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Living Dead in Dallas – Charlaine Harris

September 13, 2009

Just in time for the season finale of True Blood tonight, I have finished writing my review of Living Dead in Dallas.

The second book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series begins with a stark reminder that the books follow a very different path to the True Blood TV series. Sookie discovers a dead body in the back of Detective Andy Bellefleur’s car, and it turns out to be Lafayette.

Sookie and Bill are then summoned to Shreveport, a result of Sookie’s deal with Eric in Dead Until Dark, that she would assist him solve certain problems if he agreed to turn the guilty humans over to the authorities, rather than kill them. On the way, an argument ensues, Bill’s car stops, and Sookie gets out to walk home. This being Sookie, she gets attacked by a maenad, Bill rushes her to Fangtasia, where she’s cured by the vamps.

At this point, I have to say, this is when I ended up squarely on Team Eric, I read this book well before I’d seen his characterisation in True Blood, so I can say it was not entirely due to Alexander Skarsgard, although I’m pretty sure he would have convinced me anyway. The way he’s written in these scenes leaves the reader with no illusions that he is a supremely dangerous individual, but at the same time, one with a wicked sense of humour, and sense of the ridiculous. His apology to Sookie for her injuries made me laugh out loud.

It transpires that Eric has loaned Sookie to the Dallas vampires, she must go and see them, with Bill as her escort ‘to ensure they don’t kill you, or keep you’, as Eric puts it. As soon as Sookie steps off the plane in Dallas, she’s attacked, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the trip. They meet with Stan, the head vampire, who explains he has lost a member of his nest, and wants Sookie to find out where he is.

Sookie manages to discover that Farrell, the missing vamp was tricked into leaving a vamp bar with another vampire, who Stan knows is fed up with his vamp existence and has joined with the radical Fellowship of the Sun anti-vampire church, where he is expected to ‘meet the sun’. It appears he plans to take Farrell with him.

The following day, Sookie heads for the Fellowship Centre with Hugo, playing the part of a couple. They get invited to the ‘lock-in’ that evening, however, when Sookie and Hugo try to leave, it goes downhill rapidly, and the couple end up locked in a basement, where Sookie also discovers that Hugo is a traitor and is working for the Institute. They know who she is, and plan to sacrifice her with Godfrey. She tries to contact Bill via the bellboy at the hotel, who she has realised is also a telepath.

After locating Farrell, she is attacked and rescued by Godfrey. She then manages to escape the Institute with the help of Luna, who is a shapeshifter investigating them. The folllowing night, the Instutite attack Stan’s house, and Sookie has two shocks: She ingests Eric’s blood, following some sneaky emotional pressure from him, and discovers that Bill preferred to go off hunting humans than check up on her. She accepts that this is his nature, and what he has tried to tell her all along, but doesn’t like it, and returns home alone.

On returning to Bon Temps, Sookie uncovers the secret sex club both she and Portia had been trying to uncover, and turns up, with Eric in tow, as Bill is out of town. Again, we see the lengths Eric will go to for Sookie, as he not only pretends to be gay but willingly goes out in pink lycra. Honestly, never in a million years would Bill have done that for her, and for me, it shows that despite all his power and influence, Eric still has a fun side. Also, the conversation she has with him arranging this is a masterpiece:

“I am here,” Eric said.
“And I am here.” I was a little amused at Eric’s phone answering technique.
“Sookie, my little bullet-sucker,” he said, sounding fond and warm.
“Eric, my big bullshitter.”
“You want something, my darling?”
“I’m not your darling, and you know it, for one thing. For another—Bill said you were coming over here
tomorrow night?”

“Yes, to tromp up in the woods looking for the maenad. She finds our offerings of vintage wine and a
young bull inadequate.”
“You took her a live bull?” I was momentarily sidetracked by the vision of Eric herding a cow into a
trailer and driving it to the shoulder of the interstate and shooing it into the trees.
“Yes, indeed we did. Pam and Indira and I.”
“Was it fun?”
“Yes,” he said, sounding faintly surprised. “It had been several centuries since I dealt with livestock. Pam
is a city girl. Indira had too much awe of the bull to be a lot of help. But if you like, the next time I have to
transport animals I will give you a call, and you can go along.”
“Thanks, that would be lovely,” I said, feeling pretty confident that was a call I’d never get. “The reason I
called you is that I need you to go to a party with me tomorrow night.”
A long silence.
“Bill is no longer your bedmate? The differences you developed in Dallas are permanent?”
“What I should have said is, ‘I need a bodyguard for tomorrow night.’ Bill’s in Dallas.” I was smacking
myself on the forehead with the heel of my hand. “See, there’s a long explanation, but the situation is that I
need to go to a party tomorrow night that’s really just a . . . well, it’s a . . . kind of orgy thing? And I need
someone with me in case . . . just in case.”
“That’s fascinating,” Eric said, sounding fascinated. “And since I’m going to be in the neighborhood, you
thought I might do as an escort? To an orgy?”
“You can look almost human,” I said.
“This is a human orgy? One that excludes vampires?”
“It’s a human orgy that doesn’t know a vampire is coming.”
“So, the more human I look the less frightening I’ll be?”
“Yes, I need to read their thoughts. Pick their brains. And if I get them thinking about a certain thing, and
pick their brains, then we can get out of there.” I’d just had a great idea about how to get them to think
about Lafayette. Telling Eric was going to be the problem.
“So you want me to go to a human orgy, where I will not be welcome, and you want us to leave before I
get to enjoy myself?”
“Yes,” I said, almost squeaking in my anxiety. In for a penny, in for a pound. “And . . . do you think you
could pretend to be gay?”
There was a long silence. “What time do I need to be there?” Eric asked softly.
“Um. Nine-thirty? So I can brief you?”
“Nine-thirty at your house.”
“I am carrying the phone back,” Pam informed me. “What did you say to Eric? He is shaking his head
back and forth with his eyes shut.”
“Is he laughing, even a little bit?”
“Not that I can tell,” Pam said.

Sookie manages to retrieve what she needs to know at the party, but there’s a showdown outside when Bill turns up, as does Andy Bellefleur, as does Sam in dog form, and the maenad, Callisto. She provokes madness in the other partygoers, and nearly sends Sookie over the edge, too.  At the end, we discover some of Bill’s history, and his dislike of the Bellefleur family. However, Sookie realises they are in fact related, and we hear more of Bill’s life before he was turned and just after. He also instructs Sookie that if anything was to happen to him she should go to Eric. All of which sets up the intro to book three nicely.

Overall, I preferred this book to Dead Until Dark, and it was mainly because of Eric. As I finished this, he had only appeared a couple of times on True Blood, and the book gave him so much more depth, and he made me laugh. Dead Until Dark sucked me into the series, but it was this book which made me stick with it, and really fall in love with it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alexandra R. permalink
    February 5, 2010 5:08 am

    Team Eric or Bill?! A must answer question. Oh how I love the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Check out my Sookie’s Bedpost blog @ http://alexandrawhit.wordpress.com

    • February 5, 2010 2:06 pm

      Team Eric, definitely. I can say with confidence that this was influenced by the books not the TV show, as I’d already read the first three books before we really got to see much of him on TV, but he certainly helped cement the decision!

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