A lot is familiar here, having read the first two books. The writing is better but still full of awkward moments. I suspect Harris started following some new writing advice, such as mapping out her locations before writing about them (in too much detail; "I walked into a 100 square foot room with a window in the wall in front of me, a door in the center of the right wall that lead into a hallway that lead into a bedroom which also had a window, and a broom closet on the left wall. I then left and never came back"), and buying a word-a-day calendar (which she cleverly gives to Sookie as an excuse for the sudden appearance of big words). Vampire Bill is still up to his delightful rapist ways, and adds a few other unforgivable wrongs on top of that (which are quickly forgiven). But this time he's joined by a whole cast of loveable sexual predators.
Oh, and maybe I'm beating a dead horse here (LOLvampirehorse), but Sookie's extreme shallowness also makes a return. Seriously, she's about to go on dangerous mission with dangerous people, her life in jeopardy, and the first thing she thinks of is what to do with her hair. The world conspires to conform to her bizzarre superficial wishes, and the whole next chapter is spent describing her getting a surprise makeover. Let me reiterate: in this book full of vampires and werewolves and telepaths, a whole chapter is devoted to a fucking makeover.
As the hero of the novels, Sookie doesn't really do many heroic things. For example, here is the complete Sookie Stackhouse Manual for How to be a Detective:
- Get your hair done. Find a cute outfit.
- Show up somewhere where there may or may not be stuff relevant to the case.
- Get seriously injured.
- Get saved by a supernatural creature.
- Wake up in the right place at the right time to witness the mystery's solution.
But there are a lot of good reasons to read the book anyway. For the first time, I felt there were actually some compelling mysteries, with answers that made sense but weren't completely obvious. Also, that really dumb character I alluded to in my review for Dead Until Dark makes a significant reappearance, but this time doesn't seem so out of place, and his silliness does add some comic relief.
All in all, I give Club Dead the same recommendation I did the other two books: read it for cheap thrills and nothing more.