Shakespeare's Christmas (Lily Bard Series #3)

Shakespeare's Christmas (Lily Bard Series #3)

4.2 162
by Charlaine Harris

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Lily Bard heads home for the holidays.

Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister’s Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides holiday cheer—there’s murder. And Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister promises to love, honor, and obey a killer.See more details below

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Lily Bard heads home for the holidays.

Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister’s Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides holiday cheer—there’s murder. And Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister promises to love, honor, and obey a killer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden cozies, adds a touch of grit to her books featuring briskly efficient, 31-year-old Arkansas cleaning lady Lily Bard. Lily hides a traumatic past under a prickly exterior, but, in the series' third book (after Shakespeare's Champion, 1997), this karate expert lowers her defenses just long enough to reconcile with her family and help solve a series of grisly murders. Returning to her home town of Bartley (a stone's throw from her residence in Shakespeare, Ark.) for her sister Varena's wedding, Lily is plunged headlong into an eight-year-old kidnapping investigation after her lover and confidant, Jack Leeds, a PI with a questionable past, arrives to follow up an anonymous tip that the kidnapper and the missing girl are both in Bartley. When the town's beloved family practitioner, his nurse and a young mother are bludgeoned to death, suspicion falls on Varena's fiance--a widower who just happens to have an eight-year-old daughter. The investigation intensifies, and Lily uses her family connections and her impeccable cleaning skills to ferret out some crucial information. Harris tells a forceful story with a complex, flawed heroine who is wary of emotional attachments. The denizens of Bartley--the shrewd sheriff; old high-school classmates with long memories; Lily's loving but overprotective parents--form a memorable gallery of secondary characters. Harris's blend of cozy style with more hard-boiled elements isn't always smooth, but it's interesting to see her working toward a deeper complexity. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Returning home for her sister's Christmas wedding, Lily Bard--cleaning woman, karate expert, and amateur sleuth--finds more than just mistletoe: two murders and a four-year-old unsolved kidnapping. [See review on p. 128.--Ed.]
Kirkus Reviews
But it's neither Shakespeare nor Christmas, actually, since Lily Bard, the most formidable cleaning woman in Shakespeare, Ark., leaves her adopted hometown in the opening chapter to return to her family's queasy bosom in Bartley for her sister Varena's wedding, a Christmas Eve affair that's bound to upstage the usual round of holiday festivities. What it doesn't upstage is a long-unsolved kidnaping—-the snatching of newborn Summer Dawn Macklesby from her family's porch eight years before, a crime that springs to alarming life again courtesy of an anonymously donated newspaper clipping announcing that Summer Dawn is one of the three eight-year-olds pictured. The candidates: Varena's next-door neighbor Eve Osborn, her minister's daughter Krista O'Shea, and Anna Kingery, daughter of Varena's intended. Lily, who's herself the survivor of a brutal abduction and would rather be working than socializing anyway, isn't about to back down from this challenge, particularly after she and Varena stumble on the bodies of Dr. Dave LeMay and his nurse Binnie Armstrong—-a powerful reminder that the Macklesby kidnaping has yet to be laid to rest. The detection is routine (Lily snoops around as she cleans the suspects' houses), and bucolic Bartley is no Shakespeare. Only Lily herself, in full attack mode, carries the day. .

From the Publisher
"Fresher, more unusual, than any other mystery I've read lately."
The Washington Post Book World

"This one works on every level. The writing and plotting are first-rate."
The Washington Times

"A seamless story...In her Lily Bard novels, Charlaine Harris blends a noirish atmosphere with a traditional mystery."
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Lily Bard Series , #3
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"No," I said, relieved to be able to speak the truth. When I'd been arranging my week off work, after my employers got over the shock of my asking, they'd been almost universally delighted to hear that I was going to my sister's wedding. They couldn't tell me fast enough that it was fine for me to miss a week. They'd asked about my sister's age (twenty-eight, younger than me by three years), her fiancé (a pharmacist, widowed, with a little daughter), and what I was going to wear in the wedding. (I didn't know. I'd sent Varena some money and my size when she said she'd settled on bridesmaids' dresses, but I hadn't seen her selection.)

