Bon Temps barmaid and telepath Sookie Stackhouse attends the vampire summit with Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Queen of Louisiana. The summit has been shifted due to the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina, and Eric Northman, vampire sheriff of Area 5, is unhappy that Sookie is going as a part of the queen’s party. Pam, Eric’s “child”, shares with Sookie that she has messed with his head in some way, and that he does not think properly anymore. At the summit, vampire trials will be held, and Sophie-Anne stands accused of killing her husband, Peter Threadgill, king of Arkansas. Sookie is now not only part of the entourage, but also as a witness, and will have to testify at the trial. Sookie has multiple jobs to do, and at the same time she is desperately attempting to purge her life of Bill Compton, her vampire ex that broke her heart. Sophie-Anne, however, is looking to use Sookie’s telepathic abilities to make sure that the people that are investing in her campaign after her displacement from New Orleans are genuine, and does not really want her distracted.
Arriving at the convention, Sookie meets with Barry “Bellboy” Horowitz, the only other telepath she has ever met in her life, who used to be bellhop at the Silent Shore Hotel in Dallas. It appears that Barry is now a part of Stan’s entourage. Stan is the king of Texas. Sookie is relieved that she has a sort of friend with her. Sookie’s weretiger boyfriend, Quinn, runs the events company that is hosting the convention, and Sookie sees him on and off while he is there. It seems that Quinn is as popular as ever in the vampire community, and she would love to know why. Sadly for her, she soon learns his deep and dark secret, and it changes things a little for them. Sophie-Anne wishes to broker a deal with Jennifer Cater, who has made the allegations against the queen. When going to meet with her, Sophie-Anne’s party discovers that the Arkansas party has been butchered. Upon leaving the scene, Sookie suggests that Sophie-Anne appoint her progeny Andre to step up as a the new king of Arkansas, a suggestion they all take seriously.
Things are not going well when more corpses turn up, and Sookie discovers a bomb near the queen’s room. Just when it looks like Sophie-Anne’s trial is off, an Arkansas survivor steps forward and keeps the trial going, which Sookie promptly has thrown out, and a would-be assassin is staked at the trial. She is very unhappy, too, when Andre approaches her to make her drink his blood, to bind them, and she is terrified and refuses. When things start looking really bad for her there, Eric steps in to save the day, much to Sookie’s chagrin, and she is forced to drink his blood instead. Quinn discovers this, and is furious with her and the vampires. No matter that, Sookie is now irrevocably tied to Eric, and will never be free of him. The king of Kentucky seems overly paranoid of something and has two Britlingers protecting him. The Fellowship of the Sun members are vehemently protesting outside the hotel that vampires are evil. Sookie and Barry band together to look into the deceased assassin to find some answers during the day, as answers need to be provided about whose life is in danger, who knows what, and what is coming.
Does someone want Sophie-Anne dead in particular? Does someone just want to kill all vampires? What is the conspiracy? Who murdered the Arkansas party? Who planted the bomb near the queen’s room? Will Sookie ever accept how closely linked she and Eric are? When will Sookie successfully move on from the hurt that Bill caused her? Will Sookie and Quinn work through their issues? Can they make their relationship work? What is it about Quinn’s past that Sookie does not know, but that has the powers to change everything? Will Eric ever work out his feelings for Sookie?
I had a great time with this one again. Things were definitely picking up. Still little Bill, which is fine by me, he is a bit bland and boring. Quinn made his appearance in here, but it was not overbearing, and the whole thing between Eric and Sookie was discussed a little bit more, something I did appreciate. No matter what happens there, they are tied together, and though Sookie “loathes” him, she also adores him, and he is awfully frustrated the he cannot remember the time he spent with her and what he owes her. The pace was nice, and there were so many plots going on at the same time here but it worked, it never got too much or overbearing. Andre, a character that I liked, has become rather not cool, sadly. Pam, naturally, is still endlessly entertaining. Also, the return of Barry Bellboy was fun, I like him and Sookie, and how they work together. It was interesting for me to read more about the vampire politics as well as how they do things, truly fascinating. The conversations between Barry and Sookie were cool, too, all in italics. This books kept me reading, kept me interested, all the way through. There was more stuff going on, but nothing overwhelming. Also, Harris worked in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and this is the first piece of literature that I have read that has talked about Katrina so much. The vampires are irrevocably tied to the South, so it was nice that it was included, though Katrina was one terrible natural disaster. Finally some of Quinn’s past is revealed, and I must say that it was not even remotely what I expected at all, it was pretty sad.