Authors: Charlaine Harris
|(LB1) Shakespeare's Champion|
|(LB1) Shakespeare's Champion|
Shakespeare, Arkansas, is a small Southern town with plenty of secrets, and Charlaine Harris's Lily Bard is just one more of its residents - albeit one harboring a few secrets of her own - with a desire to live quietly. Lily keeps to herself, between her job as a cleaning woman for several townspeople and her visits to the gym, where she's a devotee of karate and bodybuilding. These two pursuits seem a bit odd for the petite Southern woman, but as work and play, they keep her focused and balanced. When a fellow gym member is found dead after a workout with a barbell across his throat, Lily wants to believe it's an accident. But looking at the incident against the background of other recent events in Shakespeare, including a few incidents that appear to be racially motivated, she's afraid it could be a part of something much, much bigger - and much more sinister.
LILY BARD IS
“…one of the best-drawn and most compelling characters in contemporary mystery fiction—complex, smart, streetwise, tough.”
“Lily Bard brings new meaning to the term ‘strong woman.’”
“Full of surprises, this second fast-paced and gripping Lily Bard adventure showcases the amateur sleuth’s strength, determination, and martial arts prowess…An engaging puzzler that’s propelled along by Lily’s easy, no-frill narration.”
“Wheels within wheels in a suspense story packed with nasty characters…Lily’s stubborn, moody, gutsy persona holds it all together, and most readers will be with her to the finish.”
“A first-rate mystery.”
Midwest Book Review
“Lily Bard gives as good as she gets. The reading is fast and the action’s faster, proving that women really are the better half.”
“Precise storytelling and original characterizations…A skilled author who knows just how far to take her story…Harris again shows her thoughtful way of weaving a complex plot into a seamless, compact story.”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Harris delivers murder with a distinct edge and an amateur sleuth training to move mountains while she cleans up the town.”
“Terrific…Lily Bard is Kinsey [Millhone] and V. I. [Warshawski] multiplied by ten.”
Tulsa World continued…
“Gripping. Harris, known for her series featuring Aurora Tea-garden, takes a dark turn here, and it pays off…All in all, a fine effort from Harris.”
“Harris has done an incredible job launching her new character. The author wisely makes Lily’s past as much a part of the mystery as the murder investigation. A well-constructed psychological study that moves at a steady pace.”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“A satisfying introduction to a fascinating, complex set of characters. Just keep ’em coming.”
“Lily is a terrific character with dark shadings and stark fears…A supporting cast of quirky characters fully rendered in quick strokes will hold readers as surely as the complex resolution in this cozy on the bleeding edge of noir.”
“An ending that will take everyone by surprise…an extremely compelling read.”
“Solid, clever, and quick.”
“The best work in this fine series…The mystery is loaded with red herrings that hide the villain in plain sight so that the audience is stunned when the culprit is revealed.”
PRAISE FOR THE SOUTHERN VAMPIRE SERIES BY CHARLAINE HARRIS…
“The goofy charm of Harris’s world, with its humor and occasional terror, is what makes
Dead Until Dark
“Harris brings off this blend of mystery and vampires better than most.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Fans will appreciate this endearing protagonist who combines vulnerability with a steely spine (kind of a supernatural Steel Magnolia)…[and] will enjoy this offbeat read that combines elements of several genres to ensure that the world of Charlaine Harris seems real, one bite at a time.”
Midwest Book Review
“A fun, fast, funny, and wonderfully intriguing blend of vampire and mystery that’s hard to put down, and should not be missed.”
—Susan Sizemore, author of the Laws of the Blood series
“A genre mix refreshingly free of the expected tropes.”
“Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake looking for a lighter version of the vampire huntress should cotton to Sookie Stackhouse…Consistent, well-built characters and a strong, action-packed plot that will keep readers guessing to the end distinguish this frothy fusion of romance, mystery, and fantasy.”
“Gripping and spicy.”
“Delivered in well-written, fast-paced Southern twang that will keep you turning the pages.”
“Highly original, extraordinarily riveting, erotic, and exotic…Charlaine Harris weaves storytelling magic in a tale of vampires and small town Louisiana.”
When Secrets Die
Ace books by Charlaine Harris
DEAD UNTIL DARK
LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS
DEAD TO THE WORLD
DEAD AS A DOORNAIL
Berkley Prime Crime books by Charlaine Harris
BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 1997 by Charlaine Harris Schulz.
Cover art by Lisa Desimini.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York.
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
This book is dedicated to my newsletter group,
the Femmes Fatale
who make me laugh
more than I have since I left college.
My thanks to Larry Price and Pat Downs, who described being blown up; and to members of my karate class, who kindly enacted fight sequences and offered various lethal suggestions. Dr. John Alexander has also been polite about answering some very peculiar questions.
THE MAN LYING ON THE PADDED BENCH HAD BEEN
working out for two hours and he was drenched with sweat. His short blond hair was matted at his forehead, and his sharply etched body glistened. His hacked-off sweatshirt and shorts, originally blue but now faded, showed dark rings under the arms. It was October, but he had a glowing tan. He was exactly five feet ten inches and he weighed one hundred seventy-four pounds, both facts being of crucial importance to his regimen.
The other members of the Body Time gym had gone home an hour ago when the gym officially closed, leaving this dedicated and privileged being, Del Packard, to his solitary calling. After the others had gone, Del’s spotter arrived, wearing ancient black sweatpants and an old gray sweatshirt with the sleeves scooted up.
Del had let the spotter in with his own key, on loan from gym owner Marshall Sedaka. Del had talked Marshall into issuing him a key so Del could work out every free minute he could beg from his job. The competition was only a month away.
“I think I’m going to make it this time,” Del said. He was resting between sets. The weighted bar lay in its rack above his head. “I was second last year, but I hadn’t put in the hours I have this year. And I’ve practiced my posing every day. I’ve gotten rid of every hair on my body, and if you think Lindy has stood that without complaining, you can think again.”