Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dead As A Doornail, by Charlaine Harris

(pb; 2005: fifth entry in The Sookie Stackhouse Novels)

From the back cover:

"Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has more than her share of experience with the supernatural -- but now it's really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason's eyes start to change, she knows he's about to turn into a werepanther for the first time -- a transformation he embraces more readily than most shape-shifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jasons's new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who's behind the attacks -- unless the killer decides to find her first. . ."


Warning: possibile spoilers in this review.

Sookie's life is, as usual, all atumble with craziness: someone's sniping local Weres (one fatally, others wounded); a stranger from out of town, with possible ties to the Fellowship of the Sun (a virulent, "Christian-based" anti-vampire group), torches Sookie's house; Tara Thornton, Sookie's best friend since childhood, is being victimized by a predatory vampire (Mickey); and the Weres in nearby Hotshot are about to nominate a new packleader, in a political contest that's gotten too hot.

Sookie, via her mostly-friendly ties to the Weres, Fairies, Shifters (a less-regarded variation of Weres), vampires and other supernatural creatures, is drawn into all of these happenings.

The identity of the sniper isn't surprising -- author Harris tips her hand a little early there, but the sniper's identity isn't the most important part of the story.

What really makes this series work is how seamlessly everything interconnects. Harris builds on events and characters from past books, letting everything flow in a natural, quirky, much-like-real-life manner. This is easily one of my favorite Sookie Stackhouse novels, in that reading this felt like I was revisiting old friends (who, like the "bad" characters, are a realistic mix of good and bad).

This can be read as a stand-alone novel, but in order to really appreciate Harris's deftly-penned artistry, readers should read the first four books, in order.

Excellent, excellent, excellent, this!

Followed by Definitely Dead.

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