Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

[Although I don't reveal whodunit, this review contains spoilers.]

"The next time someone told me I had to watch a supernatural rite, I was going to tell him I had to wash my hair."

Synopsis

A sniper is shooting shifters, but since most of the world is unaware that shifters exist, only the local supes make the connection. A werefox named Heather Kinman is killed, werepanther Calvin Norris from Hotshot is seriously injured and hospitalized, and Sam is shot in the leg. Sookie is also shot because the sniper is aware that she is "different." Sookie's house is set on fire in the middle of the night, and fairy Claudine saves her life.

In between all the mayhem and no longer dating vampires, Sookie begins to explore shifters as a romantic possibility, but things don't seem to take off with Sam and Calvin, and Alcide blackmails Sookie into attending the contest to determine the new Shreveport packmaster. Even though Sookie's mindreading discovers deception on the part of packmaster contestant Patrick Furnan, he kills Alcide's father, Jackson Herveaux, and becomes packmaster, anyway.

On the vampire front, with Sam incapacitated, pirate vampire Charles Twining helps out with the bartending at Merlotte's. Tara is victimized by vampire Franklin Mott, who "gives" her to a vicious vampire named Mickey. Eric helps Sookie with Tara's situation, but in return demands that Sookie tell him what happened while he had amnesia.

Review

There is an obvious shift toward shifters in this installment, including in Sookie's love life, and that doesn't make me happy. I'll readily acknowledge that Ms. Harris's shifter universe is complex and the variety of weres is fun, but it's not what I really want to be reading.

Sookie makes out with Sam for the first time, but it doesn't go further. I do like Sam most of the time, and I've always had the feeling that Sookie might end up with him in the end, considering how close they are. Sookie spends a lot of time considering Calvin Norris as a marital possibility, mostly because he's kind, level-headed and mature and wants her so much, but she eventually decides he's just not for her. And it appears at first as if a relationship with Alcide is finally going to happen. But no.

This is the book where Alcide lost me. He figured out that Sookie killed Debbie, and decided to use that knowledge to force Sookie into a critical and dangerous situation at the packmaster contest. (Okay, I get it, Alcide's father was a contestant, but it was still a low thing for Alcide to do.) Alcide also decided that Debbie literally bewitched him, sort of a retroactive excuse for being involved with the homicidal bitch in the first place. Did Debbie in fact bewitch Alcide? I sort of don't care.

Even Sam was using Sookie, pushing her into asking Eric for help on his behalf, and even insisting that pirate vampire Charles Twining stay at her house when she desperately didn't want him there. Bad Sam, no biscuit.

Along with all the other shifter stuff, Jason becomes a "bitten not born" werepanther, and he likes it. He is still dating Crystal Norris from Hotshot, and she might be pregnant. (Jason is a suspect in the shifter shootings, of course, because Jason is always a suspect in everything.) We're introduced to a cool werewolf named Dawson, who is guarding Calvin Norris. And finally, we meet the very tall, very cool weretiger Quinn, who is master of ceremonies at the packmaster contest.

So we have way too much shifter, and not enough vampire. And for me, the best part of the book was (you guessed it) vampire-related.

Tara has been dating Franklin Mott since Club Dead. She finally discovers the down side of dating vampires when Franklin, who never really adjusted to the new ways, "gives" her to a horrendous vampire named Mickey. Eric still does not remember what happened in Dead to the World, and it's driving him nuts. When Sookie asks Eric for help with the Tara/Franklin/Mickey situation, he is thrilled to oblige so that in exchange, Sookie will have to tell him what happened while he was "out". The best scene in the book is when Sookie tells Eric in excruciating detail exactly what happened between them in book four, and he is completely thrown.

There's a tad more in the fairy department, although it's something of an afterthought. Claudine saves Sookie from the house fire and announces that she is Sookie's fairy godmother. And Claudine's twin brother Claude, a male stripper, utterly gorgeous and completely gay, joins the cast of characters.

Bits

-- Arlene, Holly and Danielle are still waitressing at Merlotte's. There is a new cook named Sweetie Des Arts. (Sweet desserts?)

-- Andy Bellefleur is dating elementary school teacher Halleigh Robinson. And Bill, who catches Sookie kissing Sam, is now dating a woman named Selah Pumphrey.

-- Sookie's insurance agent, Greg Aubert, is a witch.

-- The action takes place starting at the first full moon after the new year, shortly after the end of book four. Sookie is still 26.

