Monday, December 14, 2009
Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris
The Lily Bard stories are billed as hard boiled cozies, and that is what this one is.
The murders are real, not just the setting for a puzzling story, and the crime behind it all is one of the most horrendous in a mystery writer's repertoire.
Lily leaves the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, to go back to her hometown of Bartley. She is to take part in her sister's Christmastime wedding. She does not look forward to an extended time with her dysfunctional family.
Then someone brutally murders a local doctor and his nurse. Lilly and her boyfriend PI Jack Leeds solve the murder and its surrounding crimes.
The juxtaposition of the shallow social goings on of the wedding with horrendous crimes and violence makes for an unusual story--part cozy with a focus on women's concerns, and part something much more chilling.
Lilly's relationship with Jack is real, filled with ups and downs, and touched with love.
Always in the background is Lily's own terrifying previous experience, a story I take to have been told in a earlier book.
To find Christmas, Lily has to return to Shakespeare.
So this is a hard boiled cozy with a Christmas setting. The real story is the story of long-term abuse which leads to murder.
This Christmas season, I continue my reading of mysteries with a Christmas setting.