Read Shakespeare's Christmas Online

Authors: Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Christmas

Shakespeare's Christmas
Harris, Charlaine
Penguin (2008)

SUMMARY:
Determined to move beyonde her violent past, Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister's Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides holiday cheer - murder. The town's doctor and nurse have been bludgeoned to death - and Lily's detective boyfriend has followed an eight-year-old kidnapping case straight to Bartley. It just might have something to do with the murders. And her sister's widower fiancé. With only three days before the wedding, Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister promises to love, honor, and obey a killer.

Table of Contents
 
 
LILY BARD
“[is] the equal of Kay Scarpetta, Kinsey Millhone,
and V. I. Warshawski.”

Library Journal
PRAISE FOR
SHAKESPEARE’S CHRISTMAS
“Harris blends a noirish atmosphere with a traditional mystery. Rather than just another amateur-sleuth mystery, Harris conjures a seamless story that delves below the surface of small-town life . . . [She] takes chances with this unique series.”

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
 
“Harris writes her gem in a crisp, clean, and taut style . . . A nail-biter.”
—Tulsa World
 
“Harris tells a forceful story with a complex, flawed heroine.
The denizens of Bartley form a memorable gallery of secondary characters.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“Lily Bard is one of the best-drawn and most compelling characters in contemporary mystery fiction—complex, smart, streetwise, tough . . . Tight plotting and a smooth style . . . Harris has reached a new high. Don’t miss it.”
—Booklist
 
“Rural flavor, small-town wedding activities, and the psychological remnants of Lily’s long-ago ordeal temper an increasingly involving plot.”
—Library Journal
 
“Harris has a gift for depicting small-town Southern life with humor and candor. The Lily Bard series has a sharper, grittier edge than her Aurora Teagarden series . . . If Lily flinches, it’s not for long, no matter how much it hurts.”
—Mostly Murder
 
“Lily herself, in full attack mode, carries the day.”
—Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR
SHAKESPEARE’S LANDLORD
“Gripping. Harris, known for her series featuring Aurora Teagarden, takes a dark turn here, and it pays off ... All in all, a fine effort from Harris.”
—Albuquerque Journal
 
“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
 
PRAISE FOR
SHAKESPEARE’S CHAMPION
“Full of surprises, this second fast-paced and gripping Lily Bard adventure showcases the amateur sleuth’s strength, determination, and martial arts prowess.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“Lily’s stubborn, moody, gutsy persona holds it all together, and most readers will be with her to the finish.”
—Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)
 
PRAISE FOR
SHAKESPEARE’S TROLLOP
“Lily is a terrific character with dark shadings and stark fears . . . [A] cozy on the bleeding edge of noir.”
—Booklist
 
“Solid entertainment.”
—Library Journal
 
PRAISE FOR
SHAKESPEARE’S COUNSELOR
“Solid, clever, and quick.”
—Library Journal
PRAISE FOR THE SOUTHERN VAMPIRE NOVELS BY
CHARLAINE HARRIS
 
“The goofy charm of Harris’s world, with its humor and occasional terror, is what makes
Dead Until Dark
so delightful.”
—The Denver Post
 
“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.”
—Locus
 
“Fans of Laurell 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.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“Gripping and spicy.”
—Booklist
 
“Delivered in a well-written, fast-paced Southern twang that will keep you turning the pages.”
—Cemetery Dance
 
“Highly original, extraordinarily riveting, erotic, and
exotic . . . Charlaine Harris weaves storytelling magic
in a tale of vampires and small-town Louisiana.”
—Lynn Hightower,
author of
When Secrets Die
Ace Books by Charlaine Harris
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels
DEAD UNTIL DARK
LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS
CLUB DEAD
DEAD TO THE WORLD
DEAD AS A DOORNAIL
DEFINITELY DEAD
ALL TOGETHER DEAD
FROM DEAD TO WORSE
MANY BLOODY RETURNS
edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner
WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE
edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner
 
Berkley Prime Crime Books by Charlaine Harris
The Harper Connelly Mysteries
GRAVE SIGHT
GRAVE SURPRISE
AN ICE COLD GRAVE
The Lily Bard Mysteries
SHAKESPEARE’S LANDLORD
SHAKESPEARE’S CHAMPION
SHAKESPEARE’S CHRISTMAS
SHAKESPEARE’S TROLLOP
SHAKESPEARE’S COUNSELOR
The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries
REAL MURDERS
A BONE TO PICK
THREE BEDROOMS, ONE CORPSE
THE JULIUS HOUSE
DEAD OVER HEELS
SWEET AND DEADLY
A SECRET RAGE
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
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.
 
SHAKESPEARE’S CHRISTMAS
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
 
Copyright © 1998 by Charlaine Harris.
 
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: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-0-425-22497-7
 
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.
BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design
are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Dean James: reader, writer, friend,
and bookseller extraordinaire.
Acknowledgments
My thanks to all who gave me information and advice while I was writing this book: retired police chief Phil Gates, go-between Ann Hilgeman, private detective Norma Rowell, and fingerprint expert M. Nolte.
Chapter 1
MY SITUATION WAS AS SURREAL AS ONE OF THOSE slo-mo nightmares Hollywood uses to pad B movies.
I was sitting in the bed of a moving Dodge Ram pickup. I was enthroned on a wobbly plastic lawn chair, thinly disguised by a red plush couch throw edged with fringe. A crowd lined both sides of the street, waving and yelling. From time to time, I dipped my hand into the white plastic bucket settled on my lap, coming up with a fistful of candy to pitch to the spectators.
Though I was clothed, which I understand is not the case in many dreams, my clothes were hardly typical. I was wearing a red Santa hat with a big white ball on the end, bright new green sweats, and I had a disgusting artificial holly corsage pinned to my chest. I was trying to smile.
Spotting a familiar face in the crowd, a face pasted with an unconcealed smirk, I pitched the next peppermint with deliberate accuracy. It smacked my neighbor, Carlton Cockroft, right in the middle of the chest, wiping off that smirk for at least a second.
The pickup paused, continuing a familiar and irritating pattern that had begun minutes after the parade had started lurching down Main Street. One of the bands ahead of us had stopped to blare out a Christmas song, and I had to smile and wave at the same damn people over and over until the song was finished.
My face hurt.
At least in the green sweats, with a layer of thermal underwear underneath, I was fairly warm, which was more than I could say for the girls who had enthusiastically agreed to ride on the Body Time float directly ahead. They also were wearing Santa hats, but below the hats they wore only scanty exercise outfits, since at their age making an impact was more important than staying comfortable and healthy.
“How you doing back there?” Raphael Roundtree called, leaning out of the pickup window to give me an inquiring glance.
I glared back at him. Raphael was wearing a coat, scarf, and gloves, and the heat in the cab of the truck was turned on full blast. His round brown face looked plain old smug.

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