Thursday, March 29, 2018

Club Dead - Charlaine Harris

   2003; 275 pages.  Book 3 (out of 13) of the “Sookie Stackhouse series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Vampires; Paranormal Thriller; Gothic Romance.  Overall Rating : 7*/10.

    The vampire Bill Compton has gone missing in action!  He’s Sookie Stackhouse’s sometimes boyfriend, sometimes lover and full-time source of anxiety and frustration, and it goes without saying that Sookie’s upset.

    Of course, the reason why she’s upset is a little complicated.  The last time he was with her, Bill told Sookie he had to do a top-secret project for the (Vampire) Queen of Louisiana.  Hush-hush, very dangerous, and if anything happens to me, please hide my computer and its hard drive.

    But it turns out that Bill isn’t in Louisiana, he disappeared while in Mississippi.  And the word on the street (okay, in the vampire bars) is that he’s being held captive by the local bloodsuckers.  Oh yeah, and those local vamps include his ex-lover, Lorena, with whom he had a long and passionate relationship.  Could it be that Bill was in the process of dumping Sookie to rekindle a relationship with Lorena?

    Now you know why Sookie’s as mad as ...well... a jilted lover.

What’s To Like...
    Club Dead is the third installment  in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, and broadens the setting a bit more.  The first two books were set in Louisiana and Texas, respectively; here Sookie is off to adventure and mayhem in Mississippi.  We get to visit a new vampire nightclub, ‘Jospehine’s’, also known as the titular ‘Club Dead’, and learn that vampire royalty: kings and queens, rule the undead territories we mortals know as our 50 states.

    The storyline has the usual structure:  Sookie goes on a quest on behalf of the vampires; she gets beat up a lot and has relationship issues with Bill; the action speeds up and the good guys, girls, and ghouls eventually kick undead ass.

    A character from Book One is back, “Bubba”, and he’s one of my favorites.  There are a bunch of Mississippi undead to meet as well.  Vampires are still the most prevalent beasties we run across, but we learn a lot more about the various shapeshifters, generically called “Weres”, of which the Werewolves are the dominant type.  We also cross paths with a goblin, and I think that's a new beast for the series.  It’s also hinted that witches will make an appearance soon.

    The vampire Eric plays a larger-than-usual role here, but most of the other Louisiana characters – the patrons and workers at Merlotte’s Bar, Sookie’s brother, and the Bon Temps locals – are limited to cameo appearances.  I enjoyed the brief nod to Samhain, and I’d still like to take at least one flight on Anubis Airlines.

    Sookie gets her first mani-pedi, as well as her first killing.  There’s some sex and lots of cussing, but that’s the norm for this series.  The ending is adequate, but not spectacular.  Instead of a tension-built climax, it felt to me like it was rushed, and then coasted along another 50 pages or so afterward.  A major thread remained unresolved (Bill’s mission for the vampire queen of Louisiana) although this could also be him BS-ing Sookie.  Either way, the main plotline, Bill’s abduction, is tied up completely, and Club Dead is both a standalone tale, as well as part of a series.

Kewlest New Word…
Virago (n.) : a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.

    “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” I told myself.  That had been Gran’s favorite Bible quotation.  When I was about nine, I’d asked her to explain that to me, and she’d said, “Don’t go looking for trouble; it’s already looking for you.”  (loc. 2655)

   “Did this Alcide kill him?”  Bill looked down at me, reconsidered.  “Or Sookie?”
    “He says no.  They found the corpse in the closet of Alcide’s apartment, and they hatched a plan to hide his remains.”  Eric sounded like that had been kind of cute of us.
    “My Sookie hid a corpse?”
    “I don’t think you can be too sure about that possessive pronoun.”
     “Where did you learn that term, Northman?”
    “I took ‘English as a Second Language’ at a community college in the seventies.”   (loc. 3332)

Kindle Details...
    Club Dead sells for $7.99 at Amazon.  The rest of the books in the 13-volume series also go for $7.99, except for Book 1, Dead Until Dark, which is only $2.99.  Charlaine Harris has several other series started, and their books range in price from $2.99 to $13.99.

 “This Blood’s For You.”  (loc. 440)
    I had some quibbles.  For me, the book started out slow, although in fairness, that may have been a necessary evil as Charlaine Harris introduces a slew of the recurring characters to any reader that might be making Club Dead their first book in the series.  However, since most of these meet-&-greets play no part in the story, this was just lag time for me.  Even the Book Two baddies, the Brotherhood of the Sun, appear briefly later on, presumably for the same reason.   Still, once the introductions are over, around a quarter of the way through the book, the pace picks up nicely, and its lots of thrills and kills thereafter.

   A more significant problem was the storyline as a whole, which felt disjointed to me.  It was never really made clear (at least to me) why Bill was kidnapped.  Nor, as already mentioned, was it clear whether he was actually on a secret mission for the queen.  Busting Bill out of captivity seemed way too easy, and the subsequent “chase” seemed contrived and way too speedily put into action by the baddies.  All in all, the whole storyline felt formulaic.

    True, Bill has a computer program that would be useful to all sorts of factions.  But is it worth engaging in kidnapping and torturing, and risking a war with various other undead for?  It didn’t seem so to me.

    Maybe the author had a deadline to meet, or maybe my brain was just too tired or dense to see the answers to my quibbles.  I've read the first three books in this series, all in the past six months.  Maybe I'm a tad bit burnt out on it.

    7 Stars.  Add 1 star if this is your first Sookie Stackhouse book.  You'll find it a fascinating series.

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