11.6.12

'Deadlocked' by Charlaine Harris

I read 'Deadlocked' by Charlaine Harris, the penultimate book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, on which the crazy-and-great TV show 'True Blood' is based, on holiday last month, around the time when it was announced that the 13th and final installment, 'Dead Ever After', will be published next May.

I've read all of these books now, having devoured the first few after the first series of the show aired in the UK (I blogged about the book series for the first time last May) and caught up with the rest since. I've generally loved the sexy, witty satire on which these books are based, and I think Sookie, the protagonist and narrator, is a stand-out voice amongst all of the books I've read over the last few years. 

The premise of this particular one is that Sookie goes to Eric's, her vampire boyfriend, house,  and finds him feeding on a girl who is then found dead on his front lawn. However bad this looks to her, the circumstances are all a bit fishy, so she tries to get to the bottom of it whilst also dealing with her fae family and various other things. She still has the cluviel dor in her possession, which is a rare and desirable faery protection object, so inevitably this puts her in the firing line too, although the body count is much lower for this book than for others in the series.

"Mr Northman?" she said, her hand dropping to her side like a stone. "I'm Detective Cara Ambroselli."
"Detective Ambroselli, you seem to know who I am already. This is my dearest one, Sookie Stackhouse."
"Is there really a dead person on the lawn?" I asked. "Who is she?" I didn't have to make up the curiosity and anxiety in my voice. I really, really wanted to know.
"We were hoping you could help us with that," the detective said. "We're pretty sure the dead woman was leaving your house Mr. Northman."
"Why do you think so? You're sure it was this house?" Eric said.
"Vampire bites on her neck, party clothes, your front yard. Yeah, we're pretty sure," Ambroselli said drily. "If you could just step over here, keeping your feet on the stepping-stones..."

However....this book is not Charlaine Harris' best. It must be so tricky writing the 12th book of a 13th book series, with some many loose-ends to tie and characters to reconcile, whilst giving this book and individual plotline that hypes up the 13th book sufficiently to be a fitting climax to the series. It must be a bit of a nightmare for her. The trouble is, it's starting to show.

It's not so much that this book is bad: it's very easy to read and I raced through it, always wanting to read one more chapter, and I still like Sookie's voice and personality. The problem is that it feels like Harris has run out of steam, and this book feels kind of flat and lifeless compared to others in the series. We hear a lot of the day-to-day admin of Sookie's life, which obviously isn't as exciting as when she's battling deranged werewolves, and a lot of the main characters don't actually feature; if they do, they're usually in peripheral roles that don't make the most of them or adequately express their relationships with Sookie or each other. Eric is oft mentioned but rarely seen after the actual incident, Bill has become nothingy and the fae are featured but awkwardly, I felt, and in a way that forces them centre stage when I'm not sure that's the place for them. Also, there's a big fat occurrence at the climax of the book which clearly pinpoints the way things are going to end, and it all feels a bit forced. 

It's a filler book, basically, leading us to the end of the series. Not the best, but still a good holiday read.

Title: Deadlocked: A True Blood Novel
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Gollancz 
Date: May 2012
Format: Hardback, 327 pages, and I bought it.


 
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