Saturday, January 7, 2012

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris


Sookie is working at Merlotte's Bar, in a small Louisiana town, when Deputy Sheriff Andy Bellefleur staggers in, drunk as a skunk. He's in no condition to drive home, but when he comes back to pick up his car the next morning, someone has left a corpse in it. With no viable clues pointing to the perpetrator -- only the rumor that the victim had been to a "sex party" that night -- Andy is the prime suspect.

He's not the only one with problems. Working full time in a bar is not an easy life, but for 26-year-old Sookie Stackhouse, it's doubly difficult. She's a telepath, and she's spent most of her life learning to shield her mind from other people's thoughts. At moments, she lets her guard down, and she has to "hear" all the lustful and spiteful thoughts bar patrons are afraid to say aloud. That's one of the things that attracted her to her boyfriend, Bill, who is at times sexy and sweet and at other times dark and creepy. She can't read Bill's thoughts because he's not human -- he's a 150-year-old vampire.

Vampires have always existed, but they've only been out of the closet -- or out of the coffin -- for a short time. Since the Japanese invented a form of synthetic blood that can conveniently be heated in a microwave, vampires have come out of hiding. But they are still a very different race, with their own hierarchical system of rule, their own laws, and their own ways of doing things.

Sookie has agreed to use her telepathic abilities to help the vampires of Dallas, who are struggling with an unsolved mystery of their own. This leads her on a strange adventure that includes being surrounded by vengeful vampires, visiting a violent, fanatical church, and an encounter with a shapeshifter.  

Living Dead in Dallas, the second in Charlaine Harris's popular Southern Vampire series, is an unusual mix of genres. It has elements of a hot bodice-ripper romance, a genre I actively dislike. It didn't really work for me as a mystery. There weren't enough clues and intriguing possibilities strewn throughout the book -- the solutions to the mysteries just kind of presented themselves. And the vampire lore, in itself, is not all that compelling.

So why did I enjoy this novel? While none of these elements, by itself, worked for me, the combination of all of it, woven together by Charlaine Harris's gift for storytelling and edgy but good-hearted sense of humor, makes a great read. Her unique take on vampires, and their ambivalent, often salacious, relationships with humans, is hilarious. The story, with all its twists and turns, is thoroughly unique. While I never fell in love with the Bill/Sookie pairing, it does have elements of a real relationship. And this author's world, populated with vampires, shapeshifters, a maenad, and -- apparently -- werewolves, seamlessly joined to the world we know, seems believable and is a lot of fun.

 I definitely recommend this novel, for imaginative, funny light reading, to folks who enjoy supernatural creatures.  

Read More Reviews: Avid Book Reader; Rhapsody in Books; Fyrefly's Book Blog

Rating: 3

5- Cherished Favorite4 - Keep in My Library3 - Good Read2 - Meh1 - Definitely Not
For Me

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