritical reverend; and an aging couple with much to grieve about. As Lily investigates, she develops a wary but cordial relationship with the police chief and forms a warmer tie with her karate instructor. But at the same time, someone has discovered the unspeakable facts about Lily's past and has begun stalking her. Harris's finely tuned, colorful and suspenseful tale, filled with vigorous and unique characters, will leave readers hoping it's the start of a series.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden series, now introduces Lily Bard, resident of Shakespeare, Arkansas, a woman fiercely protective of her privacy, determined to succeed as a one-woman cleaning agency, and just as fiercely determined to excel in karate. When the unpopular and very nosy owner of the apartment building next door is murdered and the body dumped in the local park, Lily reports the body to the police--anonymously. The local police chief, however, is nobody's fool and quickly discovers Lily's involvement and her own past, which makes her a possible suspect. Given the situation and, since she cleans for many of the other possible suspects, some opportunities, Lily decides that the only way to clear her name is to find the real killer. Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story. Expect more from crime fiction's first cleaning-lady series. Stuart Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425206866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425206867
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charlaine Harris (born November 25, 1951 in Tunica, Mississippi) is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over twenty years. She was raised in the Mississippi River Delta area. Though her early works consisted largely of poems about ghosts and, later, teenage angst, she wrote plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She began to write books a few years later.
After publishing two stand-alone mysteries, Harris launched a lighthearted series "starring" Georgia librarian Aurora Teagarden, with Real Murders, a Best Novel nominee for the 1990 Agatha Awards. Harris wrote eight Aurora titles. In 1996, she released the first of the much darker Shakespeare mysteries, featuring the amateur sleuth Lily Bard, a karate student who makes her living cleaning houses. Shakespeare's Counselor, the fifth--and last-- was printed in fall 2001.
After Shakespeare, Harris created The Sookie Stackhouse urban fantasy series about a telepathic waitress who works in a bar in the fictional Northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps. The first of these, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. Each book follows Sookie as she tries to solve mysteries involving vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. The series, which now numbers nine titles, has been released worldwide.
Sookie Stackhouse proved to be so popular that Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, announced he would undertake the production of a new show for HBO based upon the books. He wrote and directed the pilot episode for that series, True Blood, which premiered in September of 2008. It was an instant success and was quickly picked up for a second season.
In October 2005, Harris's new mystery series about a young woman named Harper Connelly debuted with the release of Grave Sight. Harper has the ability to determine the cause of death of any body. There are now three Harper titles (GRAVE SIGHT, GRAVE SURPRISE, AN ICE COLD GRAVE) with a 4th (GRAVE SECRET) to be released in 2009.
Harris has also co-edited three very popular anthologies with her friend Toni L.P. Kelner. The anthologies feature stories with an element of the supernatural, and the submissions come from a rare mixture of mystery and urban fantasy writers.
Professionally, Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League. She is a member of the board of Sisters in Crime, and alternates with Joan Hess as president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. Personally, Harris is married and the mother of three. She lives in a small town in Southern Arkansas and when she is not writing her own books, she reads omnivorously!

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have one piece of advice to anybody interested in Shakespeare's Landlord: buy it, borrow it, whatever, just read it as soon as possible. Put it at the top of your pile. You'll be glad you did.

Lily Bard is one of the most compelling and, frankly, admirable heroines I have ever come across. She's got a very dark past, and from the very first page it's clear how much sheer will it has taken for her to make a new life for herself. Lily is independent, blunt, ass-kicking, solitary, and smart as hell.

The Shakespeare books are mysteries, and they're good ones, but the reason to read them is to watch Lily Bard's character grow and change. Charlaine Harris has a tremendous ability to infuse the most quotidien events with incredible depth, a true master of the 'show don't tell' school of writing. Her characters are both ordinary and monumental, and she writes about the South in a way that (really!) bears comparison to Faulkner and Toni Morrison.

The Shakespeare series in particular picks up on a lot of very delicate issues and tackles them head on: questions of race, class, and gender end up tangled in the crimes Lily has to solve. For women, in particular, thinking about how Lily has changed in response to her own past can be a real eye-opener.
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For four years Lily Bard has lived and worked in the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. While she cleans the houses and businesses of the town folk she learns some of their secrets, but she's known and respected for being closed mouthed. Even though Lily is a known and recognized member of the community, she isn't really close to anyone; she keeps to herself. Lily has a past she'd like to keep there.

When the leading Shakespeare busybody and landlord turns up murdered, suddenly the people that she has worked for are all under suspicion. When the local police chief starts sniffing around Lily's door, she decides she needs to try to locate the murderer.

With only 214 pages, I was a little skeptical about how this mystery would get pulled off. I ended up being pleasantly impressed. Charlaine Harris creates a detailed setting and introduces a town full of colorful people. Having grown up in a small town; it was easy to recognize some of the characters and relate to the life and town she describes so well.

The mystery is solid and the set up compelling. The story is detail rich and there are multiple layers and twists and turns that keep the reader enthralled. Ms. Harris has created yet another wonderful heroine in Lily, whose past is ugly and the emotions that the telling of it evokes are genuine, frightening and a little heart breaking. Enjoy!

Cherise Everhard, January 2008
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
But Ms. Harris's writing style is just as unique, and just as compelling.

I'm not a fan of mysteries, normally. They seem to fall into one of two groupings: the Dame Agatha group and the Deaver group.

The Marple mass always seem to have a little murder with supper. They are slightly horrified, but everything seems so silly... the death is never really... real.

The Deaver denizen are just the opposite. A killer is always a serial killer, and they're always out to find nastier ways to kill, gorier trophies, and trickier ways of hiding themselves among the population.

Ms Harris's mystery leans more toward the Murder She Wrote grouping. The murder is treated as a puzzle, and the victim almost as a side story. But the reason for this is we're learning the life of Ms. Lily Bard, and her chosen environs of Shakespeare, AK.

Early on, Lily discloses the icky feeling that the victim gave her, so the lack of concern with his murder is totally explicable. Also, Ms. Bard has quite a back story of her own, and I found myself turning the pages just to see how she'd react in different situations.

I read this in an afternoon. I love Ms. Harris's writing style - if you're a Sookie fan, I think you'll like this simply because of the lead character. I also think if you like the first group of mysteries above, you'll like this. There are enough little twists and turns to make the pulp mystery reader happy.

Heck, I'll probably even read the rest of the series when they're available at the library. I don't usually do that for series...

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As a huge Charlaine Harris fan I recently picked up "Shakespeare's Landlord", the first Lily Bard mystery. This series deals with Lily, a cleanwoman dealing with her traumatic past by running off to a small town and making a new life for herself. One night Lily witnesses a murderer dumping a body in a nearby park area. And they are using Lily's trash can to transport the body! Desperate to hide her own secrets, Lily begins her own search into who murdered the gossipy landlord of Shakespeare Garden Apartments...and every tenant is a supect! I flew through this book quickly, its kind of short and sweet. Well sweet, it the wrong word. Very little that happens in this story is sweet. This is the darkest story I have read from Charlaine (after her rape saga "A Secret Rage"). This mystery is definately worth reading and the clues and suspects are interesting. The reveal of the murderer is a little to quickly resolved. I was slightly disappointed by that. I would recommend this book to Harris' devotees and to those who like their mysteries a little less 'cozy'.
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