Well, it’s that time of the month again (no, not that time). It’s time to visit with Charlaine Harris and her cast of characters as we review Harris’ third installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Club Dead. This time, Sookie begins the novel saying goodbye to her boyfriend vampire Bill, as he states he must leave immediately to work on a secret project for the Queen of Louisiana. He shows her a computer and various disks that he tells her are full of his work, and must be hidden if any harm befalls him. His cold departure leaves Sookie incalculably empty, as she attempts to grope with his lack of emotion and confusion about his “project”. Even worse, she is followed and nearly escapes an attack by a were (shapeshifter that shifts to a werewolf) at Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Fortunately, she is protected by Bubba, a vampire who was Elvis himself. Though she narrowly escapes the attack, Sookie is concerned that she is being followed and believes herself to be a target due to Bill and his work. It is then that Eric informs her that not only has Bill left without telling anyone, but he left due to the summoning of his maker, Lorena, and now he has disappeared. Sookie, although betrayed and hurt, agrees to travel to a vampire bar known as Club Dead in Jackson, Mississippi to help locate Bill by gathering intelligence from humans there. Eric can not accompany her as the bar is in the territory of the King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, who would instigate a war if he was involved.
Sookie travels to Jackson under the protection of Alcide, a were hired by Eric to escort and help Sookie blend in with the local supernatural population. Sparks fly as the two spend time together, and Sookie has to mightily hold off her feelings for Alcide as she tries to locate Bill. As they enter Club Dead for the first time, Sookie is threatened by a were, who is soon sent packing by Edgington himself. Through her telepathy Sookie learns from Edgington’s escort that Bill is being held and tortured at Edgington’s estate! Trying to remain calm, they accept an invitation by Edgington to return to Club Dead the following night to learn more information. The next evening the club is assaulted by the Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire church intent on killing vampires. Will Sookie and Alcide survive the attack? Will she be able to save Bill?
I must say I really am torn with this novel. On one hand Harris builds the suspense extremely well, with an ending that doesn’t disappoint. However on the other hand, it takes the book a while to get there. Yes, I understand that there are complicated relationship issues with Sookie and Bill and Alcide that do need to be worked out, but I think these took center stage to the action and adventure that I had come to know so well with Harris’ writing. Once all those issues are more or less worked out, however, the action-packed ending really had me on the edge of my seat. Harris’ description of Sookie’s “gift” has gotten really good, and I feel as though I’m learning more about it along with Sookie herself. Additionally, she is better able to write about the interplay between the supernatural beings in this book as the reader has more background due to the first two books. Harris does not need to explain about vampire rules and laws, as they have been covered previously. The more I read the books in this series the more I like Sookie’s character. Smart, determined, funny, and honest, Sookie is everything that a good main character should be and more. I can’t wait to see what else Harris has in store in the next book: Dead to the World.
3 out of 5 stars