livingdeadLiving Dead in Dallas
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #2
By Charlaine Harris
read by Johanna Parker
Published by Recorded Books
Approx 8.5 hours

Okay we have to wait for a few months before the return of the series “True Blood” on HBO and the return of Sookie Stackhouse, but during the interim I highly recommend picking up the books either regular or audio and enjoy the other storis in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries.  I was told, due to my love of vampire and zombie stories, that I should check out the Sookie stories.   I then read a collection of short stories that had a story by Charlaine Harris that took place in the Sookie world but was Sookie-less and found the writing very entertaining.  By the way, the main reason I picked up the book was because it also featured a Harry Dresden story by my favorite author, Jim Butcher.  So, liking the storytelling and the humor in the short story, I tried out Ms. Harris’ novels.  I read the first book just as season one of “True Blood” was at midpoint.  After reading the book I had to check out the series and have been hooked on both ever since.

The Sookie Stackhouse series tells of a romantic world where vampires have “come out of the coffin,” and are mainstreaming (trying to live alongside humans, rather than living ON humans).  With the invention of a synthetic blood, now available in six-packs, the vampires can live without killing, but not all vampires are mainstreaming.

“Living Dead in Dallas”  pretty much covers what was in season two of the “True Blood” TV series.  I will tell you that the TV series took lots of poetic license and added things in here and there that kept to the main theme of this book but made for some more visually stimulating stories.  For example, Maenad, a female follower of Dionysus(I’ll explain more about the Maenad later) in the tv series pretty much took over Bon Temps, Sookie’s hometown, while she was away in Dallas, giving a bigger role to Michelle Forbes, who played Admiral Cain on Battlestar Galactica.  So that was okay.

Okay let’s talk about this book. “Living Dead in Dallas” finds Sookie having to hold true to her word to help Eric and the vampires by using her “disability” or gift as the vampires call it, of being a telepath. Sookie can read thoughts and the vampires in Dallas have had one of their “nest mates” (vampires live in a nest within a city, you know) has gone missing.  Also the cook at the bar where Sookie works, Lafayette Reynolds, is found dead and his body in the back seat of Detective Andy Belfleur’s car.  Lafayette was a gay black man that had a lot against him, but he was a friend of Sookies and she wants to find his murderer, but before that can happen sookie and her boyfriend vampire Bill are sent to Dallas to help find the missing vampire.

Before finding out her mission Bill and Sookie get into an argument and their car stops.  Sookie threatens to walk either home or to Fangtasia, the bar owned by Eric.  Bill goes to find a mechanic.  While bill is gone sookie is confronted by a Maenad.  Again Maenad’s are ancient beings, their name literally translates as “raving ones”. Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus, into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh.  So now that your Greek mythology is refreshed, this Maenad wants to send a message to Eric Northman, yes the same Vampire Eric Sookie is out to see.  The message comes in the form of a brutal attack on Sookie in which she is severely scratched and poisoned.  Eric gets Sookie treated by a mysterious dwarf doctor who heals Sookie, barely, and Sookie and Bill are sent to Dallas.  No rest or mercy when it comes to vampires.

In Dallas, Sookie Discovers that the missing vampire was last seen in the company of an ancient teenage vampire right before he goes missing.  The young vampire turns out to be Godric an vampire that is wanting to “meet the dawn”, or rather die in the sun, suicide for a vampire, because Godric has a very evil past, he has feasted upon children during his long life.  Godric has turned himself in to a newly formed religious cult, “Fellowship of the Sun,” whose sole mission is to destroy all vampires.  Godric plans to sacrifice himself and the other vampire as the followers watch.  Sookie goes undercover into the church to rescue the vampires.

When Sookie returns to Bon Temps, she continues to find Lafayette’s murderer and traces it back to a group of locals that have weekly orgies, and the Maenad makes her reappearance.

During this story Sookie learns of more shapeshifters that are organized in Dallas and maybe a couple of real werewolves.

Johanna Parker delivers this story in a perfect Sookie Stackhouse voice, I’m thinking Anna Paquin may have studied the audio books to prepare for her role.  The books are told in first person from Sookie’s point of view and not only have the adventure and thrills but some really southern fried humor.  Check them out while waiting for season three of “True Blood.”

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