I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Even in a sleepy Arkansas town, the holidays can be murder.
Lily Bard is going home for the holidays. More comfortable in baggy sweats than bridesmaid's frills, Lily isn't thrilled about attending her estranged sister's wedding. She has moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to start a new life, cleaning houses for a living, trying to forget the violence that once nearly destroyed her. Now she's heading back to home and hearth--just in time for murder.
The town's doctor and nurse have been bludgeoned to death at the office. And Lily's detective boyfriend suddenly shows up at her parents' door. Jack Leeds is investigating an eight-year-old kidnapping and the trail leads straight to Lily's hometown. It just might have something to do with the murders...and her sister's widowed fiancé. With only three days before the wedding, Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister commits...marriage!
In this installment, we change small towns and therefore a lot of the people that Lily Bard is interacting with and it’s a good change. She returns to her home-town and her family’s home for her sister’s wedding right before Christmas. After her traumatic rape & mutilation, Lily fled the town, her family and her friends, to start a new life in Shakespeare, Arkansas. Although she doesn’t regret the change of scene, in this book she learns that she maybe left too soon, not giving anyone (including herself) time to get used to her new normal.
Like many people, Lily is reluctant to return home to face the family. She is not comfortable in her own skin yet, although she’s getting there, and doesn’t have the social skills to deal with those close to her effectively. A very typical introvert, she finds that it doesn’t have to be quite as difficult as she envisioned it—her family will meet her half-way if she makes an effort.
One thing that did improve this book was that Lily was out of her regular routine—so although she takes on some cleaning tasks (as part of her “investigation” of what’s going on in her home-town), the reader isn’t subjected to as many detailed scenes of her cleaning routine. Also, she is away from her gym, so ditto with the karate/strength training that permeates the first two books.
I think this could be a good series for people who care too much about the opinions of others, particularly those not close to them. Lily seems to be far too worried about what the community thinks of her and not worried enough about what she thinks of herself. Lily, if they aren’t paying your bills, their opinions don’t matter!