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    Review of Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

    This is the second book in the wildly popular Southern Vampire Mystery urban fantasy books written by Charlaine Harris. This book opens with our heroine, the lovable, plucky, Sookie Stackhouse, finding the dead body of a friend in the backseat of the local police detective’s car. Because the detective in question was at home at the time of the murder, it’s obvious that the body was killed at a different location and placed in the car.

    Sookie learns that her friend had recently attended a local sex party. She thinks the members of that group might know something about her friend’s murder so she starts “snooping” by using her special mind reading talent. Since Sookie works at the local bar she’s afforded lots of opportunities to hear what the locals are thinking.

    In the meantime, Bill Compton, Sookie’s vampire boyfriend, informs her that she’s been summoned to Dallas to help the local vampire leader find his missing brother. Sookie doesn’t really have a say in the matter since she’d promised to do the vampires a favor previously in exchange for the lives of several humans. Therefore she and Bill head to Dallas.

    It’s here that Charlaine Harris provides additional insight into the modern day vampire world she’s created. In order to get to Dallas Bill must fly in his coffin on a special airline, Anubis Air, which specializes in transporting vampires across the country. Sookie is on the same flight but sits in the passenger area of course.

    Once they arrive in Dallas she’s approached by a human who attempts to abduct both she and Bill. Fortunately, this occurs after dusk and Bill is able to save them. This encounter proves to be more important later in the book.

    Bill and Sookie make their way to the Dallas vampire leader’s house to learn more about his missing vampire brother. By reading the minds of the humans that last saw the vampire she’s able to discern that a radical religious group called The Fellowship of the Sun is involved. This group “encourages” vampires to repent their sins by “meeting the sun”, a ceremony heavily attended by Fellowship members; the setting is reminiscent of public hangings from the Wild West. These people are dangerous. However because the Dallas vampire leader is understandably concerned about the welfare of his brother Sookie volunteers to visit The Fellowship the next day with the human boyfriend of one of the Dallas vampires.

    This proves to be a big mistake.

    The next scenes involve abduction, assault, and murder. This is where Charlaine Harris’ action-adventure writing skills really shine. These scenes are intense, heart-wrenching, and thoroughly entertaining. Sookie accomplishes her mission but at a great cost to herself and other humans and vampires. The ordeal concludes with an ethical disagreement between she and Bill which results in Sookie’s return to Bon Temps alone.

    Although still distraught over her argument with Bill, Sookie returns to daily drudgery of waitressing at Merlotte’s, the local Bon Temps bar. She’s soon approached by a local who invites her to an adult sex party.

    Since her friend’s killer still hasn’t been caught she agrees, but brings Eric Northman, the Shreveport vampire leader, as a bodyguard. The resulting scenes between Sookie and represent some of the funniest dialogue I’ve read in an urban fantasy book in a long while. It’s nothing short of hilarious.

    Overall Charlaine Harris does a great job combining drama, romance, action, and comedy into a fast paced, entertaining storyline. Although this represents the second installment in the series it works well as a standalone book, due in part to Charlaine Harris’ fantastic character development and world building.
    About the Author

    To see these characters on the small screen check out HBO’s True Blood series which is based on Ms. Harris’ urban fantasy books. The first book in the vampire books series recently topped the NY Times Bestsellers List.

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