|Shakespeare's Champion is the second book in the Lily Bard series, but can be read as stand alone if you should be so lucky to find this book first. This book finds Lily still cleaning away and uncovering more secrets about the residents of Shakespeare than she ever really wanted to know.
However, Lily has quite a few secrets of her own so she knows how to keep her mouth shut. When she isn't cleaning, Lily is busy going to the gym where she works on bodybuilding and karate. One morning, on her way to an early workout, she discovers a fellow gym member, dead, with a barbell across his throat. Lily desperately wants to believe that it was an accident, but there are too many other suspicious "accidents" including a young black man's unsolved murder, the bombing of a church, and many others. It appears that most of the crimes are racially motivated, but Del is a white bodybuilder who works in the sporting goods store.
How does his death fit in with the others? Lily unwillingly involves herself in investigating the crime and uses her unique vantage point and circumstances to collect information. She quickly discovers that there is something fishy in Shakespeare. Lily doesn't want to suspect one of the longtime residents, but there are only so many newcomers to town. So when Lily discovers one dark stranger showing up at the most unlikely places, such as her client's closet, it is only natural that her suspicions would fall on him...
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries and/or tough female characters. Charlaine Harris' characters are wonderful. They are quixotic combinations of practicality, spotenaity, weaknesses and strengths. I felt that I could identify with most of the characters immediately upon meeting them. It was also wonderful to get the start of a love story for Lily. True, she dabbled in a little romance in Shakespeare's Landlord (book #1 in the series), but she has a serious shot at a relationship in this book. The plot was well drawn and, I must admit, the final chapter of the book was a surprise. If you enjoyed the first one, you will love the second one. Just be aware that this is by far the most expensive book to own in the set. It isn't hard to find - just expensive!
Plot & Themes
Tone of story - very upbeat
How difficult to spot villain? - Challenging
Time/era of story:
What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot? - 50%
Special suspect? - lover
Misc. Murder Plotlets - Proving innocence of very obvious suspect
Kind of investigator
Kid or adult book? - Adult or Young Adult Book
Any non-mystery subplot?
descript. of violence and chases - 20 %
Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives - 30 %
Feelings, relationships, character bio/development - 20 %
How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) - 30 %
Crime Thriller Yes
Murder Mystery (killer unknown) Yes
Gender - Female
Age: - 20's-30's
Identity: - Male
Age: - 20's-30's
How sensitive is this character?
Sense of humor - Strong but gentle sense of humor
Intelligence - Smarter than most other characters
United States Yes
Accounts of torture and death? - moderately detailed references to deaths
Explicit sex in book? Yes
What kind of sex: - vague references
Amount of dialog - roughly even amounts of descript and dialog