Shakespeare’s Christmas

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Shakespeare’s Christmas, the third of her Lily Bart mysteries, Charlaine Harris weaves a complex tale involving links between a four-year-old unsolved kidnapping and the brutal murders of a beloved town doctor and his nurse. Lily Bart, the victim of a violent sexual assault, has become a karate expert and a professional cleaning woman, an unlikely profession for an amateur detective. When she returns to Bartley and her family to attend her sister Varena’s wedding, she experiences some difficulty relating to her family, who seem unable to deal with her rape. Shortly after her arrival she and Varena visit Dr. LeMay’s office, where they find his body and that of his nurse, Binnie Armstrong.

At the wedding rehearsal that night Lily’s boyfriend Jack, a private detective, appears. He is in town to investigate a kidnapping that occurred four years ago—he had received a photo cut out of a high school yearbook and has narrowed the identity of the kidnapper down to three people, whose daughters are in the photo and who are the same age as the kidnapped girl.

The three suspects are Dill, Varena’s fiance; Jess O’Shea, a minister, and Emory Osborn, a furniture dealer whose wife is murdered the next day. Lily correctly surmises that Meredith Osborn was killed because she mailed the photo and knew who the kidnapper was and that the doctor and nurse were killed because they had the children’s blood types, which could have been used to identify the kidnapped child. After observing some disturbing sexual behavior by Emory, she identifies him as the killer and uses her karate skills to capture him.