BOOK REVIEW: Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

written by David Steffen

Definitely Dead is a romance/mystery/horror novel from 2006, the sixth 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 heads to New Orleans to sort out of the affairs of her cousin Hadley who had been turned into a vampire and then killed.  Hadley’s apartment has been placed under a stasis spell placed on it by Hadley’s landlord, the witch Amelia Broadway.  Shortly after the spell is lifted, a newly-made vampire (the werewolf Jake Purifoy) rises within the apartment and attacks them.  Sookie’s new boyfriend, the weretiger Quinn, is also in New Orleans on business, so he helps with the investigation.  With the help of Amelia and her coven of witches they set out to discover how Jake came to be newly raised in that apartment on the same day that Hadley died.

This is where reading the book series become much more interesting to me.  Like the previous book, this one has no season of True Blood that is based upon.  But compared to the previous book I felt like this one was much less scattered.  There was a central mystery that was the main goal of the book, and the characters actively worked toward resolving it, (and there were other major plots that tied into that that I’ll let you discover for yourself).  I enjoyed the completely new characters like Amelia Broadway, and especially enjoyed her and her coven’s involvement in trying to discover the events of the night of Hadley’s death.  And, it was good to see Sookie have a new boyfriend character I wasn’t familiar with, because I didn’t know what to expect from Quinn.

The biggest issue I had with the book had more to do with series planning than about the book itself.  Each of the books in the series starts with some summary of the series and the last book specifically, which is fine, especially given that romance and mystery genre readers may be more likely to pick up a series in the middle.  But, in this case, if you’ve just been reading the books in the series, this one is likely to be confusing because among that “past story” summary Sookie talks about finding out about Hadley’s death.  But… that had never been in any of the novels, and so I spent the first several chapters wondering if I had accidentally skipped a book.  I hadn’t.  It turns out that there was a short story she had written that takes place between the two books and shows Sookie finding out about Hadley’s death and the cause of her death.  This struck me as kind of poor planning to assume one is going to have read a short story in its proper place in the novel series with no way to tell that there even was a short story.  At the very least, an editor’s note to explain what happened would have gone a long way toward alleviating confusion.

Despite that poor planning, it was easily my favorite in the series so far, a very enjoyable read.