Fiction: “Dead as a Doornail” by Charlaine Harris

dead as a doornailSo the next two seasons of True Blood are going to be winging my way through the US Postal Service as soon as I take a break from Breaking Bad and actually finish the last three episodes of Firefly; it’s time to read the next Sookie Stackhouse mystery so I’m all caught up.

This book starts off with Sookie dealing with Jason’s first night as a werepanther. Again, if Jason does get turned into a shifter in the TV show, please don’t tell me, I’m not sure that’s a thing I want to happen. Luckily for Sookie, Jason loves turning into a panther. Apparently shifting isn’t nearly as painful as it’s made out to be on The Vampire Diaries. Okay. But then someone starts sniping shifters, and it starts right after Jason becomes one, so fingers are starting to point at Jason. So now it’s up to Sookie to help prove his innocence.

When someone shoots Sam (and luckily only wounds him, doesn’t kill him, because I like Sam and I would be sad if Sam was killed off), Sookie goes to Eric for a temporary bartender so Sam can heal. Eric sends her a pirate vampire (no, I’m serious, eyepatch and all) named Charles. And then Sookie’s house burns down, so she moves into a duplex owned by Sam temporarily, and then she gets shot, and …

This entry in the series left me a little colder than the previous. Primarily, I couldn’t feel the beats of the story. Y’know how in a mystery, there is a problem, and then there are clues, and then investigating, and then maybe after every third clue, the protagonist gets into a scrape until the confrontation, and then once the mystery’s solved, there’s a denouement? I didn’t feel that with this title. It was more of, “My name’s Sookie, and let me tell you about my brother. And then this person got shot, but I went to work because that’s what I do. And then my boss got shot, and I felt guilty for no reason whatsoever, so I asked Eric for a bartender. Then my house burned down, and while I’m sad about it, I still have to work. And then Alcide came over and he wanted me to go to this werewolf pack funeral, so I went. I don’t like that he’s involving me in pack matters, but I guess I have to go. When I got back home, I visited Jason’s new panther friend, and then I got shot.” There was no active investigating. It felt almost … rote. And not that I’m looking for this in a mystery novel, but there also wasn’t any romancing going on with Sookie.

I don’t know if it’s a slump – I hope it’s not, because I enjoy Sookie Stackhouse as written. I’m only three seasons into True Blood, and the rumors going ’round is that TV!Sookie becomes less enjoyable as the series goes on; I hope that isn’t true.

I guess, I hope that Ms. Harris has more of a concrete plot-slash-investigation in the next book. Because this felt almost … slipshod? And I’ve liked these books before; I don’t want to give them up.

There has to be something to hold them all together. Like in the J.D. Robb/Eve Dallas series: the crimes and mysteries may change, but the relationship between Eve and Roarke is constantly changing, evolving, and maturing. I didn’t feel that there was any emotional growth with the characters. There was no regression, which is great; don’t get me wrong, characters staying the same is always something I enjoy. (*cough*Kay Scarpetta*cough). But … I needed more this time. Or, I expected more, and became disappointed when there wasn’t more.

Grade for Dead as a Doornail: 1.5 stars

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