Review of “Shakespeare’s Landlord” by Charlaine Harris

This is the first of a dark but “cozy” mystery series by the author of the Sookie Stackhouse books that is set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. The main protagonist, Lily, wanted to pick up and start her life over, and settled on this town because her last name is Bard.

Lily, thirty-one, was the victim of a sensational kidnap, slashing, and rape case in Memphis four years previously. She now seeks a quiet life where she hopes she can live anonymously. She cleans houses, does errands for the elderly, and takes self-defense classes three times a week. She works out at both a gym and at home, trying to dispel some of her anger and fear, and eager to become someone who could never again be successfully attacked by anyone. At night, she takes long walks before she can go to sleep without frightening dreams.

When Lily, on one of her walks, sees a body dumped in the park close to her house, she fears that telling the police could bring too much attention to her and result in everyone finding out about her past. Thus, she decides to try to solve the crime herself, and of course, almost gets killed in the process. But in addition, she finds she can actually get close to a man again, as she begins tentative relationships both with her teacher of goju karate, and with the chief of police.

Evaluation: This is the first in a series of books about Lily Bard, whom Harris portrays with a keen and compassionate sense of the psychology of victims of sexual abuse crimes. Like other women in Harris’s books, Lily is tough but eminently likeable. Neither violence nor sex is portrayed with gratuitous details, and in spite of some dark aspects, this book feels light and warm. It also has a full complement of the eminently realistic eccentric characters with whom Harris peoples her books. Reading a book by Charlaine Harris is like meeting with your favorite neighbor in a small Southern town over coffee and cookies in her kitchen and having a cozy chat with lots of juicy gossip. I look forward to reading other books in the series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by St. Martin’s Press, 1996

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10 Responses to Review of “Shakespeare’s Landlord” by Charlaine Harris

  1. Sandy says:

    I never picked up the vampire series just because I’m tired of them, but this I could get behind. It sounds like an easy diversion, a nice break from other stuff. I usually turn to mystery thrillers for that.

  2. i got into ‘cozy’ mysteries a while back when i started listening to them as audio books on my commute. i haven’t read any of the stackhouse novels despite everyone raving about them.

    this new series sounds like something i could get into–hope they have them on audio. 🙂

  3. Julie P. says:

    Sounds good. I can barely think about starting another series when I’ve only read one of the Sookie books!

  4. EL Fay says:

    I’ve heard that Harris is very realistic when it comes to rape and its impact on survivors. I’ve only read one of the Sookie books, though, and wasn’t impressed with her writing at all. One of those rare cases where the screen adaptation is better than the book.

  5. Jenners says:

    Jeez … Charlaine Harris is prolific!! I’m happy for you as I know you’ve enjoyed her other series.

  6. zibilee says:

    I had no idea that Harris wrote anything other than the Southern Vampire series, and after reading this review, I think it sounds rather intriguing. I am going to have to check these out and will be interested in hearing what you think of the others in this series! Great review!

  7. Rural View says:

    I like Harris (although not the vampire series) and this heroine sounds interesting. It’s going on my list right away.

  8. marthalama says:

    I just never really got into the Sookie Stackhouse books and I’m not sure about the rest of her work but I think I’ll give this one a try.

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    Still haven’t read Harris. I really need to get on that 🙂

  10. Rita K says:

    I read this one a while ago and enjoyed it.

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