Monday, August 16, 2010

Living Dead in Dallas (Book 2)

Living Dead in Dallas: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris

One of my favorites is Living Dead in Dallas, the second book in the series and -- since I do my best not to re-read Dead Until Dark besides sporadically doing some ‘research’ -- it’s where the Sookie Stackhouse series begin for me.

As the book title and cover suggests -- it being the main plot line -- Sookie takes a business trip to Dallas where the Texas vampires are waiting for her, hoping that through her telepathy they could locate one of their nest’s brothers, Farrell.

Here, she meets her first other telepath, she wears a thong leaving Bill stupidly shocked (170+ years and he has a hard time recognizing a thong? Really?), she puts on her agent 007 cap and finds a tiny bug under a desk, she infiltrates the Fellowship of the Sun Dallas’ HQ, she rides around blindfolded with werewolves, AND she also attends a party (along with Bill and Eric) that turns into a bloodbath. Actually, make that two parties, one of mostly vamps, and the other mostly humans plus a maenad.

Note: Never invite Bill to your party so that the trio’s bad luck doesn’t get your guests killed. Don't believe me? Advance to book 7, All Together Dead. See? =) Madness. 

However, Sookie doesn’t even know she’s leaving town yet before trouble arises. Spoilers Ahead...who has not read this book?

This is how it starts.

Charlaine Harris set two lower rank story-lines in Louisiana. The first one to be presented, yet poorly emphasized, is Bill and the Bellefleur family. CH starts throwing pointers about the connection/discordance (a big word for me =p) between the two from the very beginning, but no one paid attention. On pages 3-4, Bill comments to a very drunk Andy:
“You’re not bad for a Bellefleur.”

I don’t remember noticing this on my first read (not until it was later mentioned by Eric), especially since this was put all the way to the back when, the next morning, Sookie finds a naked, dead body inside Andy’s abandoned Buick (left unlocked the night before in the parking lot of Merlotte’s).

Lafayette’s murder is the first event that could later be tied to the maenad -- this being the second story-line. Because of this, the reputation, and resilience, of the some of the town folks is put to the test; Tara (Sookie's childhood best friend), Andy, and Portia, specifically.

When the night finally arrived, Sookie ran home to get ready, as she and Bill were scheduled at Fangtasia. While changing and on the drive to Shreveport, Sookie tries to show her independence by combing her hair into a ponytail instead of letting it loose--something about Bill having a Britney Spear fantasy *huge eye-roll here*; by yelling at him for considering her and giving her privileges in the stores he just bought (invested in, whatever); and, to further prove she is not a kept woman, she walks out of the car and into the woods to ‘teach him a lesson’. Smart, very smart.

Bill, too, had his own ways of teaching, and by that I mean he left her to wander off as he went to find an available mechanic to fix the car. It didn't take long for Sookie to notice something running in the woods parallel to her.

Sookie, the maenad’s bulletin-board.

The same night of the murder, the maenad Callisto, not Maryann (there’s one Marianne mentioned in this book, and it was an old Sookie’s old classmate who hooked up with Dennis on the school trip to Dallas’ Six Flags), would attack Sookie as a message for Eric Northman.

I think it was very interesting and amusing how Sookie reacted to the maenad's first appearance; openly challenging the unknown creature to eat her already if that was her intention. However, the gruesome wound she left, as she clawed at Sookie’s back, and the pain and healing process described afterward is not pleasant, at all. The only upside to this is the fact that Eric winks at her and praises her voluptuous body.

Finally, after a nice shower -- her hoohaa wrapped in Pam’s white lacey panties, and her upper torso (read breasts) covered in Eric’s big white shirt -- the Dallas situation is discussed. In other words, Sookie gets rented out to the Dallas Area 6 vamps, not even getting paid directly, but through Bill (add more of the ‘I’m a woman hear me roar’ insecurities).

She goes to work to both tell Sam she was going to take a ‘vacation’ and to warn him about the maenad prowling the woods. To the last one he laughed in her face up until she showed him the scars. The scars he decided to kiss. Then he simply took her in his arms, and Sookie’s random make out sessions with Sam started here, (though I think their first peck was in DUD). I never understood it, I don’t want to get it now, and it’s one of the things we see every few books as a recurring event.

The flying coffin arrives in Dallas.

They didn’t actually fly on a coffin (although Bill was safely tucked in one), but it was darn close since the selected airline works for the undead specifically: Anubis. The over-the-top staff rules/manners for when a vampire steps out of the coffin, let a false priest get close enough to Sookie who tried to snatch her. Thanks to it being so close to sunset, Bill rose and the un-shaven priest ran off.

