Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Review: Shakespeare's Landlord
Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Reasons for reading: Recommended by Raidergirl; Triple 8 Challenge Mystery list; April book for Every Month is a Holiday Challenge (April 23, Shakespeare's birthday)
First line: "I gathered myself, my bare feet gripping the wooden floor, my thigh muscles braced for the attack."
Summary (from Booklist): Charlaine Harris "introduces Lily Bard, resident of Shakespeare, Arkansas, a woman fiercely protective of her privacy, determined to succeed as a one-woman cleaning agency, and just as fiercely determined to excel in karate. When the unpopular and very nosy owner of the apartment building next door is murdered and the body dumped in the local park, Lily reports the body to the police--anonymously. The local police chief, however, is nobody's fool and quickly discovers Lily's involvement and her own past, which makes her a possible suspect. Given the situation and, since she cleans for many of the other possible suspects, some opportunities, Lily decides that the only way to clear her name is to find the real killer."
My thoughts: Charlaine Harris seems like a very prolific writer - I've had people recommend her for both vampire lit and Southern lit. I think I'll definitely be checking out more of her work, because I enjoyed this book. To me it wasn't so much about the mystery (I didn't really care who had killed Pardon, the landlord), it was about Lily and her relationships with her clients and the other townspeople of Shakespeare. Harris sucks you in immediately, wondering why Lily walks alone at night, why she takes martial arts, and what caused her terrible scars. Lily is smart and sardonic and I enjoyed her progression from being utterly guarded and alone to starting to trust and like other people. We learn about the town and its people (many of whom are suspects) through Lily's housecleaning jobs - ditzy blonde Deedra, whose rent-paying step-daddy wouldn't like to know she's sleeping with a black man; "reformed" drunk and church janitor Norvel, who has a violent streak; hunky martial arts instructor Marshall and his estranged wife Thea, who has a dark side the townspeople have never seen and police chief Claude Friedrich, who's in charge of finding the killer and finds himself intrigued by Lily.
A dark, suspenseful book with an ass-kicking heroine!