Shakespeare's Christmas: A Lily Bard Mystery Paperback – 10 Nov 2011
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" Fresher, more unusual, than any other mystery I've read lately." --"The Washington Post Book World" " This one works on every level. The writing and plotting are first-rate." --"The Washington Times" " A seamless story...In her Lily Bard novels, Charlaine Harris blends a noirish atmosphere with a traditional mystery." --"Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel"
A must-read mystery from the No. 1 Bestseling author behind HBO's award winning TRUE BLOOD series!See all Product description
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Lily Bard is a maid with a past, and much, much more -- she's one of the amateur sleuth genre's most fascinating heroines. In Shakespeare, Arkansas Lily leads a relatively simple life cleaning houses, working out, and studying karate. Still struggling to deal with the physical and emotional aftermath of a terribly violent past, Lily is a complicated and mysterious woman who readers will get to know fairly well in Shakespeare's Christmas.
When Lily returns to her family's hometown of Bartley, Tennessee to participate in her sister's wedding, she (with the rather unexpected assistance of sexy boyfriend and P. I. Jack Leeds) tries to uncover the facts surrounding a mystery that is four years old. Four years ago, an infant was stolen from her parents and years later, an anonymous note arrives, indicating that the missing child is alive and living under a changed name in Bartley. As Lily and Jack search for the missing child, they start narrowing down the list of suspects, and suddenly the quiet town of Bartley is shattered by a series of violent deaths that hit close to home for Lily.
Ultimately, Lily and Jack are left with only a few possible suspects, one of whom happens to be the man Lily's sister is about to marry. Harris' ability to combine a great who-done-it with some wonderful regional southern flavor and a compelling heroine put Shakespeare's Christmas into a class of its own in mystery series.
If you're looking for a great stocking stuffer for mystery fans, you've just found it.
Lily Bard is an incredible and surprisingly complex character for the genre. After surviving a vicious gang rape and attempted murder Lily hones herself into an organic weapon with martial arts training. One thing that Lily hasn't faced up to in moving on from her troubled memories is her family. In this installment she reluctantly goes home to reunite with her family for her sister's wedding but trouble, not just of the personal kind, comes home to roost with her. Lily's new love Jack, a private detective ends up spending Christmas in her home town too, as he tracks down a missing child who was abducted years ago. The problem is that he has three likely suspects including Lily's soon to be new brother in law.
This is a wonderfully crafted novel, the mystery cracks on at a terrific pace seamlessly blending with the personal angst of the overall character arc. The reactions of Lily's parents regarding their daughter's attack are sensitively handled and Harris eschews taking the easy sloppily characterised route and delivers an uncompromising look at the darker heart of small town America.
This is a keeper and well worth shelling money out for. It would be all too easy to make Lily a whiner or self pitying but for the most part this is neatly avoided, and her tragedy is never overplayed there is a particularly lovely scene about her friendship with a boy she grew up with who is now a cop. The overall child abduction mystery keeps you guessing until the last page. I don't give 5 stars lightly but this earned it on every level.
Astute fans may early fathom the reason for the murders, although the killer's identity is less easy to deduce.
This proves a lighter read than the earlier books. Amusingly we join Lily on a Christmas parade float, reluctantly distributing candy to children. In due course she is babysitting ultra-lively young ones. Unfamiliar pursuits for a martial arts expert!
Nevertheless what happens here is more moving than before. Her family and friends are loving and genuinely care for her. They simply did not, and do not, know how best to react. Those horrendous events changed everything. However hard they try, Lily can never be what she once was.
For several reasons, serious thoughts are provoked. For victims of such savage assaults can there ever be full recovery? Charlaine Harris skilfully makes us feel for Lily and for all those who have similarly suffered.
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