106 of 109 people found the following review helpful
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.
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
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...
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
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'.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
To Lily Bard, the small, sleepy town of Shakespeare, Arkansas is the perfect place to hide her past. After being brutally gang raped years before, Lily has painstakingly rebuilt her life. She is now must stronger physically and is gaining confidence in her martial arts studies. However, she still disguises her looks and maintains a low profile. After all, housecleaners aren't exactly noticed. But all of that changes when she witnesses a murder...
Suddenly she is faced with a difficult choice - to share what she has learned with the police and lose her hard-won anonymity and gain unwanted attention or to pretend that she never saw anything. Then her married karate instructor starts showing a passionate interest in her and her plan of a private, well-ordered life comes unhinged. Meanwhile, the killer of an unlamented landlord is lurking nearby. And while Lily knows the inside dirt on her neighbors' dust, drawers and private lives, she must admit to a secret of her own: that in the shadow of a brutal murder, she is coming alive again...
This is a short, well-written mystery that will hook you on the Shakespeare/Lily Bard series written so ably by Charlaine Harris. Lily is a fascinating character as she is so strong/tough and yet has her softer side and her weaknesses. In short, she is human. The way she solves the murder is quite entertaining as she uses her knowledge of cleaning the various locations in Shakespeare to eliminate suspects as she goes along. I found the book to be quite humorous as Lily has a wry, dry sense of humor that is very appealing. I highly recommend this book to mystery buffs and for those who enjoyed any of Mrs. Harris' other books. It is unfortunate that books 2 & 3 in the series are out of print, but if I was able to hunt them down, you can too - its well worth it!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2007
Lily Bard is a woman with a tortured past, literally. She has come to the sleepy town of Shakespeare to escape that past, to a place where no one will know her and what happened to her. She cleans houses for a living, which lets her live on the fringes of society but not part of it. A man is found dead in the apartment house next door to where she lives and someone uses her trash can to dispose of the body. To protect her secret Lily is drawn into the lives of people that could expose her secret, so she has to find out who killed her neighbor, before they find out about her. Lily Bard is one of the best drawn female characters of any mystery series I have read. This woman feels real, you really feel her pain and her determination to never be a victim again. The story draws you in, I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to get the next one in the series. I highly recommend this book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
In the 1st book in the Lily Bard Mystery series, we are introduced to the complex character of Lily Bard. Lily is healing from emotional and physical scars she received in a brutal attack several years before, and has moved to the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, to escape the horror of that experience. On an evening that she has trouble sleeping, she watches an unknown person transport a dead body to the arboretum across the street from her home. The killer dumps the body, and leaves Lily to decide whether to expose herself and her secrets to the police, or to leave the dead body exposed to the elements. She provides an anonymous tip to the police, and finds herself as a target for violence once again. Working closely with the chief of police, Lily struggles to catch a killer while learning to heal some of the deep wounds from her past.
This book grabbed me right from the beginning and wouldn't let go until I had finished it much, much later that night. A voracious reader, I could read a book a day...if my schedule permitted. With this book, however, the schedule flew out the window, I blocked out everything else, and I settled in for a nice rainy evening with a great book. I was quickly transported to the small town of Shakespeare into the troubled life of Lily. I loved her dark, brooding character and enjoyed watching her learn to open up and to begin to trust others while facing some of the demons from her past. Lily is a strong yet vulnerable character, and I look forward to watching her evolve and blossom in future installments in this series.
Most books in the cozy genre are not as dark or haunting, and I found my thoughts returning to Lily long after I had finished the book. Lily reminds me somewhat of Kinsey Millhone, and if you are a fan of the series by Sue Grafton, you may want to give this book a try.
The next book in the series is called "Shakespeare's Champion". Enjoy!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2009
I've been trying a few of Ms Harris's other novels since I enjoyed her Southern Vampire Mysteries so much - at least until Dead and Gone. I can't say that I enjoyed this novel, but I also can't say that I disliked it. It may be the darker tone of this book compared to her vampire series or perhaps that mysteries aren't my favorite genre.
I do think Ms Harris is adept at creating interesting and arresting characters. The heroine of this book is a survivor of a brutal crime. As a result, she's withdrawn from most of society. When she does interact with other characters in the books via her job as a cleaning woman, she's wary and distant. There is also a sense of underlying anger in her which is married to her desire not to be a victim again.
Lily wants to keep her past in the past; she doesn't want the residents of Shakespeare, her home of four years, to know what happened to her in Memphis. That quickly disolves one night when Lily follows a person using her garbage cart and discovers he/she has dumped the body of the local landlord in a park. The landlord has the reputation of being the local busybody so he's not highly popular with the host of suspects that follow.
I agree with another review that this is more like a Murder She Wrote type of mystery, but that doesn't make it unpleasant. Even with her vampire series, I don't read them for the "mystery" aspects; I enjoy them for the characters.
I plan to read the next in the series to see where Lily goes. I read her Harper series and found the first book dark and depressing but Harper eventually grew on me in books 2 & 3 so I'm willing to give Lily a shot.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2003
I've enjoyed Ms. Harris's works for years, well before this series began, and when I ran across it, I was thrilled.
My first reading, however, proved disappointing. I was used to the lighter, humorous tone of the Aurora Teagarden series and was a bit unprepared for the darker Lily Bard.
And then, I loosened up and let myself go with it, and I'm all the better for it. I have encountered few characters as well drawn as Lily Bard. She is an incredibly complex character, yet painted so deftly that the reader gets a full sense of her person. While it is much easier to accomplish this feat with the first-person, as is used here, Ms. Harris allows us to learn about Lily primarily through her actions and interactions with others.
The plot itself is not out of the ordinary--someone's dead, Lily is suspected, she must find the real killer before the cops close in on her, but it's the main character that makes this novel stand out. Why, oh why hasn't someone bought the movie rights to this series?!?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2005
While out for a walk late one night, Lily Bard sees something she is sure she shouldnt be seeing. Lily has quite a past and wants no attention drawn to her, so when the police begin an investigation to solve the crime that she partially witnessed, instead of immediately stepping forward with the information she has, Lily backs off and keeps quiet...but that doesnt mean that she intends to do nothing about it... she slinks around and performs her own investigation, and what she finds along the way isnt all bad.
Shakespeares Landlord is my first Harris book outside of her wildly entertaining Sookie Stackhouse series. I am SO EXCITED to have found another great group of books. I have already ordered the entire series - now I just have to wait impatiently for them to be delivered :o( Whether or not you have read Harris before, I would recommend this book, but if you are fan of her Vamp stories, then Id definitely say give Lily Bard a try. I have only read this first installment so far, but wow was it a page turner.