A Lily Bard Mystery
St. Martin's Press - November 2001
ISBN: 0312277628 - Hardcover

Reviewed by Susan McBride,
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What I probably enjoy most about Charlaine Harris's series set in Shakespeare, Arkansas, is Lily Bard herself. In a town that's snug, but hardly cozy, Lily is one of those square pegs who never quite seems to fit in, which makes her the perfect observer. It doesn't hurt that her cleaning jobs give her ample cover to poke around. Only her past keeps intruding in the new life she's made for herself, and she doesn't want that to ruin her relationship with Jack Leeds, the former cop turned private eye who shares her home.

In SHAKESPEARE'S COUNSELOR, Lily decides it's time she engaged in some therapy sessions after her subconscious anger propels her to bloody Jack's nose in the middle of the night. She joins a group for rape victims led by a rather odd bird named Tamsin Lynd. Tamsin and her husband, Cliff, apparently have secrets of their own that have prompted them to move from town to town. When a new group member is found murdered--staked to the bulletin board in Tamsin's office at the health center where the therapy sessions are held--Lily finds herself entangled in a big mess that she wonders if even she can clean up.

Charlaine Harris is as solid a writer of amateur sleuth tales as you'll find out on the shelves. Her smooth prose keeps the story flowing, and her layered characterization of Lily Bard keeps her protagonist unpredictable and interesting. It's Lily's life that's the mystery, more so even than the murder investigation that unfolds. How she handles her problems, her relationships and her involvement in this strange case of SHAKESPEARE'S COUNSELOR makes for absorbing reading.

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