Series: The Lily Bard Mysteries #1
I love audio books. In the author’s notes on the audio version of Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, he talks about how the first stories we learn are read to us. I listen to audio books when I’m in the car, shopping, and playing Candy Crush. In typical book blogger fashion, I already have a tbr shelf just for audio books. Reviewing them is a bit more difficult, because I don’t take notes and I don’t always know how to spell the characters names. So these reviews will be a little less structured.
Shakespeare’s Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries #1) by Charlaine Harris
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.
Shakespeare’s Landlord almost feels like a cozy mystery, but Harris adds some darkness and character depth that stops the book just short of cutesy. While there are eccentric characters, even the supporting cast has edges. Main character Lily Bard is not unlike Harper Connelly from another of Charlaine Harris’ mystery series. It took me awhile to warm up to Lily, actually, she was almost too sharp and rigid for me to relate to. She’s also a hell of a lot more level minded and practical than I am. She cleans, and enjoys cleaning, and she grocery shops once a weeks, then cooks meals for the whole week in one day. *shakes head in amazement* Sadly, I have more in common with Stephanie Plum than Lily Bard.
I did eventually warm up to Lily though, I think we may even end up friends. The mystery was good, not horribly complex but still intriguing. I figured out a few things, but not the motivation for the crime. There is also so romance here, but even that is pretty practical because we’re dealing with Lily Bard. Although she becomes involved with one hottie, there’s a certain sheriff that I’m willing to bet will eventually become something more.
Lily’s background story, why she’s in the town of Shakespeare and why she is the way she is now, is heartbreaking. Like I said, this is not a cozy mystery, and Lily’s past is not a pretty one. However, learning about it was one of the best part of the book because once I knew it I was able to see Lily in a different light and understood why she’s so taciturn and abrupt with other people.
So, in the end, I liked the story, liked the characters, and will most likely continue with the series. I can’t tell you how far off this is from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Like the Harper Connelly books, it almost feels like these were written by another author. Lily is so much stronger and independent than Sookie. None of the men are as hot as Eric Northman- seriously, who is?- the fact that the main heroine can kick ass on her own is very nice. The romance is only part of Lily’s story, and it takes a backseat whenever the hell she tells it to.
Julia Gibson narrates the Lily Bard Mysteries. She has a nice, calm, soothing voice that sounds at home best when it’s delivering a line with a southern accent. Gibson does the male voices quite well too. I liked the emotion that she put in the narration and could tell when Lily was saying things out loud or when she as just thinking them- which is a gift, I’m telling you! The only time I was taken out of the book was the parts that were obviously re-recorded- her voice was much sharper in those moments, instead of the smooth calm, disc jockey voice I’d been accustomed too.
This is the first book I’ve listened to by Julia Gibson, but I enjoyed her reading of Shakespeare’s Landlord. I don’t know if I’d buy an audiobook just because she narrates (like I do for Khristine Hvam and Jim Dale), but I wouldn’t ever avoid a book because she narrates it. Her voice was a good fit for Lily Bard, and I’m thinking I’ll stick with the audiobooks for the rest of the series.