written by David Steffen
Dead as a Doornail is a romance/mystery/horror novel from 2005, the fifth in the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by Charlaine Harris (which is the basis of the HBO show True Blood). The previous books are all reviewed here earlier on the Diabolical Plots feed.
Sookie’s brother Jason, bitten by a werepanther, joins the local werepanther pack that lives in the nearby close-knit community of Hotshot (where the werepanther that bit him came from). Sam Merlotte is shot by an unseen shooter, and so is Calvin Norris the pack leader of Hotshot, and Sookie learns that other shifters have been shot all over Louisiana. Colonel Flood, leader of the Shreveport werewolf pack, is hit by a car and dies, and someone shoots Sookie as well(presumably because she associated with shifters). Although the existence of vampires is now public knowledge all over the world, shifters are still a closely kept secret, and so the common element of these shootings is not known to police, but Sookie can’t really tell them the common element either.
For someone who saw the entire True Blood series before starting any of the books, this book is remarkable in that it is the first book which doesn’t have a season of the TV series largely inspired by it. so it felt new to me in a way that the first four books in the series didn’t, and it doesn’t invite one to play the “was the TV show version or the book version better?” question.
Even so, this one felt a little bit scattered to me. While it did have a main central question of “who is killing/hurting shifters?” there is so little information to actually pursue that question through most of the book that I didn’t really feel like I was able to be very engaged trying to figure it out. There was certainly a lot going on, even besides the central shooting thing, so I never got bored, and lacking a TV comparison I didn’t know what to expect, so that was good.
Overall, it was an action-packed read, even though I wished the central mystery had more supporting clues for me to work with to try to guess the shooter, and for my own engagement it was a relief for it to take a big split from the TV show so that I could read without feeling like I’d already been through the story before.