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All Together Dead – Charlaine Harris

01 Aug

Book seven of the Sookie Stackhouse series finds the eponymous heroine conscripted into service by Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Lousiana’s vampire queen. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Sophie-Anne (and Louisiana’s vampire community at large) finds herself in a precarious position—both are far less wealthy and powerful than before. Jennifer Cater, the King of Arkansas’ second-in-command, is also suing Sophie-Anne for the king’s death (which happens in Definitely Dead). Sophie-Anne must stand trial at the upcoming vampire summit. Because she fears what her vampire peers have in store for her, she asks Sookie to be her telepathic eyes and ears. Whatever the queen wants, she receives, and Sookie has a hard time turning down Sophie-Anne. At the summit, Sookie faces more danger than she has before. Neither she nor the vampire world will emerge unscathed.

All Together Dead moves at warp speed, with Harris resolving old plots (Jason’s relationship with Crystal and the upcoming Bellefleur double wedding) and weaving new ones. Readers will notice that Sookie has a harder edge and is more willing to dish out punishment and use her powers unscrupulously, although her conscience usually stops her. Sookie is no longer the wide-eyed, innocent we met in Dead Until Dark, but she remains intensely likeable. Harris is also not afraid to turn her well-woven vampire world upside down. There’s no sense in becoming too attached to any of Harris’ characters—they may eventually find themselves dead, as many of them do in this outing.

All Together Dead feels less incomplete than Definitely Dead, but inconsistencies are beginning to show (why does Barry the Bellboy not remember that Sookie was in a relationship with Bill?). The genre of the Sookie series is also shifting from mystery to supernatural soap opera. There are many plots and sub-plots for Harris to keep track of, and it seems like the author has a hard time deciding which ones should be her focus, sometimes to the detriment of the main plot. Harris spent too much time on the upcoming Bellefleur nuptials and Jason’s own wedding and breezed through the vampire summit plot, resulting in a flurried, confused climax.

Overall All Together Dead was a fun read, thanks to Sookie, but as the series becomes more harried, the ride is harder to enjoy.

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