-- There's a Charlaine Harris crossover! Private detectives Jack Leeds and Lily Bard from Harris's non-fantasy Lily Bard "Shakespeare" series are hired to investigate Debbie Pelt's disappearance. They stop by Merlotte's and Sookie's house to make her uncomfortable, but Sookie does not break down and confess. Although she does tell Alcide the truth.

Quotes

"Eric had told me that that little road, a dirt track leading back to a deer camp, was where Debbie Pelt had hidden her car when she'd come to kill me. Might as well put up a sign: 'Parking for Sookie Stackhouse Nighttime Attacks'."

"Pam had sent a mixed bouquet, and the card read, 'Don't get shot anymore. From the gang at Fangtasia'."

Television Series Notes

At the time of this writing, season five is in production and since I avoid series spoilers, I have no idea what we're going to get. But since the majority of the cast are vampires and the focus of the fifth book is shifters, I'm guessing that this might be the season Alan Ball decides to leave the books behind.

Of course, we saw the Tara/Franklin Mott plot back in season three. I think they combined Franklin and Mickey to some extent.

In closing...

An enjoyable read, but this one sort of felt all over the place, and of course, since it had a shifter focus and not much Eric, it's not a favorite.

My next book review will be posted in two weeks.

Important notice! After eleven books and four seasons of the series, I have no idea what kind of spoiler limitations to put on the comments section under these circumstances -- so I'm not going to put any. It's a spoiler free for all! If you're new to the books and haven't seen all of the television series True Blood, reading the comments may, and probably will, spoil you. Read on at your own risk!
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

Vero said...

I love your reviews of the books! I actually started reading the books after seeing the first season of True Blood, but so far, I've read the first 8 books and I'm not even done with season 2 of True Blood! I think I kind of prefer the books to the TV series, but I do have the intention of watching True Blood until the end. I love the character of Sookie and of course, my favorite character is also Eric.

I also felt that Dead as a Doornail was kind of all over the place, but I still enjoyed the book very much. I'm not that much bothered by the focus on the shifters over the vampires, but I did feel there were maybe too many storylines happening at the same time in this book.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to your next reviews and I'll try to be done with Dead and Gone before you post the review for book #9!

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much, Vero! If you don't quite finish it in time, the reviews will always be here. :)

CrazyCris said...

Definitely not my favourite in the series... I too thought it a bit lacking in vampires. Nowadays I really only think about the books when wondering what might make it to the screen! :p
We've obviously already had Franklin Mott, and Claudine and Calvin Norris are out of the picture as well, so things are definitely going to be VERY different. I think you're right, this might be where Alan Ball takes flight... I'm hoping we get the were-tiger though! He ends up being a major player in a couple other books!
I think for True Blood we can definitely count on having the packmaster testing, plus the private detectives looking into Debbie's disappearance, but I'd be surprised if much else made it in there!

Juliette said...

I love Sam, and I like Quinn a lot, but I agree that I'm more interested in vampires than shifters (but much more interested in either of them than fairies).

I think we'll get the shooter and packmaster contest - if I were making the TV show, I'd mix it up with elements of Book 6 or 7, neither of which can be fully adapted at this point.

I don't think we'll get to see Quinn in the TV series, or if we do, he'll be different to the point of unrecognisible. I think Alcide will fill that role, because the huge list of Sookie-love interests in the books really is ridiculous. But I could be wrong, and I'd love to see him!

Anonymous said...

I love your book reviews and your episode reviews and read them all! Just wanted you to know that I enjoy them. thank you!
donna

Billie Doux said...

That's so kind of you, Donna. Thank you!

Amy Ennis said...

I read this one a while back and I guess it had about as much impact on me as it did on you. I couldn't even remember some of the plot elements. I vaguely remember Quinn and didn't remember Alcide being deceitful at all. Guess I must have skipped over some of it to get to the good parts. As much as I love tv Alcide and was never an Eric fan, after last season, I am definitely an Eric fan now. Will probably continue to read the books as I have time but I'm with you. I love the tv shifters, but the book shifters don't do much for me.

Anonymous said...

I think this was the book where my interest started to wane. Got a bit fed up of EVERYONE having a thing for Sookie. Still reading the books, and to be fair there are still a few more after this one with actual fully realised plots. The last couple have been incredibly dull - more like Sookie writing "Dear Diary" about her day.