The first Dallas vampire we meet at the Silent Shore Hotels is Isabelle, who very politely -- and frighteningly -- lets them settle down in their rooms, long enough for Bill to be the big jerk he truly is and shove Sookie into the bedroom while he feeds on a fangbanger. . . . and then they accept Isabelle's ride to Stan's house.

One of my favorite things about this book, is that Sookie gets to use her telepathy a lot, and that we also learn just how talented she is, especially when someone's telepathy is there for comparison: Barry Horowitz, the bellboy. Stan Davis, the owner of the Bat's Wings bar and leader of Area 6 (info not disclosed to Sookie), makes her read the minds of the bar employees which was the last place Farrell (the missing nest brother) was seen.

In order to collect more information, Sookie and Hugo (Isabelle's boyfriend/pet/boy-toy/whatevs) infiltrate the Fellowship of the Sun headquarters in Dallas, directed by Steve and Sarah Newlin, and one Polly Blythe. Little did she know it was a trap, one that would lead her to a near rape (great fighting scene, both physically and her mental struggle) and to convince an ancient teenage vamp to help her escape: Godfrey.

Now, I know there's a lot of people out there with a crush on this blond, thousand-plus years old suicidal pedophile -- mostly due to True Blood's raven Godric -- but I don't share the love, nor do I hate him. Meh. Perhaps you would like to comment on why he is so swoon worthy *wink*.

Escaping the FotS with a bat.

So the rapist is defeated (dead actually), we know where the missing vamp is, all we need to do is get the hell out of the church and call in the troops, the vampires of Dallas. While Godfrey is distracting the villains, Sookie finds a way to telepathically -- indirectly through Barry -- communicate with Bill, and stumbles into the only being for miles willing to help her: Luna Garza, were-bat. She might not have been a fierce shapeshifter, but her spirit sure was.

Even though they made it outside the building, once in the parking lot, all buckled up in Luna's car, all the exits were blocked. They had no choice but to floor it, going over the lawn, at which Sookie decided it was a good enough moment to go around yelling "Yee-hah!". Still, they were chased by Sarah and Polly, who eventually hit them hard enough to send the vehicle rolling. Again, once the paramedics showed up, Sookie decided that while hanging upside down was her best opportunity to flirt with Salazar. Seriously Sookie?

Thankfully, they were rushed to the E.R. (away from the zealots) where Luna's contacts made a quick check-up on Sookie's all-too-battered-and-bruised self (half or more from before the car accident), and arranged for werewolves (Sookie's very firsts) to escort her back to the Hotel.

Q: Eric, friend or foe?

That is the question, as the one to wait for Sookie by the lobby was no other than the gorgeous viking vampire sheriff of Area 5.

This is the Eric I fell in love with! While Sookie whines about how awfully close to a bird’s nest her hair looks like, Eric compliments her on her adventure with the weres, rings Bill to growl at him, promise to care for her, and holds Sookie to his pristine, over the top expensive shirt, moved by her tears. A tough guy, with a tender heart.

Eric tends to her injuries, and Sookie waits for Bill to get back to recount the events of the night. Eric leaves, but not before taking a few well-intentioned licks of her blood, and it’s all intoxicated with her taste. Sookie whines some more about her hair until Bill gives in and washes it for her before tucking her in bed.

I think Sookie had some sort of premonition or something here, because despite being utterly spent from the different beatings she got that night, she found herself awake just before dawn and decided to go look for Godfrey. Yes, she cried when he ‘met the sun.’ Again, Meh.

Bill, like the creeper he is, wakes her up sucking on her nipples. I don’t remember if they had sex or not, just that afterward they went to Stan Davis's house again. They checked on Hugo and Isabelle who were being punished: chained to a wall opposite each other, naked.

Then the party (Farrell's welcome back party).

So while Bill mingled with the undead, abandoning an all bruised up Sookie in a lonely sofa, Eric takes the opportunity to let us know just how bad we have it for him already. Sookie doesn’t get the hint, she’s all “like a fungus?”

All went to hell when Sookie telepathically spotted the FotS lurking outside ready to blast the place down. She yells for them (vamps) to “Hit the floor!” and the ever-opportunistic Eric lays on top of her for her benefit. There’s some wiggling too. :) Who wants to suck on Eric’s shoulder (arm? collarbone? IdK)??!! I DO!! Sookie wasn’t that excited, but she did it anyway, since according to Eric if she didn’t he would die or something.

Blah blah blah blah
S: Bill where are you?!
blah blah blah
B: Sucking some FotS’ neck!
blah blah blah
S: How could you! We are through! *sniffs, and runs for the airport*
blah blah blah
B: *munching on some neck* Sookeh who?

