Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris

Lily Bard has lived in Shakespeare, Arkansas for four years. She cleans houses for a living, goes to the gym and the grocery store, and otherwise keeps herself to herself. She doesn't want to be noticed, because then she might be recognized.

One night, unable to sleep, Lily takes a late walk through Shakespeare. It's a familiar route, one she takes on her bad nights when she knows sleep will be slow in coming. Near her home she sees a figure carrying something in her trash bin cart. The figure takes the something to a park across the street and when it returns the cart is empty. Unable to stand the thought that a child might find what she thinks has been dumped, Lily waits a while, then goes to check it out. Sure enough, a body is double bagged in black garbage bags. She checks for a pulse and then makes an anonymous call to her neighbor, the chief of police. But she won't be able to stay anonymous for long...

I have torn through two of Charlaine Harris' other series (Sookie Stackhouse and Aurora Teagarden) and decided to try this one. Its a darker mystery than either of the series I've already read, with a damaged heroine who lacks Sookie's naivete or Roe's gumption. But what Lily does have is determination and strength, and her growing confidence throughout the book is realistic. The mystery is also more prominent in the plot of this novel than it is in the other two series, and I really enjoyed watching the pieces come together. I highly recommend this early Charlaine Harris series to fans of her other novels as well as those who like milder mystery stories.

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