Shakespeare's Counselor

(Lily Bard, #5)

Welcome back to the sleepy little town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, where secrets come to hide.

Cleaning woman and karate expert Lily Bard is a woman with a complicated past. Trying her best to cope with her terrifying memories and horrible nightmares, she decides to join a weekly group therapy session in her hometown of Shakespeare, Arkansas. At first, Lily can hardly believe the number of her fellow Shakespeareans that share her life experiences.

As it turns out, the group members' feelings aren't the only things that need sorting out -- they assemble for a session and find a woman dead, killed in bone-chilling fashion and deliberately left on display to send a twisted message. Who would commit such horrendous crime, and who is the intended recipient of the message?

Before long, Lily becomes embroiled in this disturbing murder and its aftermath, one in which the brutal killer's motives are entirely unclear. The truth is, the situation has dredged up more than a few of her own terrible secrets, and she may not be able to rest until she can untangle the who and why of this terrible crime. But can she accomplish this before the killer strikes again, and before her nightmares send her over the edge?

Besides the first, this closing book is probably the best of the series.

Lily Bard may still be stiff and socially awkward, but she's grown on me more. A lot of her past gets explored as she attempts a help support group after attacking Jack in her sleep during a routine nightmare. The women's group meetings were interesting - I do think they should have been followed up with a bit more in the second half, but they dropped off the radar page completely. I also wish we could have witnessed the reaction of her parents and family about a development with her and Jack, not to mention a big tragedy that happens to her in this book. I know she feels strange around them now, but keeping that kind of information that cut off from such good people is ridiculous.

Bobo makes a few scenes, which I enjoyed. I do wish that may have been explored a bit more, but oh well, no way to realistically do it. Jack stays true to character, although I still don't find much realism with him. There's a few new characters that come on-board for plot sake only.

The mystery is rather weak since the pool of suspects is ridiculously small - 3. By the end of the book I didn't really care who the villain ended up being. Still, the murders and twists with it were interesting enough to keep reading. I dug detective Stokes.

There is a big development in the book about something which happens to Lily. It's dark but realistic. There is not much follow-up with it, but this isn't a romance novel where everything is magically okay in the end, so that's okay. This is a personal tragedy which I think Charlaine Harris wrote quite well, from Jack's emotions to Lily's. The details were graphic enough and she didn't shy away from showing this new development to the reader. It doesn't have to do with the mystery much, although it connects very loosely in the end. The point was that this is a series about changes within Lily Bard, who I've followed for five books now.

At the end, Lily is open to more change and knowing she has become a shadow of the girl she used to be, but not seeing a way to reconnect, or if even trying that would be why. It doesn't end on a hopeless and bleak note, but it's doesn't end up on a bubbling, happy spirit. That's just never who Lily Bard will be again.

   Book Quotes:

“Probably these children were not demonic. Possibly they were quite typical. But collectively, they were hell.”