Back to Bon Temps: less Bill, more Eric, + a mad woman

I think a week or something like that went by since their abrupt-out-of-the-blue-childish-breakup (I was happy for it). Sookie was sad, and so she went to this football game and exchanged kisses with hot-but-dumb J.B. du R. Also, Bill is dating Portia. WTF.

As embarrassed as I am to admit this, Sookie and Bill’s make up sex after the game was really hot. He was all caveman, true, ripping, biting, fucking, but it was hot nonetheless.

Again Bill leaves to settled something with Stan. Sookie gets invited to an orgy. She decides it’s her best shot at finding who killed Lafayette (Oh yeah, the cook we never met who died, Andy’s car... Right.) But, smartly, she doesn’t want to go alone and invites Eric!

I love love love love the phone conversation, starting with Pam.
"He is enthralling the vermin," Pam said. I took that to mean Eric was sprawling in a chair on the main floor of the bar, looking gorgeous and dangerous.
"I am here," Eric said.
"And I am here." I was a little amused at Eric's phone answering technique.
"Sookie, my little bullet-sucker," he said, sounding fond and warm.
"Eric, my big bullshitter."
"You want something, my darling?"
"I'm not your darling, and you know it, for one thing. For another—Bill said you were coming over here tomorrow night?"
Eric’s spandex outfit. GOLD!

Tonight, he wore a pink tank top and Lycra leggings. I don't know where he got them; I didn't know any company made Lycra leggings in Men's X-tra Large Tall. They were pink and aqua, like the swirls down the sides of Jason's truck.

And then I love their little banter while getting ready:
"Hey, our hair's the same color," I said, eyeing us side by side in the mirror.
"Sure is, girlfriend." Eric grinned at me. "But are you blond all the way down?"
"Don't you wish you knew?"
"Yes," he said simply.
"Well, you'll just have to wonder."
"I am," he said. "Blond everywhere."
"I could tell as much from your chest hair."
He raised my arm to check my armpit. "You silly women, shaving your body hair," he said, dropping my arm.

Their conversation on the way:
"You trust me?" Eric sounded surprised.
"That's . . . crazy, Sookie."
"I don't think so."
greenlemons wrote this on her tumblr: “This was a defining moment in their relationship that happened in book two.”

At the orgy, there’s all kind of nasty things happening with both old and young, attractive and butt-ugly members of the Bon Temps community. Sookies makes out with Eric for the second time that night (yuppy!) while being groped by Eggs. She listens in to their brains, and, aside from all the dirty thoughts, she manages to pick up on the gruesome death of Layafette. Grossed out she runs out with Eric in tow.

Okay, so picture this. A starry night sky. A sexy viking vampire in spandex. A red Corvette. You lying on top of said Corvette wearing some caterpillar shorts and a lacey blue bra (less pretend it looks sexy, okay?). Said vampire --better-- Eric Northman pinning you to the hood with his hips, his blue eyes fixed hungrily on you, and all he asks of you is: "Yield to me."

What do you do? I would fucking faint. Sookie? Oh no, she finds the will power to talk about Bill, who, of course, happened to be in the neighborhood. How did he know where to go looking for her, no buddy knows. (Wait, he forced at least 3 pints of his GPS-vampire-blood on Sookie back in DUD. Right.) Bill does not confront Eric. No. Like the gentleman he is, he confronts Sookie, who got tired of his “You smell like Eric” comments and told him off:
"Yeah, uh-huh, and I can't even tell what you smell like! For all I know you've been with six women! Hardly fair, is it?"

So. . . Andy shows up mad drunk and wants to use Sookie to find out who did it. Holds her by the neck like a puppy while threatening to shoot the vamps with silver bullets. By this point everyone is gathered on the deck and, surprised!, the maenad appears with a horny collie named Dean trailing behind her. Callisto assists Andy in his quest, by which I mean, she made a slurpy out of them all (except Tara, the vamps, Sookie and Eggs).

I really liked the reaction Sookie had with the madness, how attuned she was/is with other people’s emotions. This almost drove her to madness, but thanks to being smushed between vamps, biting down on Eric’s hand, and dog-like Sam pressed to her legs, she made it.

Bill's Family Bible

Right, so the next day Bill finally opens the family bible, with the names of his descendants. What prompted him to this? I'm not sure. Maybe Portia mentioned something that piqued his curiosity in one of their "dates." What we do learn is that the Bellefleurs are Bill's living heir, and Sookie tells him they need money in between bites of Caroline Bellefleurs' pecan pie.

HEA! ~~ until chapter 1 of the next book in the series. >:D

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