Monday, August 17, 2009

Definitely Dead, by Charlaine Harris

(pb; 2006: sixth entry in The Sookie Stackhouse Novels)

From the inside flap:

"As a person with so few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley -- a consort of the vampire queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley's estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk.

"Someone doesn't want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley's past -- or, for that matter, Hadley's possessions. And they're prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the rogue weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the pack to the vampire queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject -- Sookie's first love, Bill.

"Whoever it is, they're definitely dangerous -- and Sookie's life is definitely on the line."


A few weeks have passed since the happenings of Dead As A Doornail.

Sookie heads to New Orleans, to attend an important vampire conference -- at the request of Sophie-Anne Leclerq, vampire queen of Louisiana. Once there, she's not only dealing with murky political intentions and fatal betrayals, but with the settling of her cousin Hadley's estate; Hadley, consort to Leclerq, died under weird circumstances. . . not a surprising thing, considering that death-magnet Sookie is her cousin.

Not only that, but the intrusive, suspicious Pelt family -- Barbara, Gordon, and their were-daughter Sandra -- are still sniffing around Sookie, determined to find out what really happened to Sandra's c*nt of were-sister, Deborah, who disappeared two months back (for more details on that, read Dead to the World).

Fortunately for Sookie, she's surrounded by as many friends as she is enemies. Quinn, a classy influential were-tiger (first seen in Dead As A Doornail) is wooing Sookie; Amelia Broadway, a White Witch ("not a Wiccan") and landlord to the deceased Hadley, is becoming chummy with Sookie; Mr. Cataliades, a half-demon lawyer, boss of the recently-murdered demon messenger Gladiola, is watching over Sookie as well.

Then there's the series "regulars" -- Bill Compton (not an interesting character, but Sookie's first, now ex-boyfriend); Eric Northman, playboy vampire sheriff of Area 5, whose interest in Sookie's has turned wary and ambiguous; Pam, Eric's vamp assistant, who's curious about the reason for Sookie's unintentional, amatoric effect on supernatural males; Alcide Herveaux, a kind-hearted were-panther, first introduced in Club Dead; Sam Merlotte, Sookie's good-natured, were-dog boss; and Bubba, the iconic-singer-turned-cat-killing vampire.

As quirky, amusing and fast-moving as the rest of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, this. Of course, there's a couple of bodice-ripper scenes (a natural occurence, given the tasteful, mostly-contained lustiness of many of the characters), and an ending that lends itself to another sequel.

I only have one nit for this book, or rather, the series -- Harris needs to lose a few characters, soon. Readers get too comfortable when there are too many "regulars"; given the inevitable acts violence between many of these supernatural characters, it seems reasonable to expect a few series-altering, reader-shocking deaths. (I'd suggest Bill, whom I've never liked, or even Eric, whose interest in Sookie is becoming repetitive -- besides, wouldn't Pam, shark-like on the best of days, make a livelier, more intriguing vampire sheriff?)

If you like the other Sookie novels, you'll probably like this.

Followed by All Together Dead.

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