BOOK REVIEW: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

written by David Steffen

Club Dead is a romance/mystery/horror novel from 2003, the third in the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by Charlaine Harris, which is the basis of the HBO show True Blood–this book was used very loosely as the basis for season 3 of the show.  The first book in the series is Dead Until Dark, (reviewed here), and the second book was Living Dead in Dallas (reviewed here).

Sookie’s vampire boyfriend Bill has been working on a project to the point of nearly total distraction.  Now he has disappeared under mysterious circumstances and Sookie sets out to find out what happened to him. The clues lead to Jackson, Mississippi where it appears that Bill’s former lover and maker Lorena has summoned him (maker as in the one who turned him into a vampire).  Clues seem to indicate that he is being held there against his will and their first stop is “Club Dead” the nickname for a major hangout for the supernatural in Jackson.  Sookie enlists the help of Bill’s boss and local authority in the vampire hierarchy Eric Northman and newfound ally the werewolf Alcide Herveaux.

After being pretty disappointed overall by the previous book, I was happy that this one was much more satisfying.  It still tends to suffer in comparison to the TV show, IMO, but this one differed from the TV show in enough ways to keep things more fresh which made it easier to keep interest (Since there are more books than seasons of the show I’m hoping that some of the books will be entirely new so that I can view those books at least with fresh eyes).

There was plenty new here to keep me interested, from Bill’s secret project, to how the attempt to break Bill out of Russell’s compound, and it kept me reading to the end.

The main thing that paled in comparison to the book was that Lorena, while playing a pivotal role in drawing Bill to Mississippi, was barely onscreen and we never got to learn much of their backstory together.  That backstory is explored in much greater depth in the TV show during this season, through flashbacks from the point of view of Bill.  The novels stick strictly to the point of view of Sookie, which misses a lot of opportunity for finding out more about the lives of other characters and this was one case where that was especially true.  If you like the books, I would highly recommend you check out the TV show to dive much much deeper into the backstory of secondary characters.

All the books are quick reads, and I can burn through them much faster than I can most novels.  They do have a tendency to over-summarize the events of past books, which might be helpful if I were reading them at the rate they were published or if  I was jumping randomly into the middle of the series. But I think that might be an expectation of the mystery and/or romance genre readers, so that the books are easy to pick up in any order, so it may be an effect of the marketplace rather than the writing.

Overall, I was happy that this one was much better than the previous book, lots of action and mystery to keep things going, as well as a new potential romance element with Alcide.  Looking forward to where the TV show and books seperate from each other entirely, so that I can just focus on the happenings of the book without mentally comparing every element to the TV show.


Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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