Charlaine Harris is back with her second novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series entitled Living Dead in Dallas. The book begins soon after the first Sookie book Dead Until Dark, with Sookie waitressing at Merlotte’s just as she always has with Bill by her side as her vampire boyfriend. There is one difference however: Merlotte’s has a new addition to its parking lot in the form of the dead corpse of Lafayette, one of the cooks from Merlotte’s.
The plot moves quickly right from the start, as Sookie tries to solve the murder of Lafayette and keep control of her life as she becomes more and more involved with the vampires. She has had some recent changes to her life since the previous book, including increased vampire interest in her “disability” or “talent” as she often refers to her mind-reading abilities. Now that they are aware of the implications of having a human with such skills, they call on her to use her abilities to their benefit instead of resulting to typical violent vampire methods of interrogation. Sookie is summoned to Dallas to use these abilities, but before she can get there, she is attacked by a maenad known as Callisto. She is badly poisoned, and barely survives.
After recovering from her injuries, Sookie finally makes it to Dallas to try to find the missing “brother” of Dallas vampire Stan Davis. Through her investigation, Sookie is led to The Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire church. Under the guise of being a new member, Sookie enters the church, although she is soon found out by the church’s leader, Steve Newlin. She is immediately imprisoned in the church’s basement, and both Bill and Eric are out of her reach. Will she survive the Fellowship’s fanatic quest to kill vampires and those who conspire with them? Will the maenad come back to finish the job?
I throughly enjoyed Harris’ work. Harris is quite adept at building suspense in the novel. As soon as the novel opens we’re engrossed in Sookie’s daily life, and follow her as her day becomes more and more hectic. Even though in the back of my mind I knew that she would survive the maenad attack, I was still extremely nervous when I read that chapter. Harris has a way of taking the action to the very edge, and bringing the reader back at the last second. As a counterpoint to that trait, Harris’ humor definitely shines through via Sookie’s thoughts and remarks about the craziness of her life. It was refreshing and funny to hear her takes on what was happening, and on more than one occasion it made me laugh out loud. All in all, I definitely give Harris a lot of credit for creating a world for Sookie that contains so many layered characters and different paths. If you haven’t given this series a try I suggest you do so. Off to book three!
4 out of 5 starsLiving Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris Penguin Group Incorporated (2002) Paperback 304 pages ISBN: 9780441009237