Tidying up the to be read bookcase, I noticed the pulp shelf is the only one overflowing. It has a stack of books in front of the actual shelved books. This is in part because the Chap got me some more Sookie Stackhouse novels for my birthday.
Sookie, a telepathic waitress, and Bill, her vampire lover, investigate both the death of someone in Bon Temps and a missing vampire case in Dallas.
This is where the books really start to diverge from the TV series. A popular character from the TV series is killed in the first chapter here, and the detective element of the books really takes off. Sookie and Bill are paid for their work in Dallas, rather than being a loan by Eric to another vampire clan. And Eric…well, Eric is a much more entertaining vampire elder here. Asked by Sookie to act as her bodyguard at an orgy in the woods, he revels in the role she’s assigned him.
Naturally, part of the fun reading vampire romances is that the good human girl is drawn to the vampire. It’s Buffy and Angel, Bella and Edward etc etc. What’s delightful about the Sookie Stackhouse books is that while Sookie is drawn to Bill he’s just not that, well, romantic. His attraction lies in being a vampire – otherwise he’s the kind of sensible, serious man who would bore you for an hour about the siege of Stalingrad. In contrast, Eric is every stereotype of a vampire: ancient, witty, powerful, sexy and simply a bad, bad thing.
By basing the plot around the two mysteries, Harris plays up the similarities and differences between human and vampire societies. No-one really cares about the dead person dumped in the Sheriff’s car, but the Dallas vampires are so desperate to discover what has happened to one of theirs that they will work with the human Sookie. And throughout the novel, it is the humans who do terrible things not the supernatural creatures and Sookie has to realise the world is not as black and white as she thought.
New elements are introduced that I hope will be picked up in subsequent books: Tara, who runs a clothes shop; the first suggestion of a shapeshifter society to match the vampire one; the first appearance of another telepath.
Like the best pulp fiction, I raced through Living Dead in Dallas because it’s working to the template of its genres. And mixing up romance, gothic and detective fiction is great fun.