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Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Series #1)

Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Series #1)

4.1 240
by Charlaine Harris

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When cleaning lady Lily Bard discovers the dead body of her nosy landlord, her plan of starting a quiet new life may end in her death.


When cleaning lady Lily Bard discovers the dead body of her nosy landlord, her plan of starting a quiet new life may end in her death.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While on a late-night job in tiny Shakespeare, Ark., Lily Bard, 31, sees a furtive figure placing large plastic garbage bags in the local park and, untying one, discovers the body of her former landlord. In a quick but anonymous phone call (she is determined to avoid any questioning), she reports it to the police chief. With skill and wry wit, Harris, the author of the Aurora Teagarden series, soon reveals the horrific facts in Lily's background that explain why she is solitary, confrontational, obsessed with self-defenseand why she chooses, despite a first-rate education, to eke out a living as a cleaning woman. Realizing, however, that her fingerprints on the body of the dead man might make her a suspect, Lily subtly and insightfully queries her customers, some of them tenants of the murdered landlord, in the process meticulously evaluating their closets, drawers and motives. The renters are a well-defined lot: a happily promiscuous idler; a sanctimonious and hypocritical reverend; and an aging couple with much to grieve about. As Lily investigates, she develops a wary but cordial relationship with the police chief and forms a warmer tie with her karate instructor. But at the same time, someone has discovered the unspeakable facts about Lily's past and has begun stalking her. Harris's finely tuned, colorful and suspenseful tale, filled with vigorous and unique characters, will leave readers hoping it's the start of a series. (July)
Stuart Miller
Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden series, now 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. Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story. Expect more from crime fiction's first cleaning-lady series.
Kirkus Reviews
A new heroine for the author of the Aurora Teagarden series (The Julius House, 1995, etc.), and a far cry from that southern belle. Lily Bard owns a tiny house, next door to a small apartment building, in the tiny town of Shakespeare. She cleans houses, offices, and apartments for a living, has made no friends in her four years in Shakespeare, and spends her leisure time in fitness and karate classes run by Marshall Sedaka. Late one night, on a lonely walk, Lily sees a hooded figure pushing her loaded garbage wagon to a park across the street. Its burden turns out to be the body of Pardon Albee, nosy landlord of the apartment house. Lily anonymously calls Police Chief Claude Friedrich to report it, but her fiercely hidden past, now known to Friedrich, raises his suspicions. And so Lily feels driven to look for Albee's killer among his tenants and the townspeople—Marshall's estranged wife Thea; tenants Deedra Dean and Tom O'Hagan; and nasty drunk Norvel Whitbread, the church janitor, are only some of Shakespeare's citizens with things to hide. It takes Lily a while to come up with the right answers, even as her massive psychological sores begin to heal.

The gripping tension of the opening chapters evaporates quickly; there's also an overload of sex sessions and karate lore. Still, Lily's an ingratiating heroine, and the author's easy style makes this one an engaging breeze.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Lily Bard Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Charlaine Harris, who has been writing mysteries for over twenty years, is a native of Mississippi. Born and raised in the Delta, she began training for her career as soon as she could hold a pencil. Though her early works consisted largely of poems about ghosts and (later) teenage angst, she began writing plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, and graduated to books a few years later.

After publishing two stand-alone mysteries, Harris decided to establish a series. She began the lighthearted Aurora Teagarden books with Real Murders, which garnered an Agatha nomination.  Harris's protagonist, a diminutive Georgia librarian whose life never turns out quite the way she planned, kept Harris busy for several books, but finally Harris (and Aurora) grew restless.

The result of this restlessness was the much edgier Shakespeare series -- set not in England, but in rural Arkansas. The heroine of the Shakespeare books is Lily Bard, a tough and taciturn woman whose life has been permanently reshaped by a terrible crime and its consequences. In Shakespeare's Landlord, the first in the series, Lily is caught at a moment when the shell she's built around herself is just beginning to crack, and the books capture Lily's emotional re-entry into the world, while also being sound mysteries.

Harris's latest venture is a series about a telepathic barmaid in southern Louisiana. The first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony for best paperback mystery of 2001. Each book about Sookie Stackhouse (and her dealings with vampires and werewolves and other creatures of the night) has gathered more readers to enjoy the books' unique blend of mystery, humor, romance, and the supernatural. The Sookie books are also being read in Japan, Spain, Greece, and Great Britain.

In addition to her work as a writer, Harris is married and the mother to three children. A former weight lifter and karate student, she is an avid reader and cinemaphile. She is a member of the vestry of St. James Episcopal Church.

Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League. She is a member of the board of Sisters in Crime, and alternates with Joan Hess as president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. © 2004 Charlaine Harris

Brief Biography

Southern Arkansas
Date of Birth:
November 25, 1951
Place of Birth:
Tunica, Mississippi
B.A. in English and Communication Arts, Rhodes, 1973

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Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 237 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This series is truly her best. I read the Sookie books and look forward to the next one, but this was deeper without the vampires. I read all five books in four weeks. I am sad their are no more.
bookmavenNY More than 1 year ago
I have read Charlaine Harris' Aurora Teagarden series, and I enjoyed it. I am still finding titles that I was unable to get before. So when I was at my local Barnes & Noble and saw this series about Lily Bard, I decided to try it. I loved this book, and went back the next day and bought the rest of the series that was available. (I had to order one.) Lily is an off-beat character with a dark history. I really enjoyed this series. It is very different from the Aurora Teagarden stories, but Lily is excellent in her own way. I enjoy the difference. I wish there were more of these stories!!
lilybardfan More than 1 year ago
This first book in a series by Charlaine Harris catches your interest and doesn't let go until the surprising end. Be prepared for a mystery take multiple turns and challenges your mind right up to the end. No paranormal charters proves Ms. Harris is able to take ordinary daily events and put them into a puzzle you will not soon forget.
lsmeadows More than 1 year ago
3.5 out of 5 stars A great beginning to a new (for me) mystery series. I really enjoyed Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, and these books promise to be good, too. The main character is Lily Bard, a person who is trying to hide from her terrible past. She has been living in the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas for four years when the landlord of the apartment building where she works as a cleaning lady is murdered. Lily becomes involved in the hunt for the murderer, and thus sets the stage for the story.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised about many parts of this book. I was expecting a cozy mystery, something similar to Murder She Wrote or the Crossword Lady books. Instead I got something a bit more complex, with a protagonist that was more Kinsey Milhone (from Sue Grafton's Alphabet series) than Jessica Fletcher. I liked that Lily is a strong, though damaged woman, fighting the demons of her past. In fact, I was surprised by Lily's past as I was not expecting a character with so much baggage. To me that makes her a more interesting character to read about. In addition, there were a few other characters that I am excited to keep tabs on in the future.  In addition, the plot of the story was solid with enough innuendo and red herrings to keep me guessing. In fact, I did not guess who the murderer was at all, and when Harris revealed the perpetrator and the motive, I was definitely surprised. In fact, most of my friends who have read this book have said the same thing. The fact that Ms. Harris is able to craft a mystery that actually surprised me with it's ending is a selling point and has solidified my resolve to read the rest of the series.
KrissieTN More than 1 year ago
Lily is a harder character than Sookie or Aurora. The series is well written with Ms. Harris's signature dash of lovable rascals, and sneaky villains, and wry humor. I do love the flattering light that the author paints the south with. I am a southerner, I love the authentic southern characters, and cultural quirks. This series starts out with Lily trying to get by, and be unnoticed. A dark past haunts her, and she is desperate for a sense of normalcy. Since this is a mystery though she finds herself pulled into something, and her past is revealed to the small town she lives in.
The-Mish More than 1 year ago
Really love the character and the town that this book is set in. Glad its one of a series. Will be reading the next one!
timothyreads More than 1 year ago
Charlaine Harris consistently delivers good mysteries. This one does not disappoint. I can't believe she stopped writing this series nearly ten years ago. I hope she picks it up again! I also hope Barnes and Noble will e-publish the last two books.
Trewbeliever More than 1 year ago
This is the last Charlaine Harris' series I found. Don't judge this book by the synopsis on the back cover - Lily Bard is brave,complicated and battered by life but still empowered and moving ahead. I really appreciate how Charlaine Harris' writes the characters in all her books - especially the wommen. None of the central characters are typical or stereotypes. I have now read all the Lily Bard books and recommend them highly. Definitely sorry to finish the last one .I kept them all to read again.
Anna_Louise More than 1 year ago
This is a quick read and enjoyable. Not like the Sookie Stackhouse series however the main character is dark with a past and likeable. The Lily Bard series will be great for reading at the beach and snowy days! If you liked the Sookie Stackhouse series, you will like this series without the vampires.
Logans_Library More than 1 year ago
This novel is a far cry from Ms. Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, which I loved for their light and spritely dialog, and their fanciful and fun mileau. This book is neither light nor spritely, nor is its mileau fanciful or fun! Its story is disturbing, and Ms. Harris' language, pacing, and,"punch" (pun intended) are appropriate for the its topic and its message. Every woman should read this book if only to know what to "watch out for", and maybe to know how to "handle and respond to" violence against women. Sure....not every woman will be violated, but who's to say it won't happen to you? Read this book and become aware and prepared, just in case! The life you save may be your own!
katford11 More than 1 year ago
I am a big Charlaine Harris fan, and this book did not disappoint. I really enjoyed reading it. Lily Bard is intriguing, mysterious, and full of faults... I liked the book.
2319 More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to actually get into this book. Now that I have finished it, I can't quit thinking about the rest of the series. It isn't the best book I have ever read, but someone Charlaine Harris was able to get me hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it made me feel empowered and got me back into the gym. For women who value our strength this book is a must read.Lily becomes the familiar acquaintance that you always wish you knew better. This series is incredible and difficult the murders almost seem an excuse to learn more about Lily. Lily's tenacity and strength make her an invaluable heroine. Lily has a past that is haunting for weeks after reading the book and her recover transpires as she grows into her new comunity in Shakespeare.
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