Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas
Author: Charlaine Harris
Ace, 2002
291 pages

It's official. This paranormal action series is highly addictive. It might as well be crack, or in my case Mountain Dew. This second book in the Southern Vampire series (see here for my review of Book #1, Dead Until Dark) starts out with a murder of . . . oh, no!!! . . . one of the characters I really thought we'd be seeing more of in future books. Suspicion falls on one of Bon Temps' finest - Andy Bellefleur. Andy's sister Portia asks Sookie to use her "gift" to find the real murderer. But just as the case starts to take off, Sookie has an unexpected run-in with a maenad in the woods . . .  and an unwanted summons from Vampire Leadership to help locate a missing vampire in Dallas.

Sookie and her vamp boyfriend Bill head to the Big D, where Sookie uses her telepathic abilities to make some sense of the disappearance. Turns out there's this anti-vampire group called the Fellowship of the Sun who wants nothing more than a return to the old days when vampires were hidden in the closet. Under the guise of religion, they use fear to incite acts of hatred and violence against the Undead. The more Sookie learns about this group, the scarier things get. (They even have dungeons under their "church" -- and of course, Sookie will spend some time there.)

Likeable Sookie is becoming more confident with each strange creature she meets, whether said creature is human (as in the case of the slimy lawyer and the even slimier husband/wife leaders of the Fellowship of the Sun) or supernatural (Godfrey, the Roman-era vampire; Luna, the shapeshifter; vampire leaders who at least in my mind look a lot like Viggo Mortensen and Bill Gates). Sometimes it seems like there are too many characters in the Southern Vampire series, but I haven't had any trouble keeping up yet.

The pace is non-stop, even after things get sorted out in Dallas. Actually, Sookie returns home single after a spat with Bill, who did something unforgivable. Meanwhile, back in Bon Temps, there's still that murder to solve, and here comes Sookie to the rescue. As she uses her gifts to right wrongs, she peels back another layer of Bon Temps and sees that once again, things (and people) are not always as they seem. In fact, Bon Temps has a swingers' club! Who would've thunk it?

But will she make up with Bill before the last page? That's the real question.

Crack, I tell you.