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Shakespeare’s Champion is the second book in the Lily Bard series of mystery books from author Charlaine Harris. I starting reading these books as I was a massive fan of her Southern Vampire books which the TV show True Blood is based upon.
Unlike the Southern Vampire books this series has nothing supernatural about it as it is a good old fashioned murder mystery but what it does share is the small town setting and the same easy writing style.
Shakespeare’s Champion is the second book featuring Lily Bard the tough as nails cleaning lady who moved to the town of Shakespeare to escape some traumatic incident in her past. In this book Lily is visiting the gym early one morning and discovers the body of a local builder which looks like a tragic accident but when other incidents start happening around the town it soon becomes apparent that it is no accident.
These books were a nice discovery for me as although I loved Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire books I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of a straight mystery series. It does share a lot of similarities with those books however as you really get to discover the cast of characters that inhabit the town. There is also a really easy flow to the book and a lot of it just involves Lily going about her daily life which some people might not like but I enjoy as it means that you really feel as though you are getting to know her and some of the other characters better.
Although there is something distinctly twee feeling about the writing there is nothing twee about the plot as it is quite dark in places. This one concerns racism and it gets quite dark and nasty in places and it is fascinating to read about things like this that were still happening in America in the late 90’s. For me this was the most difficult to read in the series but also was my favourite so far out of the four that I have read.
Everything isn’t tied up nicely in the end and I was left feeling frustrated with parts of the outcome but I think that is the sign of a good writer that although parts frustrated me I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see the story continue.
Lily herself is a fascinating character and one that I felt that I got to know much better in this book than the first. She is still distant with people but you see her open up a little bit more and learn a little bit more about her and her previous life before coming to Shakespeare. She also gets a love interest in this one and although no fan of romances I was curious to see where it would go given all her problems.
This is a first rate murder mystery with a dark edge to it.
After reading the first book, I had no other choice than to jump straight onto the second book in the series! I want to make a few things clear in this review, as I know that not only did I get mixed ratings on my review of the first book (Shakespeare's Landlord) but also many people got confused as I had not made things very clear. So I really want to set things straight, with this book review, and people who have not read my first review on the first book, I totally recommend that you do so that you can compare and see that this one is more clear.
Right, this is the second book in a series called "Lily Bard" by Charlaine Harris. This series has nothing to do with the "Sookie Stackhouse" series (although many people compare them, and some do get them confused). Lily Bard and Sookie Stackhouse are 2 totally different people, and please bare this in mind when reading this review, as I will constantly be talking about Lily Bard ok?
Charlaine Harris has become a well-known author over night, thanks to the TV Series: True Blood, which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse Series. I have only, so far, read the first book from that series, although I do have the sequel somewhere. The Lily Bard Series sets aside Charlaine's Supernatural genre and proves she is a versatile author and can write in more than one genre. Her writing style is amazing and I love it to bits! It captures you in seconds and that is an author you always want to check on to see if any new books have been released, or soon to be release. I have to admit, every single book of hers is on my wish list, and I hope I get to read every single one of them, eventually.
In this second book, we follow Lily Bard again. In the first few chapters, we realise that she has settled in her new town, her job, which is cleaning for most of the other residents in Shakespeare, has flourished and picked up. She now manages to fit in some karate classes and going to the gym regularly, which is great for her since she is small, and this factor can make her a likely victim.
However one morning, while opening the gym up, she finds a fellow gym member dead after having a workout, with a barbell across his throat. Lily wants to believe it's an accident, but when she compares it to the other local recent "accidents", they all have one thing in common, and that is that they have all been racially motivated. Is there any hope in Lily having a normal simple life? No there isn't, and yet again she is on the case to work out the killer, and murderer.
I totally enjoyed this book, which is a good thing, as I reckon it is just a pure fun read. I presume there is a little message behind it, which is also featured in the first book, and that is: you can't trust anybody, as it is quite possible that anyone could be the one committing the crimes. I don't know whether that is the message everyone who reads this gets, but it is the message that appeared in my head while I read this.
Now this is where most people got confused last time, I personally believe this is purely a detective/crime novel and has NOTHING to do with the Sookie Stackhouse series, as that is a crime/supernatural genre. And even though many people compare the two, I truly believe that they are totally separate and different, and I would like to get across that people should not get them confused, and personally, I can see the difference, and really don't understand why people compare them. I have read a few books from each series, and I cannot find a similarity anywhere, so far, apart from the fact that they both were created by Charlaine Harris (the author). So please, don't get them confused!
I found this book extremely interesting and I fully enjoyed it, I couldn't find any boring part at all, but personally I think the ending was normal, and not too over the top, but it wasn't predictable either, so it was an okay ending. I love the writing style, you become one with the book within the first few paragraphs, and that made it exciting and emotional, which is always an amazing thing. This is one series; I will never forget and may have to return to later on, when I get older! So yes, I would definitely re-read again.
Overall, if you like detective novels, this is surely a series for you (NOTE: This is the SECOND book in the series, and so I will frequently say "series" instead of "book" as I believe in reading a series in order!). However even though this is a detective novel, please do not let that put you off, as even though it is a detective novel, it is different from the few detective novels I've read, and in comparison, this is a stand-alone series, so do not let the genre put you off.
I hate it when you read a review, and people say: "this is strictly an adult's book and don't ever let a child read this", as that is stupid, I'm still classed as a child (since I'm only 17 at this moment), but I don't think young people's reading material should be censored. And, I admit, that in my reviews I state that no one younger than so and so years should read this, which is the case with this book, but I do turn around and say that it is purely my opinion and every single child in the world is different and so therefore some children can read adult books when others prefer their own books, so parents or extended family members, please bare in mind that this book contains vivid violence, and little sexual desires, so please be careful who you give this to (NOTE: This is common in Charlaine Harris' books).
Personally, I haven't got much of a bad thing to say about this book, apart from the stuff I have already said above, this includes that you have to be careful who you give this to, and the ending wasn't great, but again it wasn't bad either, so it was in between. I can't find any more bad things to say about this book, and why should I bother trying to pick it apart, I reckon that any other bad bits I can find, will be extremely loose and unhelpful to this review!
Unfortunately, there is no sign of this series becoming a film or TV series, which is such a shame as there's lots of potential within these books, however in a few years time, someone may pick it up, which I will be ever so pleased about, so I am wishing that this happens!
If I was allowed I would give this book 4.5 stars, but Ciao and Dooyoo, do not do half stars. The reason why I would drop the half star is because of the ending, but I have already explained that. Overall this is a book I beg you to go out and get, but please bare in mind that you HAVE to read the first book otherwise this one will make no sense what-so-ever! I would love to see more reviews on this book in the near future, as I hate seeing my review all alone! Thank you very much for reading and rating and I promise I will return those ratings later!