Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)
3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges – and soon Sookie’s in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She’s supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that’s easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly . . .

It’s been such a long time since I read the first few books in this series that it really is like coming to them fresh, and it makes not one jot of difference that I’ve been watching the HBO show based on them (True Blood) as the second series deviated rather wildly from the events of the second book, retaining only the basic elements of the plot – removing some parts and developing some areas that were barely mentioned in the source material as well as adding in some other things that didn’t happen in the book at all.

Charlaine Harris has a very easy-to-read style of writing – it almost sounds like an old friend speaking to you in your head and as the plot unfolds, the action rolls over you in waves and before you know it, you’ve read half the book when you only planned to read for 20 minutes or so.

As a lead character, Sookie is instantly likeable and she’s flawed enough that she comes across as being entirely plausible, even with her mind-reading skills. It’s during this book that I begin to find Bill just a touch less likeable. Not that I actively disliked him – it was more a gentle growing of “I’m not so sure about this guy” with nothing really specific on which to put my finger. Eric, on the other hand, becomes more intriguing… Neither of them actually plays a huge role in the plot though, as it focuses more on the humans and the hatred that causes some “religious fanatics” to act in extreme ways. The progress of the story lies squarely on Sookie’s shoulders and she’s a strong enough character to carry it along to its conclusion.

There was one tiny element I felt Harris could have explored further – the Maenad. Her part in the book was almost entirely inconsequential and, in fact, it could have been almost entirely omitted from this second installment. Still, it didn’t detract from what is an enjoyable read that definitely makes me want to continue with the rest of the series.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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