Review: Living Dead In Dallas – Charlaine Harris

living dead in dallas

The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #2

Sookie Stackhouse, Bon Temps, Louisiana barmaid, is called from her regular job at Merlotte’s to do some work for the newly recognised vampires. A deal she had made with vampire bar owner and head of Area 5, Eric Northman, allows him to use her telepathic abilities to garner information from humans in exchange for turning them over to the proper authorities, and letting the humans deal with their indiscretions. On just such a meet on night, while fighting will Bill Compton, her undead boyfriend, Sookie is attached by a mythical maenad to send a message to Eric. Arriving in tatters, Sookie is doctored by Pam and Chow (other vampires that own Fangtasia), Eric, and Bill, and delivers the message. Eric needs to pay tribute, or Callisto, the maenad, will bring her madness.

Sookie is furious to have been the message as she was gravely wounded, and soon hears that the job Eric has for her is to go to Dallas with Bill to meet with Stan Davis, head of Area 6, to assist him with her abilities. Meanwhile, there is trouble in Bon Temps when Lafayette Reynolds, a gay cook of Merlotte’s, turns up dead in detective Andy Bellefleur’s car one morning. Sookie makes the trip to Dallas regardless, meets with Stan, and learns that he is looking for his “brother” Farrell, who went missing and has not been sighted in five days. She does what she can, and traces return that she will have to visit The Fellowship of the Sun, a cultist group of people who are dead set against vampires living among people, viewing them as abominations and as the damned. Sookie proves to be an asset to Stan and his people. She is tasked to visit The Fellowship of the Sun the following day with Isabel’s human, Hugo, and do some investigating. Sookie and Bill are extremely unhappy that Eric has turned up in Dallas under the pretext of being Leif, from California, to oversee their business, though it seems it is his prerogative.

Sookie meets with Hugo the next day, and the two set out to meet The Fellowship of the Sun. Upon arrival, the meet Sarah Newlin, wife of Steve, the man who established and runs the “church”. Sookie is getting bad vibes from Hugo as well as the other Fellowship members, and soon realises that Hugo is not on the side of the vampires, but the side of the Fellowship, and when she attempts to leave she is taken prisoner. Sookie is desperate to escape, and tries frantically to communicate with Barry, a bellhop at the Silent Shore Hotel they are staying at that happens to be a telepath. She needs to warn Bill and the rest about the Fellowship’s plans, and about how Godfrey, an extremely old vampire, is prepared to meet the dawn to atone for his sins of the past few centuries. It seems that the vampires are not the only ones interested in the Fellowship, as Sookie meets another shape-shifter there, one who will be extremely valuable to her. It seems that Sookie will not make it out. Back in Bon Temps, Portia Bellefleur, Andy’s sister, is doing her best to help him figure out who is responsible for Lafayette’s murder so she can clear his name.

Will Barry receive and relay Sookie’s message of danger? Will the Fellowship burn more vampires? Will Farrell die with Godfrey, who wishes to do so by choice? Will the maenad unleash her madness on the small town of Bon Temps? Who killed Lafayette, and was Andy somehow involved? Will he be able to solve the crime?

GRADE 7This was certainly not as tightly written as its predecessor, but it was a light and fast read nonetheless. The one thing I did not like so much is how the maenad was brought in, presented as a big deal, and then forgotten about toward the end. Like what was the point, really? Sookie is also a little more grating than one would like in this one, permanently whining about her relationship with Bill, and fighting with him constantly. Not everything he does is a personal slight. I don’t know, maybe my mind just doesn’t work the same way as most girls, but in any event. Eric provided the bulk of the humour in this one, once more. He is so cheeky, so dark, and really just entertaining. I enjoyed the concept of a cult church banding together against the vampires, and I suppose it wasn’t too bad to hear about more shape-shifters and that. Sookie did spend an awful lot of time kissing other guys though, which frustrates me because by goodness, pick one and get over it. If you aren’t happy with the dead dude, get yourself someone else, stop putting them all in danger because Bill is terribly jealous, or because you want a kiss in sunlight. I really am not a fan of reading about things like that. Or watching them, for that matter. What does that make this, a love square? Sookie in one corner, Sam, Bill, and Eric laid out in the rest? Not cool. Not an awful lot happens in here, or more like it does but in a hurry. The maenad, Callisto, is brought back at the end and feels like a real footnote in it all. Lafayette, too, is a story arc that was introduced, forgotten, then brought out again later to be worked with, but that was alright.