cover image Shakespeare's Champion

Shakespeare's Champion

Charlaine Harris. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-312-17005-9

Full of surprises, this second fast-paced and gripping Lily Bard adventure (after Shakespeare's Landlord, 1996) showcases the amateur sleuth's strength, determination and martial arts prowess. Two unsolved murders in two months have already shaken the tiny town of Shakespeare, Ark., when a third person is killed. Lily, who makes ends meet by cleaning houses, finds the body of Del Packard with a 290-pound barbell across his throat at the gym where she works out every day. Lily reasons that all three killings must be connected and are probably racially motivated. Darnell Glass, 18 years old and black, was involved in a fight with a group of white high-school boys; four weeks later, he was found beaten to death. Three weeks after that, Len Elgin, a white farmer, was shot and killed; many think his death was in retaliation for Darnell's murder. The search for a link to Del leads Lily to Howell Winthrop Jr., the owner of Winthrop Sporting Goods, where Del worked. She discovers that a white-supremacist group has secretly been organized among Winthrop's employees, and that Del got in the way. Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries, plots an engaging puzzler that's propelled smoothly along by Lily's easy, no-frills narration. (Dec.)