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Charlaine Harris – Dead Reckoning

July 27, 2011

94. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (2011)
Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 11

Read my review of book:
1. Dead Until Dark
2. Living Dead in Dallas
3. Club Dead
4. Dead to the World
5. Dead as a Doornail
6. Definitely Dead
7. All Together Dead
8. From Dead to Worse
9. Dead and Gone
10. Dead in the Family
Short Stories. A Touch of Dead

Length: 326 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance

Started: 16 July 2011
Finished: 17 July 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Even though I’m getting my fix from the new season of True Blood, I’m still addicted.

Family secrets can
accumulate much faster
when your family’s fae.

Summary: When someone tosses a Molotov cocktail through the window at Merlotte’s, police think it’s more anti-shifter backlash, but Sookie caught a glimpse of the attacker through the window, and she thinks it’s something different: another shifter. But investigations on that front will have to wait, since recent vampire political tensions are starting to come to a head. Her vampire sort-of husband, Eric Northman, is chafing under the rule of the new regent of Louisiana, and his bond with Sookie means that she’s in danger should any of his plans go awry. Meanwhile, she also has to deal with two of her fairy kinfolk that have moved into her house, and what they know about who – and what – she is… and how she got to be that way.

Review: This series has drifted a fair way from where it started, and I can’t yet tell whether I approved of the change. The series is called the Southern Vampire Mysteries, and while Dead Reckoning is still southern, and certainly contains vampires, its only mystery is “who’s trying to kill Sookie this time?”, and none of the characters – Sookie included – spend very much time thinking about it. (Although at one point Sookie asks “How many enemies can I have at one time?” and I almost died laughing. Girl, please. Do you even read your own books?)

As a result, this book is spent about half on the vampire politics – although it’s less political maneuvering and more power-hungry infighting, which was actually a relief after Dead in the Family‘s interminable expository lectures on the subject – and half on Sookie discovering her fairy heritage. The former provides most of the action, although there were also some nicely emotional bits involving Eric and Sookie’s relationship; the later provides some answers that put an interesting new spin on some of the characters and their motivations, and for a refreshing change, didn’t leave me going “…really?” at the explanation.

The writing’s also improved since the early books. It’s never going to be high literature, obviously, but the prose felt smoother, with less awkward descriptions and interjections. There were still a few cringeworthy parts, including some notably out-of-character lines from several parties… and if I never have to hear a character refer to their ladyparts as “my yahoo palace” again (…really?), it will be too soon.

But, y’know, these books are escapist guilty pleasure reading. As long as they’re entertaining and can hold my attention, that’s about all I can ask for. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: No point in recommending this one; the only people who are going to read it are fans of the series, but I think it’s got enough meat to it that they’ll eat it up.

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First Line: The attic had been kept locked until the day after my grandmother died.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 317: “I washed the epergne and a couple of cut-glass bowls.” – an ornamental piece for the center of a table, for holding fruit, flowers, etc.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 11:04 am

    I think the big problem with long book series is that the books start to get a little too far fetched.

    • August 1, 2011 10:18 am

      carolina – And considering that these books *started* with a bunch of vampires, a telepathic waitress, and a shapeshifting bar owner, that’s saying something. :)

  2. July 27, 2011 11:35 am

    I need to give this series another try.

    • August 1, 2011 10:20 am

      Kathy – If the first book (books?) didn’t work for you, I wouldn’t sweat it. They’re fun, but they’re not Required Reading, and they’re certainly not for everybody.

  3. July 27, 2011 8:06 pm

    These books make me feel like I’ve been under a rock. I had never even heard of them until I started working at the library, at which point I discovered that they’re so popular we can’t seem to keep them on the shelves! Guess I should give one of them a try!

    • August 1, 2011 10:22 am

      Emily – They’re great guilty-pleasure light reads, perfect for when my brain can’t handle anything too serious. I hope you have fun with them!

      Also, I think this is a case where the TV version might actually be better than the books; it takes the cool world and characters that Harris created, and adds some depth and complexity that’s sometimes missing from the books.

  4. July 29, 2011 8:16 pm

    I’m interested to hear you say that you think the quality of the writing has improved; I’ve just re-read the first two volumes, thanks to an addicted friend’s encouragement, and have finished numbers three and four too. I don’t think I’d be enjoying them half as much if Alan Ball’s series hadn’t added so much to the characterization, but I am having enough fun with them to find my gaze drifting to volume five, even when there are other books I’m planning to read first.

    • August 1, 2011 10:24 am

      BiP – “Improved” is relative; they’re still not high literature or anything. But I re-read book 4 recently (before season 4 started), and going from that to this newest one, it definitely seemed like the prose had gotten a little cleaner, with fewer of the narrative tics and quirks that got on my nerves.

  5. August 2, 2011 4:35 pm

    I recently read the first three (in a bundle for Kindle) and did enjoy them. I think I rather liked Sookie’s narrative voice, and she just seemed rather sweet and vulnerable. And her frustrations with Bill were realistic, too, after the rapturous beginning. I don’t know that I’ll get through all of the series, though.

    • August 2, 2011 5:40 pm

      Ela – I hear you on not reading all eleventy million books, although I do like having a go-to series that I know will be at least entertaining and breezy.

      I am going to encourage you to read at least the next book in the series, though… book 4’s my favorite, and it’s definitely worth reading, especially if you are pro-Eric Northman. :)

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