Living Dead in Dallas
Sookie Stackhouse is back. Those of you who have been waiting anxiously for the sequel to Dead Until Dark will be pleased to know that Living Dead in Dallas is another cleverly unique story with the same high quality writing as Harris’s first Southern Vampire novel.
Sookie, for all that she enjoys her association with Bill the vampire, has got problems – both old and new. First off, she’s still adjusting to some of Bill’s little quirks. Dating a vampire is not without difficulty. Also, she’s got Eric, the local vampire leader, to contend with. Eric, who has made no secret of his personal interest in her, wants Sookie for her telepathic powers. It seems that the vampires of Area 6 (Dallas) have got themselves a little situation. One of their number has gone missing, and the Dallas leader thinks The Fellowship of the Sun Center, a quasi-religious, KKK-like group of vampire haters, might have something to do with it. So Eric wants to loan Sookie out as a consultant. Sookie does not particularly relish the idea.
To complicate matters, one of Sookie’s coworkers is found murdered, and it looks like there might be supernatural trouble brewing in Bon Temps, Louisiana. So Sookie’s got a pretty full plate of predicament.
The story is entrancing in a frenetic way. It rolls along like a roller-coaster car with greased wheels. Surprising things happen, and Sookie gets herself into a number of scrapes. Most of the action is unpredictable, and the end result is an exhilarating ride for the reader Sookie’s world is weird and dark, but humorously portrayed with a loving touch. Harris has a deft way of creating unique and memorable characters with just a bit of description.
Sookie herself is such a fun character, and the best part about her is that she’s so darned likable. She’s strong but self-deprecating – and has a great appreciation for the absurd. Her observations are interesting and she is filled with good old common sense. How Harris juxtaposes this very pragmatic, down-to-earth person with all of these crazy things that happen in the book makes for any number of comic situations.
The other characters are interesting as well. Eric the vampire leader is better developed in this book. He’s actually sort of juicy. And Bill remains sexy and enigmatic. A number of new supernatural creatures introduce themselves and cause Sookie to reevaluate her perception of “reality” (as opposed to “myth”).
I would consider Dead Until Dark a Desert Isle Keeper. This one is almost as good, but a few things made it fall short of that mark. First, Bill plays a less active role in this book than he did in his debut. Dead until Dark was almost a romance, and Sookie’s giddiness over falling for Bill considerably lightened the tone of that book. When Living Dead in Dallas begins, Sookie and Bill already have an established relationship, and while there are romantic moments, romance is not the book’s focus. Also, Eric the local vampire leader makes a number of Ranger (of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series)-like appearances and shakes things up. It’s clear he’d like a little playtime with Sookie as well, and this made me a tad uneasy. I’ve never been a Ranger girl.
Then too, the book seems to get darker and eerier as it moved toward its conclusion. Dead Until Dark was dark, but episodically so since the flashes of humor and romance in that book broke up the gloom rather effectively. But in Living Dead in Dallas Sookie becomes more and more exposed to the brutal, seamier side of humanity as the story progresses, and the humor peters out a little. And while the book does not end on a black note, it is very obvious that Sookie’s universe is filled with dark forces and any number of ugly people.
But just because a book is dark does not make it bad. Living Dead in Dallas was thoroughly entertaining. I do hope that it is only the second installment in a long-running sequence because Harris’s writing style is a treat, and Sookie is an appealing heroine. It would be a shame for any lover of the supernatural to miss this series.