Review of “Shakespeare’s Counselor” by Charlaine Harris

This is the fifth and last book of Harris’s series taking place in Shakespeare, Arkansas and featuring Lily Bard.

Four years previously, Lily was the victim of a vicious knifing and gang rape attack. Now she is married, but she still hasn’t come to grips with the fear and pain. Her husband Jack suggests she see a rape counselor, and she reluctantly joins a group in town led by Tamsin Lynd.

It soon turns out that Lynd herself is being victimized by a dangerous stalker, and when the bodies start piling up, the past traumas of all of the women in the group bubble to the surface.

Discussion: This book, in the guise of a cozy mystery, is actually an excellent exploration of the problems of women and violence. In the rape counseling group, the women discuss all the pertinent issues that commonly are debated, such as who is to blame:

“The problem of responsibility was a knotty one. Women dress provocatively to attract sexual attention and admiration, because that’s gratifying. I believed that very few women would wear a push-up bra, a low-cut blouse, high heels, tight skirts, if they were going to stay home working on the computer, for example. But sexual attention does not equate with rape. I knew of no woman who would walk out the door for an evening of barhopping with the idea that maybe she would enjoy being forced at knifepoint to give a blow job to a stranger. And very few women walked alone at night hoping a man would offer them a choice between sex and strangulation.”

Two of the women in the group had actually killed their assailants. One had no regrets whatsoever, and one wondered whether God would have preferred that she die herself rather than commit murder.

They discuss how women can overcome violence and keep themselves safe. Not all the women in the group agree on all issues, enabling Harris to present multiple viewpoints.

Still, this isn’t just a dark story. Harris comes through with her typical brand of understated humor:

Tamsin: “Okay, while I was in there, I dropped everything. I spilled all my papers from my notebook and knocked my pop over.”

Lily: “After a brief vision of Tamsin pushing down an old man with white hair, I realized she meant she’d spilled a soft drink. Maybe it was a northern or Midwestern thing?

Evaluation: Have I said lately how much I love Charlaine Harris? Her books are quick reads, but always worth the time, in my opinion.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Minotaur Books, 2001

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12 Responses to Review of “Shakespeare’s Counselor” by Charlaine Harris

  1. Sandy says:

    Believe it or not, but I have yet to read one thing of hers. I know it is because dipping into a series implies a future commitment, and while I am willing to do it with some authors, I kind of know that if I start Harris, I will be compelled to finish.

  2. Julie P. says:

    I’m so into cozies right now. I’ve only read one Sookie but this series sounds cute too.

  3. Jenners says:

    The excerpt about the rape stuff was really thought-provoking. Reminds me of that Jodie Foster movie The Accused.

  4. Anbolyn says:

    Hmmm… I’ll have to give her another try. I read the first Sookie book and didn’t care for it.

  5. Lisa says:

    This definitely doesn’t sound like a cozy mystery! But it does sound like a good read. I didn’t have this series on my radar; going to have to add them to the wish list.

  6. Margot says:

    Hurray for the author for raising thought provoking issues in the midst of a good story.

  7. Mystica says:

    I haven’t read her books but I like the idea of a quick read and something substantial together. You get the best of both worlds.

  8. Staci says:

    I feel like there are so many great series out there and now you’ve added another one to my out-of-control list….where shall I start??? 😀

  9. Rural View says:

    I should read this one; the topic is certainly an issue that interests me. As long as Harris has injected a good dose of her humor, I’ll be fine.

  10. Trisha says:

    I should read this series, but I really should finish all of the other series I have going first! It’s getting ridiculous. 🙂

  11. zibilee says:

    I know Harris is an amazing author, but I had no idea that these books were so relevant and touched on so many important ideas and thoughts. I want to check out the first in this series. Great review, by the way, your quotes really were perfect.

  12. raidergirl3 says:

    I loved this series. They were quite dark – I’d call them cozies with sharp teeth? Part of what I liked was that the series actually ended – just the five books. A perfect little series.

    I preferred these to Sookie.

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