Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Dead ReckoningA review by Nalini Haynes

Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in a family bar/lounge called Merlottes in Louisiana, near New Orleans. Sookie is part fae, telepathic and is in a relationship with a vampire while her best friend and boss, Sam Merlotte, is the shapeshifter who owns the bar. Sookie’s current squeeze is Eric Northman, a former Viking turned vampire who loves power and is currently sheriff of a vampire territory. Eric’s child Pam looks prim and proper but is also vicious and lethal. In Dead Reckoning Sookie is living with Claude, a full-blooded gay fairy who works as a stripper and Dermott, Sookie’s great uncle who is half fae and looks very similar to Sookie’s brother Jason. Sandra Pelt, a shapeshifter who has tried to kill Sookie in the past, returns to try again.

In Dead Reckoning Victor, the real villain of the piece, has been appointed Regent of Louisiana instead of king. He decides to take it out on Eric, to provoke Eric to attack so Victor can kill Eric without reprisals. However, Sookie and her friends decide to kill Victor instead. The change in Sookie’s character leading to her decision to kill someone in cold blood is acknowledged although I felt it was somewhat shallow and unjustified – you don’t murder your business opponents and other bastards just because they’re taking your customers away and making life difficult. That way leads to the dark side and probably a gaol cell – without cookies.

Dead Reckoning is the 14th in the series so the characters have a considerable amount of history. This is balanced with explanatory references to what has gone before, but I suspect that a reader starting with this book would be somewhat lost and probably frustrated by the lack of understanding of the characters in this book. I found the explanatory references to be excessive and somewhat repetitive – I was repeatedly reminded that I haven’t read the book where Sookie is locked in the trunk and Niall, Sookie’s great-grandfather, returns.

I started reading this series from the beginning a while ago but 4 books ago decided to give it a rest. In the four books I missed there doesn’t seem to have been much development in the characters. Although a few melodramatic incidents have occurred, it seems I haven’t missed much. It was nice to revisit Sookie and company to catch up. I find this series is like chocolate – a guilty pleasure indulged in occasionally.

Readers who enjoy soap operas and paranormal fiction with romance will love the series and this book.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.