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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The high-school vampire novels I read last week were but mere hors d’oevres in preparation for this – the main course.

The Sookie Stackhouse novels have been given the HBO treatment by Alan ‘Six Feel Under‘ Ball, and are currently on our screens as True Blood, but before I watch the TV series (I’ve recorded initial episodes) I wanted to read the first book…

Pretty Sookie Stackhouse waits tables at Merlottes, a bar in Bon Temps, deep in the heart of Louisiana. The locals think she’s slightly crazy – but they don’t know that Sookie is a telepath and can hear everyone’s thoughts – to stop herself going mad she has to concentrate to keep her guard up. She lives quietly with her Gran, boyfriends being difficult with her knowing everything they are thinking!

Since the invention of synthetic blood, vampires have come out into the mainstream but one has never been to Merlottes, until Bill. Unfortunately he sits next to the wrong people who are after his blood – it’s worth $200 a phial, and they lure him out to the woods beyond the carpark where they tether him with silver and start to drain him – until Sookie intervenes. She saves Bill, and it’s fair to say it’s love at first sight for both of them – particularly as Sookie can’t hear Bill’s thoughts. Bill now owns the old house across the way from Sookie’s Gran. He’s one of the few who wants to intregrate into a community – to live quietly, and only drinking synthetic blood. He was made a vampire during the civil war and is tired of living on the edge.

The only problem is that as soon as Bill appears, murders start happening. They’re all good-time girls who have a bit of a reputation as ‘fang-bangers’. Suspicion is automatically on all the vampires in the region, but Sookie’s brother Jason also knew the murdered girls. Sookie decides to use her powers to help solve the crimes. The wider vampire network is a dangerous place and there is a serial killer somewhere out there in this close-knit community that must be caught.

A kooky heroine and vampires combined with a top-notch crime novel set in America’s Deep South is a winning combination – I absolutely loved it! Sookie is sparky and resourceful, yet has been waiting for someone to love; Bill wants to be normal and to be taken at face value – he is a good and chivalrous vampire and Sookie awakens his protective instincts. This book is immense fun, it’s sexy and intense with thrills aplenty. Volume two, Living Dead in Dallas is already in my reading pile. (10/10)

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