Saturday, November 28, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

That was how Detective Andy Bellefleur's old Buick came to sit in the parking lot at Merlotte's all night and into the next day. The Buick had certainly been empty when Andy had gotten out to enter the bar, he would later swear. He'd also testify that he'd had been so preoccupied by his internal turmoil that he forgot to lock his car.
At some point between eight o'clock, when Andy had arrived at Merlotte's, and ten the next morning, when I arrived to help open the bar, Andy's car acquired a new passenger.
This one would cause considerable embarrassment for the policeman.
This one was dead.

So after reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book and reviewing it on here, I'm pretty sure I decided never to read another one. Well, as explanation for the existance of this post, I can only offer the excuse that these Sookie Stackhouse books have the same compelling pull as that hipster guy thats no good for you. You get some time away, and you start to build the book (or the guy) up in your mind. You start to think maybe it (he) wasn't all bad. You two had some good times together, whether it was laughing at author Charlaine Harris's stilted colloquialisms (book) or trying not to laugh during his dramatic poetry readings (guy). So maybe you give it another try. Maybe you call up the hipster dude, or you pick up Living Dead in Dallas at Costco (on sale!). Both represent a moment of weakness.

I don't know how the hipster dude storyline ends, because I made that up. But I did read Living Dead in Dallas, and I can even more emphatically state that I will never read another Sookie Stackhouse novel again. Or at least until the (deeply awesome television show) TrueBlood comes back on and I decide I'll give the books another try because how bad can they be? Thats another thing that gets me about these books. TrueBlood is awesome - engaging plotlines, likeable characters, witty dialogue, sexy sex. The books the show is based on lack all of that. By the end of LDID I was ready to kill Sookie myself, nevermind a bunch of vampires. Charlaine Harris writes awkward dialogue and even more awkward sex scenes (of which there were more, and more explicit in LDID than in the previous book, so thats a warning).

The book's gratuitous use of sex tended to distract from its otherwise general awfulness, so I can't completely bash it. If Harris could write a titillating erotic scene, she might be able to switch genres, but the stuff in this book falls squarely in the realm of soft-core. Like a Harlequin but trying too hard to stay classy, which in turn is just sad; no "throbbing member" here but close enough.

The book is set just a bit after the last one ends, when Sookie is called to Dallas as part of her agreement with Eric and the vampires of Shreveport. She has been rented out to use her telepathy to find information for a nest of vampires in Dallas. When she finds out that a missing vampire has been kidnapped by a local anti-vampire cult, and she is expected to sneak into the cult to gather information on his predicament, Sookie finds herself in all sorts of trouble with the vampire-haters. The plot is predictable and tired. Actually, I think the TrueBlood writers did a great job adapting it for the screen; I think their screenplay of this book would be infinitely more readable.

There are several lessons to be found in my experience. 1) Do not read this book. 2) Do not buy this book for a friend (even if she, like, tOtAlLy lOvEs vAmPiRe bOyZ!) 3) When you see this book at Costco, know that there's a good reason it's half off cover price.

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