Charlaine Harris – Dead As A Doornail – Book review

The fifth book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries set, Dead As A Doornail sees [[Sookie Stackhouse]] even more drawn to the supernatural world. This time, however, she’s more concerned with the werewolf and shifter communities than the boring old vampires.

Why are the shapeshifters so important? Well, a lone gunman is sniping shots at shifters. Calvin Norris has been shot, somebody else has been killed. Even Sam Merlotte is put out of action when he gets shot in the leg. Just to up the stakes, Sookie discovers that her brother may be the prime suspect, since he recently became a ‘bitten’ were-panther. That’s right, dumb old Jason Stackhouse has become a half-were. And the worryingly inbred little community in Hotshot think it’s him, taking revenge for having been bitten by one of them in the first place. It’s a good theory, but incorrect. Jason loves being a shifter.

At the same time, Sookie’s promising relationship with Alcide Herveaux starts to fray when he reveals he knew she killed Debbie Pelt. He makes matters worse when he tries to use her telepathy to help his father gain leadership of the Shreveport werewolf pack. Though she helps out, and does indeed detect foul play on the part of the opponents, she feels much maligned and the relationship is tainted. Never mind though, because another contender makes himself known in this book – Quinn the Weretiger. He’s an official at the leadership contest, but he arouses Sookie’s interest when he licks her bleeding leg at the contest.

This will be the book in the series where most people claim Sookie’s attractiveness to supernaturals becomes ridiculous. I see that, but I choose to ignore it. You’ve got Quinn, Alcide and Calvin Norris doing his freaky old were hoping to settle down with a female who’s clearly out of his league. On the vampire side, Eric’s clearly feeling conflicted toward Sookie following their brief amnesiac affair in the last book. And Bill Compton’s still sniffing around, but he hasn’t got a hope of winning Sookie back considering the competition. I do wish Harris would find a way to write him out though.

Yes, the Sookie Stackhouse stories take a distinctively crazy turn here. The story does become very soap opera and unrealistic this time round. I’ve mentioned this before on this site, but I feel that’s okay for the books. At the same time, I’m happy to suspend my disbelief on the more outlandish story elements, because the [[Charlaine Harris]] books are always great fun. It’s a story about werewolves and vampires and a waitress who’s a telepath. What’s not to like?

At the same time, I loved that Harris brought more danger to Sookie’s door – her kitchen being burned down, her brother suspected of shooting weres and even Sam being shot at while standing beside her.

The new relatively new characters from Hotshot – Calvin Norris and Crystal – are an interesting introduction to the series. Calvin, who sees himself as a potential suitor for Sookie and Crystal who has a whirlwind relationship with Jason. Though with their rather different approach to relationships in that little town, it’s like an episode of Big Love out in the sticks.

It was also enjoyable to watch that scene where Andy Bellefleur realises how deep the supernatural community is, in the shoot-out in the alleyway. It’s always fun when regular characters have their eyes opened to the danger and lure of the supernatural world.

Oh, and I only discovered by way of this review on Love Vampires, that the private investigators hired by Debbie Pelt’s family were actually the lead characters in Charlaine Harris’ Lily Bard series:

My only gripe about this story was the author recycling of two characters from her previous books.  The private detectives (Lily and Jack) that question Sookie about the disappearance of Alcide’s ex-girlfriend are the central characters from Charlaine Harris’s Shakespeare novels.  There were no vampires in the Shakespeare books because these books are a crime/mystery series and are not in the fantasy genre.  Lily and Jack seem lost and out of place in Sookie’s world.

Luckily, only rabid Harris fans will have worked that part out! Fyrefly reviews the book, but complains about the number of lingering, unresolved love interests that Sookie has accumulated. It’s a situation that Harris seems to resolve in a later book by revealing that Sookie has supernatural ancestry herself, which attracts vampires, werewolves, etc to her.

On that tip, I’m also starting to get a little bit tired of the constant addition of new romantic interests and storylines, without any resolutions of the previous ones. Sookie seems to be collecting hot supernatural men who are obsessed with getting into her pants at the rate of about one per book, and while I am okay with authors leaving some tangly unresolved emotional threads hanging from book to book, doing so with five (soon to be six) guys at once is getting to be a little excessive.

As with all the books in the series, I found Dead As A Doornail a fine addition to the series. But, with the added insight of having read the later books in the series, it’s definitely not on a par with the likes of Dead In The Family and Dead And Gone for drama and pure tension.

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