"So when can I see you?" Jack asked.

I felt a warm trickle of relief. I was never sure what was going to happen next with us. It seemed possible to me that someday Jack wouldn't call at all.

"I'll be in Bartley all the week before Christmas," I said. "I was planning on getting back to my house by Christmas Day."

"Miss having Christmas at home?" I could feel Jack's surprise echoing over the telephone line.

"I will be home--here--for Christmas," I said sharply. "What about you?"

"I don't have any plans. My brother and his wife asked me, but they didn't sound real sincere, if you know what I mean." Jack's parents had both died within the past four years.

"You want to come here?" My face tensed with anxiety as I waited to hear his answer.

"Sure," he said, and his voice was so gentle I knew he could tell how much it had cost me to ask. "Will you put up mistletoe? Everywhere?"

"Maybe," I said, trying not to sound as relieved as I was, or as happy as I felt. I bit my lip, suppressing a lot ofthings. "Do you want have a real Christmas dinner?"

"Turkey?" he said hopefully. "Cornbread dressing?"

"I can do that."

"Cranberry sauce?"

"English peas?"

"Spinach Madeleine," I countered.

"Sounds good. What can I bring?"

"Wine." I seldom drank alcohol, but I thought with Jack around a drink or two might be all right.

"OK. If you think of anything else, give me a call. I've got some work to finish up here within the next week, then I have a meeting about a job I might take on. So I may not get down there until Christmas."

"Actually, I have a lot to do right now, too. Everyone's trying to get extra cleaning done, giving Christmas parties, putting up trees in their offices."

It was just over three weeks until Christmas. That was a long time to spend without seeing Jack. Even though I knew I was going to be working hard the entire period, since I counted going home to the wedding as a sort of subcategory of work, I felt a sharp pang at the thought of three weeks' separation.

"That seems like a long time," he said suddenly.


Having admitted that, both of us backed hastily away.

"Well, I'll be calling you," Jack said briskly.

He'd be sprawled on the couch in his apartment in Little Rock as he talked on the phone. His thick dark hair would be pulled back in a ponytail. The cold weather would have made the scar on his face stand out, thin and white, a little puckered where it began at the hairline close to his right eye. If Jack had met with a client today, he'd be wearing nice slacks and a sports coat, wing tips, a dress shirt, and a tie. If he'd been working surveillance, or doing the computer work that increasingly formed the bulk of a private detective's routine, he'd be in jeans and a sweater.

"What are you wearing?" I asked suddenly.

"I thought I was supposed to ask you that." He sounded amused, again.

I kept a stubborn silence.

"Oh, OK. I'm wearing--you want me to start with the bottom or the top?--Reeboks, white athletic socks, navy blue sweatpants, Jockeys, and a Marvel Gym T-shirt. I just got home from working out."

"Dress up at Christmas."

"A suit?"

"Oh, maybe you don't have to go that far. But nice."

"OK," he said cautiously.

Christmas this year was on a Friday. I had only two Saturday clients at the moment, and neither of them would be open the day after Christmas. Maybe I could get them done on Christmas morning, before Jack got here.

"Bring clothes for two days," I said. "We can have Friday afternoon and Saturday and Sunday." I suddenly realized I'd assumed, and I took a sharp breath. "That is, if you can stay that long. If you want to."

"Oh, yes," he said. His voice sounded rougher, darker. "Yes, I want to."

"Are you smiling?"

"You could say so," he affirmed. "All over."

I smiled a little myself. "OK, see you then."

"Where'd you say your family was? Bartley, right? I was talking to a friend of mine about that a couple of nights ago."

It felt strange to know he had talked about me. "Yes, Bartley. It's in the Delta, a little north and a lot east of Little Rock."

"Hmmm. It'll be OK, seeing your family. You can tell me all about it."

"OK." That did sound good, realizing I could talk about it afterward, that I wouldn't come home to silence and emptiness, drag through days and days rehashing the tensions in my family.

Instead of saying this to Jack, I said, "Good-bye."

I heard him respond as I laid the receiver down. We always had a hard time ending conversations.

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