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Publisher's Summary

From the Anthony Award-winning author of the immensely popular Sookie Stackhouse mysteries comes the first book starring Lily Bard, a reclusive cleaning lady with a penchant for karate. When Lily finds and reports a dead body, her shady past and connections to potential perpetrators make her a leading suspect.
©1996 Charlaine Harris; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"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-defense - and why she chooses, despite a first-rate education, to eke out a living as a cleaning woman....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." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Lily Bard is] the equal of Kay Scarpetta." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Bonnie
  • Bellmore, NY, United States
  • 06-16-11

If your looking for Sookie leave this series alone

Lilly is a woman with a traumatized past who overcame much, and is just trying to learn to live with her demons. She is intelligent, and a fighter, not wanting to ever be at the mercy of any one again. I'm up to the 5th book in the series. Lilly Bard is a difficult character, and not a charming or sweet thing, she is tough and doesn't take things for granted. I thing Charlaine Harris is an amazing writer and can create interesting characters. I'm really enjoying this series, sorry it will end with book five, but who knows maybe Ms Harris will decide to continue. I like very much.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Started with promise

I am a big Charlaine Harris fan, I was very excited when this became available, it started with promise, proceeded to dry and ended flat.
Charlaine has a dry sense of humor that she normally weaves through out her books, along with intrigue and guise, and this book was sadly lacking her normal luster.
As a side note this is not a supernatural book, which was actually intriguing for me at first since I am used to her sci-fi/fantasy books, but as I said this book was for me disappointing.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good, straight-forward mystery

This is the first of Charlaine Harris' "Shakespeare" series and, I believe, one of her earliest mysteries. There are none of the supernatural/paranormal elements that you might expect from her better known, more recent, work.

The Shakespeare series is set in a small Southern town and features a young, single "woman with a past" as the main character. Lily Bard moved to Shakespeare after surviving a horrific rape & assault. She started working as a house cleaner and began studying martial arts. Her work as a cleaning lady gives her an interesting perspective on other residents of the town, and her study of martial arts gives her a feeling of being able to control herself and deal with the unexpected. Up until now she has stayed below the radar, but when she unexpectedly finds a dead body she begins to come out of her self-imposed isolation and get a bit more involved.

I enjoy this series, and recommend reading it in publication order so that you can best appreciate the way the characters grow & develop.

The narrator does a good job - just a hint of "Southern" and just enough differentiation between characters so that you can keep track of who is speaking more easily.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting Early Work

I recently discovered Charlaine Harris and I've been rapidly working my way through all her recorded works. I was thrilled to find that this early work had made it to recorded form. Originally published back in 1996, I think this is Harris' first or second published book. It's a simply mystery/suspense format - no supernatural players. Her main characters are interesting, complex, not always likable, which adds interest. She also wrote a great mystery - lots of twists and turns, many potential villains, but enough clues for an astute reader to figure it out. Her later promise is apparent in this early work.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting mystery

This was a fairly good mystery. Lily, has reason to live with great care, working as a cleaning woman, taking self-defense classes and trying to quietly remake her life after a harrowing ordeal in her past. Her quiet life is suddenly changed when she witnesses what she quickly realizes was someone moving a dead body. From there, she feels she must find the murderer alone, rather than risk having to reveal all the reasons she keeps to herself. There are many candidates for the murderer, and despite herself, Lily not only proves to be good at detecting, but begins to get a bit closer to a few people. Although the police chief does not initially care for her acting on her own, by the end of the book, he has a newfound respect for her courage and assistance.

In the first five minutes of this book, the author chose to use a demeaning racial comment, that serves no purpose to the rest of the story. There could have been any number of other similes she could have chosen, and it was hard not to wonder why it had been stuck in there at all. This left some distaste in my mind for the remainder of the book. However, with that qualification, I have to admit that the series most likely will be entertaining in future episodes. It's not great, but it was entertaining.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Morrighan
  • ROCK HILL, SC, United States
  • 06-23-11


I have read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books and was very pleased to see that Charlaine Harris had books about Lily Bard Leeds (a character that makes a couple appearances in the Sookie books). I have read all of the Lily Bard books and love the character (more than Sookie). These books are some of Harris's earlier work and may not be as polished as the more recent books, but they are still a good read. Lily is one of Harris's best character, in my opinion.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 01-17-10

OK but not complelling

Shakespeare's Landlord has nice writing and a pleasant protagonist and a few of the side characters were sort of interesting but the story was pedestrian. I really liked the True Blood and Grave Sight series but Shakespeare's Landlord and Real Murders had stories and side characters that were not compelling enough to maintain my interest.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Wendy
  • Virginia Beach, VA, United States
  • 05-26-13

Just Okay

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Maybe. it's not bad, just not really good. Very little character development, very little suspense but it was somewhat entertaining.

What was most disappointing about Charlaine Harris’s story?

Lack of character development and also a number of various characters that really didn't have much of a role in the story. All in all this seemed like an half hearted effort by the author.

Did Shakespeare's Landlord inspire you to do anything?

Nothing. This was not an inspirational story.

Any additional comments?

Again, the book was okay. It wasn't offensive or terrible. It was just okay.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Can't turn it off

Loved this audiobook.. Great story with twists and turns and a main character that has her faults but you can relate to. Julia Gibson has a wonderful way with narration.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Julia Gibson made every ancillary character more interesting than Lily Bard. No dramatic tension...tedious listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Loki
  • 03-24-16

Kept me hooked

Engaging characters, tricky plot
A cleaning lady hears and sees things, and Lily's past makes her reluctant to go straight to the police. I was completely gripped and very satisfied with the way all the plot clues mesh.

  • Overall
  • Tracy
  • 10-08-09

I love this series.

I really hope that we get the complete series.
The narrator is just right for Lily.