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Club Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery

Charlaine Harris

Paperback 288 pages (April 30, 2004)

Publisher: Orbit

ISBN: 1-84149-301-5

More 7F (Ferocious Faux-Feminist Female Fantôme Fighting Fictions) adventures as telepathic would-be-trailer (if her granny hadn’t left her the house) would-be-trash (if she wasn’t so goddamned intelligent) would-be-waitress (if she didn’t keep running around the southern states solving supernatural shenanigans) Sookie Stackhouse hits the road for more hard hitting hard loving jinks. This time brooding, brawny Bill has left in mysterious circumstances and got himself kidnapped in Mississippi. This is especially worrying as he’s been visiting an old vampire flame – something vampires never, ever, do and horny-but-faithful(ish, sort of, in a kinda broad definition of the term way) Sookie is mightily miffed. Still, shapely shape-shifter Alcide is here to help her investigations, as is dreamy Eric and a bevy of other buff blokes that she really should keep her hands off.

Sookie’s waitressing is taking even more of a back seat these days but frankly income is the least of her worries. At least her adventures have resisted the urge to shoot off into the stratospheric page-counts that typify modern series, but this time round the emphasis on looking great and being masochistic reaches new heights. Sookie’s incredible moralistic see-sawing comes back with a vengeance as does the ever endearing character Bubba (yes, Elvis is a vampire, but the drugs in his system meant the change process didn’t go too well so he’s a few pounds of bacon short of a fool’s gold sandwich), one of a series of supernatural bodyguards there to help her on her quest. This time she’s off to Club Dead, a spellbound and dangerous establishment with a fire dealing goblin as a goon. Life away from Bill has driven Sookie into a nigh on nymphomaniacal state, not aided by an assortment of revealing dresses, a greatly improved sexy look and a pedicure from Alcide’s beautician sister. Somewhere in the midst of this she has time to dance provocatively (although it seemed innocent the first time), drink champagne cocktails and improve her vocabulary with a word of the day calendar. And then there’s the masochism. This has now escalated to near biblical levels as she takes a near fatal stake but is saved by the vamps.

Maybe if Sookie became televised (as an HBO job – no chance anywhere else due to the content) her adventures would warm to the medium, but on paper things range from sordid to coy, sub-dime to ridiculous. There are plenty of details that flesh out Sookie’s world but these are offset by some fortune-cookie reject philosophy and some achingly unfettered libidinal observations (word of the day is, in fact, ‘libido’…). Never short of readable but far from recommended and strays further into “enjoyable… but for the wrong reasons” than even its predecessors. Lovers of top-cheese will find six pounds well spent on the cover alone, but if it’s anything other than a quick read you’re after you’d best leave it be.