Release date (book 1): 1 November 2005
Rating: ★★★★★★★ – 7/10
Goodreads link

Shakespeare’s Landlord (The Lily Bard Mysteries book 1) blurb:

Lily Bard has started over in the sleepy little town of Shakespeare, Arkansas.  She’s fiercely protective of her privacy – she’s run away to Shakespeare for a reason, but it’s no one else’s business – and she’s determined to work through the pain of her past by excelling in her chosen career: her one-woman house cleaning business.  She is just as determined to master and excel in karate.

But Lily’s determination to be an independent loner doesn’t survive the death of her nosy and unpopular landlord – for all her wish to keep a low profile, the only way Lily can see to keep herself from becoming a suspect is to find the killer herself.  And that means she has to start talking to her neighbours.  Before long, Lily’s building an actual life for herself.  Now the healing can really begin.

There are five books in this series, and they are all in the omnibus, which is how I bought them, although you can get them as individual books.

  • Shakespeare’s Landlord
  • Shakespeare’s Champion
  • Shakespeare’s Christmas
  • Shakespeare’s Trollop
  • Shakespeare’s Counselor

I’ve read a lot of Charlaine Harris’ work.  The Southern Vampire Mysteries (which then became known as the Sookie Stackhouse series), The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, the Midnight Texas trilogy, and the Harper Connelly books.  They are all unique in their own way, but there are similarities with the characters.

Primarily the biggest similarity is that the female protagonist (and it is usually a female) is hiding from something in their past.  They are secretive and a little secluded, and usually very smart.  I think this is part of what continues to draw me into the stories though – that intrigue, which is generally mixed with a well thought through plot to back it up.

Lily Bard is no different (and personally, I like the play on ‘Bard’ and ‘Shakespeare’ – I think that’s clever).  She is hiding from something in her past and when an event threatens this secret then there is hell to pay.

Lily has existed in Shakespeare for four years at the commencement of the first book.  She doesn’t really have any friends, she does her work, she works out religiously (she could have been a body builder in other circumstances), and she goes home.  She doesn’t sleep well – her history haunts her.  One night when she’s out roaming she comes across a person moving a body, using Lily’s cart.  Now she’s been implicated in a murder, and she is not happy about it.

The main characters generally flow throughout the five books – besides Lily there is Marshall, Claude, and Deedra, as well as regular clients such as the Winthrops (yes, this includes Bobo Winthrop who mysteriously turns up in the Midnight Texas series).

The series is not fast paced, but it is suspense-filled with some good twists and turns, as you would expect in a good mystery series.  I am a fan of Harris, and she tells a good story – which on a rainy day is all you can ask for.

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