Definitely Dead – Charlaine Harris

14 Mar

In Definitely Dead, the sixth Sookie Stackhouse novel, we find Sookie on her way to New Orleans to sort out the affairs of her dead vampire cousin Hadley.

This should have been fast-moving ride, but instead Harris hampers the plot flow by littering the early portion of Definitely Dead with nonessentials, like Sookie posing for glamour shots with Claude the Fairy, and Sookie looking for a missing child (heartwarming, but nonessential). However, Harris relegates the precipitating action to the short story “One Word Answer,” leaving readers who are unfamiliar with the story (like me) confused and annoyed. I would have liked to have met Hadley and Sophie-Anne (Louisiana’s vampire queen) during the height of the drama that lead to Hadley’s death. Instead, I had to muddle through this novel putting pieces together for myself. For the first third of the book I honestly didn’t know what the plot was about—Harris throws sub-plots at her readers left and right, from Jason Stackhouse’s girlfriend’s pregnancy scare, to the Bellefleur wedding(s), to Sookie’s new love interest, Quinn. These details may have some relevance to later novels, but did nothing to advance Definitely Dead’s plot.

To her credit, Harris ties up one long-standing sub-plot, the death of Debbie Pelt, neatly, though not cleverly. As a peace offering, she does divulge even more details about her engrossing supernatural world, including why Sookie is so attractive to supernatural men. She also introduces several intriguing new characters, including Sophie-Anne and the witch Amelia. If Harris ever wanted to create a new spin-off series, her books are rife with appealing characters.

I am starting to tire of Sookie’s ever-changing love-life, especially since it always seems to put her in danger, and I’m really tired of her constantly being beat up or taken advantage of. With all that has happened to her in the last few books (including being staked, shot, and strangled, to name just a few), you’d think she’d have armed guards with her at all times, or at least a decent security system. I’m not sure the lack of either is a testament to Sookie’s toughness or her stupidity, but I can’t help but think she won’t make it out of this series alive. As it is, she isn’t the wide-eyed heroine we met in Dead Until Dark. She’s become battle-hardened and willing to deal out the same punishment in kind. I like that Harris has allowed her to evolve, but I feel sad for Sookie because she’s even more damaged than she was when the series opened.

Still, I’m going to continue with the series, until it annoys me enough that I will choose to ignore the later books and read the earlier ones with wistful glee. If you’re going to pick up Definitely Dead, be sure to read “One Word Answer” first.


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