No steel magnolia, Lily Bart is one blunt, tough Southern woman--a tiny, karate-chopping, bodybuilding dynamo who's come to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to restart her life after a series of traumatic events just hinted at in this second novel in Charlaine Harris's series (after Shakespeare's Landlord
). When she slips into her gym for an early morning workout and finds Del Packard with a barbell across his throat, she doesn't think for more than a second that it's an accident. Not when it's the third death in a couple of months in a town hardly big enough for its own WalMart. Then the blue broadsheets with thinly veiled hints of white supremacist activity start turning up under the windshield wipers of every car on Main Street. Lily's a relative newcomer to Shakespeare, but as a cleaning woman for the local landed gentry, she's privy to many secrets that most outsiders never learn. When a handsome stranger keeps turning up at the scene of an increasingly bizarre series of events, including a burglary at one of her regular clients and a bombing in a black church, she suspects he may be more than an innocent bystander. Which is too bad, because he stirs up desires that Lily hasn't felt for any man for a very long time. Lily Bard is a complex woman who embodies many of the contradictions of the modern South--its dark side as well as its charm--and this suspenseful, deftly written novel will send new fans scrambling to read its predecessor. --Jane Adams
From Kirkus Reviews
The author's strong, often silent heroine, Lily Bard, and Shakespeare, Arkansas, her adopted hometown, in a second appearance (Shakespeare's Landlord, 1996). Lily cleans houses for a living and works out at the BodyTime Gym. There, early one morning, she and young Bobo Winthrop discover the body of fitness enthusiast Del Packard--crushed by a weight-laden bar. Accident or murder? Police Chief Claude Freidrich, Lily's neighbor and would-be lover, doesn't have a clue. Meanwhile, Packard's death seems yet more evidence of the town's sinister atmosphere, a sense of unease going back to the not-long-ago beating death of black Darnell Glass and the killing, a few weeks later, of white farmer Lee Elgin--neither murder ever solved. Now, the racist fliers placed in car windows around town don't help. Then there's the pony-tailed stranger seen with Hollis Winthrop Jr.--one of Lily's employers and head of his family's lucrative sporting- goods business now that patriarch Hollis Sr. has retired. A frightening act of violence in the black community church prompts the stranger to reveal his true identity to Lily, and it's she, with help from an unexpected source, who rescues him as the whole ugly scenario unravels. Wheels within wheels in a suspenseful story packed with nasty characters, a few good guys, some graphic sex, and more exercise and karate lore than you ever wanted to know. Lily's stubborn, moody, gutsy persona holds it all together, and most readers will be with her to the finish. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.