Charlaine Harris,
Dead in Dallas
(Ace, 2002)

Living Dead in Dallas is a fun book. It's not heavy, but it's certainly a good kick-back-and-read-in-the-bath sort of story.

For those of us who scorn the romance novel genre but still enjoy a light read, Charlaine Harris is ideal. And I feel like I've gotten a worthwile story when I'm done. Maybe it's the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, and her absolute satisfaction with her life. There's something really wholesome about her. Not in a boring, Debbie Gibson way, but like mashed potatoes. It's comfort food, and always welcome.

I just love that Sookie's a waitress, and that her job makes her happy. She lives in her grandmother's old house and doesn't want to move out. And she likes her troubled brother -- he's confused, but a good guy at heart. What a relief to read a character who wants to know the good news about people first. Of course, it could be due to Sookie's "disability," which is that she can read minds. Hearing people's thoughts, their real feelings, can be disturbing to say the least.

This is the second book in the series, and by now Sookie has adjusted somewhat to her unique gift, even finding useful outlets for it. Like solving mysteries. Who better to catch a murderer than someone who can seek them out without the culprit even noticing he's being "questioned"? In this book, she's taking on an upstart religious cult and trying to locate an abducted vampire.

The complicating factor in Sookie's life is that she's fallen in love with a vampire. Not the sort who skulks around, hiding from and feeding off humans. This one is legally recognized as citizen and drinks bottled synthetic blood. Still, it isn't easy dating the formerly dead. There is the issue of sunlight, an aversion to garlic and at least 100 years of difference in their ages. But love is love, and you rarely get to chose whom you fall for. So they're making a go of it, and the interaction between them is sweet.

Even though the setting is Louisiana, it's rural (except when it's in Dallas, when it's neither rural nor in Louisiana). There's not much soupy Anne Rice-ness to it (although I should admit my fondness for Anne Rice here.)

Read Dead Until Dark, the first book, which is equally good. My only regret with Living Dead in Dallas is that, once I started reading, I just went straight through to the end. I had to know what was going to happen, but it was over too quickly.

- Rambles
written by Katie Knapp
published 1 February 2003

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