Dead Reckoning

If it weren't for the fact that "NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED" is written on the cover of the latest Sookie book... well, you kind of could have fooled me. Dead Reckoning felt like a dead ringer for the last installment, Dead in the Family, with some minor details changed. It's yet another book of prep work for future explosions and laying the foundation for bigger issues, with enough of a battle at the end to keep everything interesting and technically "advance" the plot. We're still mopping up a fairy mess, we're still dealing with Victor, and we're still wondering what the hell Sookie and Eric are doing with their relationship/vampire marriage. Thank goodness it's been a solid year since I've read the last one or I'd be more irritated at the fact that the main positive point of this book seems simply to be that it exists and affords the reader a few hundred more pages of life in Charlaine Harris's vampire-riddled world. As it stands, I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that this series may have run its course, unless Harris really is planning for big things (and there are hints this could be true or at least that she wants us to think it's true), but I'm also aware of something I've stated in previous Sookie books: I'm going to keep reading and I know it, so there's no sense in my denying it or threatening that I'll stop. It's not in my nature and every time I open up a new Sookie book, I still feel like I'm settling in to something comfortable and familiar and I realize that I had, indeed, missed it.

The book opens with a bang... well, to be specific, a fire via Molotov cocktail (it seems Sookie has exchanged her word-a-day calendar of old for crime novels). Tossed through the window of Sam's bar during working hours, the cocktail fire causes minimal destruction and no one is too severely injured (though Sam was burned a bit and of Sookie's hair was singed) and while the police and everyone else might think this is your usual hate crime against the two-natured, Sookie caught a fleeting glimpse of the culprit and thinks their attacker is a shifter, too. Eric quickly arrives on the scene and we're reminded that he and Sookie have that blood bond and that they're married, vampire-style. Sookie's finally going to do something about that in this book (though we continue to remain baffled why Sookie feels this deep need to *do* something about it). Meanwhile, Eric is being unusually cagey, even for Eric, and later on, we'll learn (via Pam) that beyond plots to kill Victor, things are Not Okay in Eric world. Speaking of Victor, he's still trying to kill basically everyone (topping the list are Eric, Pam, and Sookie) and Eric's had enough and is finally ready to take him out. Oh, and also among those trying to kill Sookie? Do you remember Debbie Pelt's even crazier sister? Yeah, her. And Sam's still dating that werewolf. And Bill's still in love with Sookie. And the fairies are still around, despite the fact that their world was almost entirely sealed off, but we'll learn a little more about Sookie's fairy side. All in all, one feels like a whole book is needed just to check in on all the characters in this world, let along advance their individual plotlines by much. Oddly, it makes things feel very realistic -- one has too many friends to keep track of and there's a lot of schedule juggling so one can put in the hours at work, see one's vampire boyfriend, and still throw a baby shower for a "we used to be much closer" friend.

So, fans should enjoy this book if only because it gives us more and that's pleasant enough, but I still feel like we're gearing up for bigger things. At least the end of this book makes me feel like the next will, indeed, deal with quite interesting issues... and, let's face it, at the top of that list for me is Eric, his politics and his twisted relationship with Sookie. It may not be a good idea for them to be together, but I guess one should enjoy him while he lasts. (Speaking of Eric, there's an impressive scene involving a porch swing, the realistic logistics of which it's better to just ignore.) Otherwise, let the countdown for book twelve begin.

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