Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

(pb; 2001: first entry in The Sookie Stackhouse Novels)

From the back cover:

"Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability.' She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome -- and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life. . .

"But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of -- big suprise -- murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next. . ."


Less a murder mystery than a fleet-footed story, this damn-near-impossible-to-set-down novel is an instant charmer. Lead character Sookie, a mind-reader with definite leanings and flaws, narrates the series of fantastic events with a natural Southern voice, making her world and those around her read believable.

Mystery-wise, the murderer, or murderers, isn't/aren't easy to spot. Credit author Harris for avoiding the all-too-common mistake of making the villains of the tale evil -- like real-life baddies, they're simply too intense or misguided in their goals and beliefs; ditto their methods for bringing them to fruition.

Excellent, memorable novel. When I was done reading it, I couldn't wait to read the next Sookie Stackhouse offering, Living Dead in Dallas.

Dead Until Dark, and it sequels, inspired a cable show, True Blood.

True Blood began airing on HBO on September 7, 2008. Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse. Stephen Moyer plays Bill Compton. Sam Trammell plays Sam Merlotte. Ryan Kwanten plays Jason Stackhouse. William ("Will") Sanderson plays Sheriff Bud Dearborne. Alexander Skarsgård (real-life son of Stellan Skarsgård) plays Eric Northman. Michael Raymond James plays Rene Lenier. Chris Bauer plays Detective Andy Bellefleur.

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