Lily Bard Mystery
heroines are getting more and more respect, especially ones with
troubled pasts. Barbara Seranella’s “Munch” Mancini,
Sarah Strohmeyer’s Bubbles “Erin Brockovich” Yablonsky,
meet cleaning woman and PI Lily Bard, currently residing in the
small Arkansas town of Shakespeare. Small towns are notorious for
hiding secrets. Fortunately, with the exception of perfect-seeming
preacher’s wife Sandy McCorkindale, none of the women appear
to be Stepfordized; quite the opposite. This is the quirkiest small
town mystery setting I’ve run across in my tenure as a reviewer.
Lily wants is to put the turbulent past behind her, but her secret
hubby Jack Leeds gets tired of being attacked when Lily has her
bad dreams about the biker who raped her. Lily finds herself in
a sexual assault survivors support group, led by mystery figure
Tamsin Lynd, whose name is as outrageous as her past, which makes
her a perfect fit for Shakespeare, especially when the sister of
one of the support group attendees is murdered at her health center.
pressure is tightened by the arrival of a mysterious African-American
detective from Ohio, the only other person of color besides fellow
group member Firella. Detective Stokes, working with Lily’s
chief of police friend Claude Friedrich, has an agenda involving
the mysterious Tamsin. Like the notorious Scott Peterson, Tamsin’s
behavior raises suspicions: Why is a woman’s empowerment counselor
hiding out under a desk while one woman is murdered and another
injured? Not exactly a Lifetime TV moment of courage. Of course,
Tamsin is being stalked, which might drive anyone over the edge.
Lily, who’s good at cutting through the dirt, sets out to
find the truth behind Stokes and Tamsin. While she’s at it,
Lily must help herself and Jack find a way to come to terms with
the past and keep the life they’ve built for themselves.
elegant, spare prose creates a memorable heroine and one of the
great man-woman relationships in mystery fiction, as well as tragedy,
emotional depth and an ending you won’t anticipate…unless
you’re from Shakespeare.
Kristin Johnson is the author of CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR
GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My
Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written
with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D.