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REVIEW

"Vampire and Telepath solve murder mystery in small town U.S.A."

A Vampire named Bill? Hey why not! He's a bone fide American after all. At long last a vampire for the common woman. DEAD UNTIL DARK is set in the town of Bon Temps in rural northern Louisiana, four years after vampires have "come out of the coffin', so to speak, and have been acknowledged as legal citizens. These undead must answer to, and are protected by, the same laws that govern humans. Acknowledged yes, but not widely accepted, and like the living they come in all varieties.

Most folk kept their distance from them, but there were always groupies who got their thrills from dangerous and deadly pastimes. For the most part the vampires tended to congregate in large cities like New Orleans, where their activities went mostly unremarked.

Sookie Stackhouse, had waited a long time to see her first vampire in Bon Temps, and now here he was sitting in one of her booths. This is a special treat for Sookie, a bar waitress, who is 'disabled' and doesn't have much of a social life. Sookie's actually very pretty, but intimacy took on a whole other meaning when you could read your suitor's minds. True she spent most of her energy shielding her mind from the din of other's thoughts, for sanity's sake and an innate sense of politeness, but that wasn't possible when she was touching someone. Most folks weren't willing to admit to her disability. They just said she was crazy. Those that believed simply avoided her.

Sookie's joy is deflated when she notices the seedy Rattray couple insinuating themselves into her vampire's company. She doesn't like them and knows they've spent time in jail. Opening her mind she learns the reason. They're vampire drainers! Illegal but very profitable. When the vampire leaves with the couple, she is sure he's in trouble, and she's right. Fortunately she is able to rescue him. He isn't terribly gracious about it though, so Sookie attempts to read him. Nothing! How marvelous. Here is a handsome, interesting man, and she can't hear what he's thinking. Someone is murdered that night however a female convenience store clerk with a taste for vampires. She'd had bite marks on her thighs, but the cause of death was strangulation. Was the killer a vampire or human?

Three night's later Bill Compton, the vampire, returns Sookie's favor when the Rattrays return to revenge themselves on her. She's fatally wounded when he arrives. In an ironic twist, Bill donates his blood to save her. Sookie's more than a little glad he's stuck around. She really likes him, an when she learns he'd served in the Civil War she invites him to address her grandmother's club, The Descendants of the Glorious Dead. Bill comes over to meet Sookie's grandmother who is thrilled that she's finally captured the interest of a man. Afterwards they go for a walk and it is clear that there is interest on both of their parts. Sound good? Well then all heck breaks loose.

Several of Bill's vampire acquaintances show up and their awful behavior reminds Sookie of what Bill really is. It scares her a lot. Still he seems different and when another woman is murdered (same M.O.) and both Bill and Sookie's handsome, promiscuous, brother are considered suspects, she braves a vampire hot spot to try to acquit them of blame. Unfortunately she draws the interest of another handsome vampire who has seniority over Bill. Yikes. Then the murders hits home and Sookie realizes that she had been the intended victim. She does fit the profile after all. Now she must discover the identity of the killer before it is too late for all of them. Sometimes a disability can come in handy .

Wow, this was a great tale. You have murder, mayhem, mystery, three paranormal elements (the third is a surprise), romance, and humor. It is wonderfully well written. I doubt anyone will guess the identity of the killer until it is revealed. I recommend a second reading to truly appreciate the subtlety of the clues Ms. Harris weaves into the story. I just love stories that are written in the first person, this was an added bonus. It was narrated by Sookie and this lent to much of the humor. It is not a traditional romance in the sense that, yes Sookie and Bill care a great deal for each other, and yes they are definitely intimate, but there are still lots of problems to be worked out. The story is left open ended, rather like J.D. Robb's IN DEATH novels. I can't wait to find out what happens next in the continuation, LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS, to be released April 1, 2002.

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted April 3, 2002

SUMMARY

A Southern Vampire Mystery

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability". She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable.

And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome--and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life . . .

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of--big surprise--murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next . . .

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Read an Excerpt

 

Dead Until Dark
(Sookie Stackhouse: Book 1)
by Charlaine Harris

Ace Books
May 1, 2001
Available: May 1, 2001
ISBN #0441008534
EAN #9780441008537
260 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Charlaine Harris

Down These Strange Streets
Home Improvement: Undead Edition
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion
Dead Reckoning
Death's Excellent Vacation
Dead in the Family
Crimes by Moonlight
A Touch of Dead
Grave Secret
Must Love Hellhounds
Night's Edge
Strange Brew
Dead and Gone
Unusual Suspects
Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
Blood Lite
From Dead to Worse
An Ice Cold Grave
Many Bloody Returns
All Together Dead
My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Grave Surprise
Definitely Dead
Grave Sight
Dead As A Doornail
Bite
Night's Edge
Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy
Dead to the World
Poppy Done to Death
Club Dead
Last Scene Alive
Living Dead In Dallas
Shakespeare's Counselor
Shakespeare's Trollop
A Fool and His Honey
Shakespeare's Christmas
Shakespeare's Champion
Shakespeare's Landlord
Dead Over Heels
The Julius House
Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
A Bone to Pick
Real Murders


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