Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading Charlaine Harris

And now for something a little bit different…

I just finished reading From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris. As I added it to my list of books read in 2010, I realized that the last four books I read were all by Charlaine Harris. First off, I read the final two books in her Harper Connolly series. (Well, I assume that they're the final two as the last book tied up all the loose ends.) Then I read numbers 7 & 8 in her Sookie Stackhouse series.

A quick review of these books:

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine HarrisAn Ice Cold Grave, Harper Connolly #3.

Harper and her step-brother Tolliver Lang are asked to travel to a small town in North Carolina and attempt to locate the bodies of young men once thought to be runaways, but now suspected to be victims of a serial killer. (Since she was struck by lightning when she was 15, Harper has been able to locate bodies and know the cause of death.) Sure enough, she quickly locates the property on which eight bodies are buried, but things just get worse. Forbidden to leave the area until the police are satisfied that they have all the information they need, Harper is attacked and injured, further delaying their departure. Which means she and Tolliver are dragged into the investigation to discover the killer.

Grave Secret by Charlaine HarrisGrave Secret, Harper Connolly #4.

By the time I finished reading An Ice Cold Grave, I was a little bit weirded out. I found that book to be quite distressing and I almost didn't continue on with the fourth book. But I'm really glad that I did. In this fourth book—which appears to be a conclusion to the series—Harper and Tolliver have traveled back to Texas to visit their younger half-sisters. On the way there, they stop off near their hometown of Texarkana for a quick job with a very wealthy family who asks for confirmation that the family patriarch really died of natural causes. And thus the stage is set to tie up a number of loose ends which have been dangling through the entire series.

I have to say that this was a very good series and I'm sad to see that it might be ending. In a field cluttered with any number of paranormal novels, Harper's talent was unique. Not only that, but Harris explored more thoroughly the implications and repercussions of such a talent on Harper and her manager/step-brother Tolliver. I would be delighted if Harris chooses to reprise this heroine.

On to Sookie.

All Together Dead by Charlaine HarrisAll Together Dead, Sookie Stackhouse #7.

In this seventh book starring the telepathic barmaid from Bon Temps, Louisiana, Sookie travels to Rhodes (on the shore of Lake Michigan) to assist Sophie-Anne Leclerq (Vampire Queen of Louisiana) at a regional summit of the vampire leadership. Not only is there plotting and positioning (and murder and mayhem) among the vampire attendees, but the Fellowship of the Sun is protesting the presence of the vampires. Sookie has her own problems, too. She detests Bill, is wary of Eric, and is falling for Quinn—and all three are vying for her attention there in Rhodes. As a full-on battle ensues, Sookie is right in the middle.

Looking back through my reading records, I see that I read the previous book, Definitely Dead, in October 2009. One reason I hadn't read any further in the series was that I didn't have a copy of All Together Dead until June of this year. But that's not a very good excuse, since I could have gotten a copy any time I wanted. I think the real reason that I wasn't pushing too hard to read any more about Sookie is that I was simply annoyed with her and her whining. But once I started reading this book, I realized that she wasn't whiney at all—at least not in the books. It's the characterization in True Blood on HBO that I'm so annoyed with. And it's a shame that I let the video production interfere with my enjoyment of the books. I'm so over that now.

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine HarrisFrom Dead to Worse, Sookie Stackhouse #8.

And thus on to Sookie's eighth adventure. After the bombing, fires, and deaths at the end of All Together Dead, all the major characters are simply trying to get everything back to normal. Sophie-Anne is recuperating from injuries received in Rhodes and her now-expanded territory is being managed by the sherriffs of Louisiana and Arkansas. Sookie last saw Quinn, her weretiger boyfriend, in the hospital in Rhodes and she hasn't been able to contact him. And then, she's invited to supper in Shreveport where she meets her great-grandfather, a fairy prince. As Sookie is learning more about her family and its history, powerful vampires in other parts of the country are moving in on Louisiana, wresting the area from Sophie-Anne. Not to be undone, there's a major coup among the weres. And, as is to be expected, Sookie is squarely in the middle of all this trouble.

I really enjoyed both of these books and I'm eager to get my hands on Dead and Gone so I can see what happens next.

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