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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS
Charlaine Harris
Ace Mass Market Original/ $6.50/ 262 pages
ISBN: 0441009239

Hot damn! Sookie, my favorite telepathic waitress, and her vampire-boyfriend Bill are back. I mentioned her debut in DEAD UNTIL DARK (see review) in issue #36 and am thrilled author Charlaine Harris ("the love child of Laurell K. Hamilton and Joe R. Lansdale -- with maybe Tanya Huff and P.N. Elrod as baby-sitters") has continued her adventures. Although the sequel stands on its own, if you didn't catch DEAD UNTIL DARK, pick it up along LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS and read it first. You don't want to miss a single paragraph of this "Southern vampire" series.

This time out Lafayette -- a flamboyantly gay black cook at Merlotte's (the restaurant where Sookie work) in Bon Temps, LA -- has been murdered. Like Sookie and Bill, Lafayette was a round peg who didn't fit in the world's square holes. The murderer appears to be the son of the local landed gentry, the Bellefleurs -- Southern aristocrats who make sure those holes stay round.

cover Meanwhile Sookie gets attacked by a viscious maenad [a woman driven mad by Bacchus (back in the good old Greek gods on the rampage days) who has become immortal and really pushy] whose poison "compromises" her blood. The only thing that will save Sookie's life is for a bunch of vampire-pals to drain her blood (and replace it with a human-blood transfusion.) Scarred, but saved, Sookie and Bill (in his coffin) are soon on their way to Dallas to use her unique abilities to help find Farrell, a missing vampire. The plot thickens as the Fellowship of the Sun rears its ugly head ("What the Klan was to African-Americans, the Fellowship was to vampires. It was the fastest-growing cult in America."), Sookie and Bill split up, the mystery of who really killed Lafayette is investigated, there's an orgy, and an interesting geneological sidebar.

It's obvious there's intelligent thought about the societal and economic impact of the enfranchisement of vampires. Anti-undead bigotry and backlash are, unfortunately, to be expected in even a fictional America. (Undiluted vampiric blood has become the drug du jour and black market prices are high.) A relationship between a mortal (if telepathic) woman and a vampire is going to be prone to dangerous interference whether they want it or not. This all hints at further adventures for Sookie and Bill.

It's all delivered in well-written fast-paced Southern twang that will keep you turning the pages. So, lift those glasses of O Positive high and welcome what looks to be a long-running series of "humorous vampire mysteries with a romantic element" that's a delightful blend of humor, intrigue, mild eroticism, and human (and non-human) nature. (March 2002) -- Paula Guran (Orginally appeared in CEMETERY DANCE #39)

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.