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Mystery of the Counselling group
Well told story handled sympathetically and with compassion
Quick ending to the story
Would you read it again?
How does it compare to other works by the same author?
How does it compare to similar books?Very good
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About the book:
Lily Bard is an usual lady. She lives in the small town of Shakespeare in Arkansas. She lives with her partner Jack Lees, who after years in the Police force has started out on his own as a Private Investigator. Lily has had an difficult past and after attacking Jack she agrees that she needs to see and attend a Counselling Group to help her come to terms with what had happened to her. As a few years before she was raped by a group of bikers and after this ordeal they left her a gun with one bullet in it. They thought after what they had done to her she would want to kill herself. However Lilly was stronger than that and she sought out and killed the man that had inflicted this group on her with that one bullet.
She realises she must try and come to turns with these traumatic events as she loves Jack and wants a future with him. She quickly finds a Counselling Group and is surprised when she turns up early to meet its leader Tamsin Lynd to discuss the clubs rules. As Tasmin is getting a nuisance call that really seems to upset her. However she quickly recovers her composure and Lily agrees to join this support group. What Lily has heard from the call Tamsin receives interests her and she realises she know nothing about this relatively newcomer to this small town where everybody seems to know everyone else’s business.
At the first Group meeting Lily finds tough and talking about what has happened to her to relative strangers she finds practically impossible, but decides she must keep trying. However the last thing she expects to find at the second meeting is one member unconscious and a new member murdered while the Counsellor has locked herself in the therapy room. Lily and Jack decide they must try and find out what has happened here and why.
My thoughts on the novel:
I thought this was a cracking thriller. It was quite different from what I had read previously read from this author and I was really impressed by the way she dealt with human emotions and feelings. This is because in the past I have criticised Harris for her lack of compassion when dealing with sensitive issues. In this book I thought she really addressed that and I respected how she dealt with the subject of rape and the feelings of the victims following such a traumatic event. I did not think this writer was capable of such emotion and I was very impressed with how she handled it.
From my perspective I have a very up and down relationship with Charlaine Harris. On the positive side I love her vampire novels featuring Sookie Stackhouse, these are her most recent series of stories and I think the author has created a wonderful character within an amazing environment in these stories. However I have also read several books from her earlier series that feature Aurora Teagarden and Harper Connelly which I felt where weak and lacked realism in the stories. So when I came to look at the first novel I have read in the Lily Bard series my expectations where to be honest quite low.
And while this is the first novel in the series I have read unsurprisingly for me it is the fifth and latest novel in the series. It would of course be sensible to read the first first, but I always rather start somewhere else and see if I can enjoy the story without feeling I have missed important events which will not leave me missing part of the story. However although it was clear Lily Bard had a horrible past through the Counselling sessions it was brought up and I did not feel like this was the last in the series indeed it could even have been the first.
I had not heard of this series of stories until very recently, so when I got this book as a Birthday present I was very interested to find out exactly what it was like and how it compared with her other series of books. It was written in 2001, which was the year this author also published her first novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series of stories. I liked the cover of the book with a house, several books and a knife, it was attractive and I wondered what the was all about. I must admit I was immediately wrong as I thought it would due to the title be related in some way to the famous writer William Shakespeare!! I checked out the summary, which was quite short and I wondered if I would like it as while I love a good thriller I wondered if I would take to this new character in this new setting.
However I was in for a very pleasant surprise as practically from the first page I found I was gripped by the story and I wanted to know more about this unique and very brave lady Lily Bard. And while the beginning of the story dealt in quite a lot of detail about rape I thought the author handled it really well and I certainly developed empathy with the main character. It was the depth of felling and understanding of such a traumatic effect this has and its long terms effects that really impressed me. It made me have compassion for Lily and how strong she was to rebuild her life.
I think had the story just dealt with the subject of rape I would have found it very hard going. As like the vast majority of the population I find this topic hard to read about. But it did not and once Lily had shared her experiences with her new group, the story moved on the deal with the stalking of one this group and how Lily got involved in trying to find the answers to this mystery. The story had a good feel and pace about it and I found I did not have much idea what would happen next in it but there was real mystery in what was happening within it.
For me the story was very good and I enjoyed some of the unexpected twists within it. Although I would have liked a few more suspects as there where not many who could have been involved in this crime. Although again to give the author her due she kept me guessing as to the solution to practically the end of the story. I felt it was written in an intelligent way that always had me as the reader intrigued into what the solution could passable be. With enough other action involving the central characters to always keep me interested and asking questions about what would happen next.
The conclusion to the story was exciting too. As I still did not know what the answers to the mystery was all I knew was the Lily was in trouble and out of her depth. In some ways I thought the author rushed the ending a little and I would have liked more analysis so I could have done with a little more time to understand it and get it all clear in my own head. Although it all made sense and I think the author has left herself opportunities should she wish to pursue other options for future stories featuring Lily and some of the other characters within the story.
Along with with turned out to be a fascinating story my other great enjoyment was getting to know and understand the series main character Lily Bard. I thought she was a fabulous character because despite everything she had been through she was still very normal. I found a lot of her qualities to be the ones I respect and appreciated what a courageous lady she was. And importantly I liked the way she went about not only her work but the way she dealt with everyone involved in the story. I would love to learn more about her but I fear I will have to now read the previous stories in the series to do this. She worked well with her partner Jack and I really always wanted a happy ending for both of them.
For me this novel had everything but the authors usual sharp wit. Which as it dealt with a number of difficult topics I think would have been inappropriate . The length of the story was about right with regular chapter breaks to successfully change the scene and let the reader catch their breath. And while this was written about a small town in Arkansas I never struggled with either the different culture or the different way of life they have there from here. It was just a compelling read that I really enjoyed from the first page to the last.
I thought this was a very good well thought of mystery. It was also well written and I thought the writer handled Lily's rape with sensitivity and compassion. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller as has many twists within it and the answers to it are very clever. With an amazing lead character in Lily Bard who is very easy to respect, like and appreciate as she is so down to earth and easy to relate to.
Paperback version: Pages:240 Price: 1.99 Publisher: Gollancz ISBN-10: 0575105348 ISBN-13: 978-0575195348 Year first published: 2001 More about the author: www.charlaineharris.com
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