Disguising herself with short hair and baggy clothes, Lily Bard has started a new life; she's becoming a cleaning lady in the sleepy town of Shakespeare, where she can sweep away the secrets of her dark and violent past.
However her plan to live a quiet, unobserved life begins to crumble when she discovers the dead body of her nosy landlord. Lily doesn't care who did it, but when the suspicion of the police and local community falls on her she realises if she doesn't unmask the murderer, her life might not just crumble: it might also end.
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: (Chapter 1): I gathered myself, my bare feet gripping the wooden floor, my thigh muscles braced for the attack.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 43): Alvah has such limited interests that cleaning is one of her few outlets for self-expression
MY THOUGHTS: Pre-dating her more famous Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series of books, though this came after the Aurora Teagarden series I think you can tell that in many ways the author was still cutting her teeth, finding her way as an author.
Though perhaps an unfair comparison, after all this series (so far) has none of the supernatural elements or sexy characters of True Blood, I really did find this a rather bland read.
The first in a series of five books, I feel CHARLAINE HARRIS was very much laying the foundations for the other books in the writing of Shakespeare's Landlord.
Concentrating more on the cleaning side and Lily's love of martial arts than on the who-dun-it (and why) element of the story, I found myself quite disappointed by this.
Lily Bard has started over in the quiet town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, as a cleaning lady. One who works out her anger and the pain in her past in a martial arts class.
For Lily, the gym is a place to get away from her troubles, not find more of them. But when she stumble on the corpse of a local bodybuilder, his neck broken with a barbell, the town's underlying racial tensions begin to boil over. The white victim was connected to two unsolved murders of black residents in Shakespeare, and a dogged policeman is determined to stop the killing. Lily may have to decide whether to stay and fight for justice, or run away one more time.
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue):The man lying on the padded bench had been working out for two hours and he was drenched with sweat.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 199): That was what I missed most, without even knowing it, in my wandering years, and my first years in Shakespeare: the little details, the intimacy, of friendship.
MY THOUGHTS: Perhaps a little stronger (but not much) than the first offering, I'm afraid at this point in the series I find Lily a totally confusing, non too believable character, some of her actions rather dubious and, well, convenient.
Something of an amateur super sleuth OR simply a martial arts loving cleaner who just happens to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time OR one of those individuals who just happens to have people, lots of people, she knows die around about her? Your guess is as good as mine.
With its grisly murders and a town rife with racial tension Shakespeare's Champion is certainly a much darker read than its predecessor but to me it is still lacking a certain intensity, the endings, somehow lacking in a real conclusion, leaving me feeling as if I've somehow missed some vital piece of the story somewhere along the line.
KEEP THEM OR NOT?: Bought as a gift, I will be passing these on.