Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Female Detectives

Charlaine Harris

In their work on the southern detective, J.K. Van Dover and John F. Jebb elegantly described the connection between place and family for Southern mystery authors:

Southerners know the history of their family as well as of their place and of the relationships between the two histories. Such knowledge is both a comfort and a burden.

This sentiment applies well to the characters from the Tunica, Mississippi-raised mystery author Charlaine Harris, for Harris has created several series dominated by Southern women who feel deep ambivalence towards their family, history, and community. In her delightfully light Aurora Teagarden series, the main character is a feisty librarian “Roe,” who finds herself in the most untenable situations such as bodies falling from the sky into her yard and the like.

The intriguing yet darker character of Lily Bard appears in the “Shakespeare” series. Lily, the victim of a brutal rape and torture, has abandoned her connections with her life in Memphis, Tennessee and moved to the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. Determined to cut herself off mentally from the world, Lily focuses on martial arts and bodybuilding while cleaning the homes of specifically chosen clients. Although wanting to live on the fringes of society, Lily is continually drawn into the life of Shakespeare through foul play. As the series progresses her attachment to the quirky characters and eccentric lifestyle of the town only increases.

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