DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris
Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 1
Sookie Stackhouse Series

Ace Fantasy - May 1, 2001
ISBN 0444008534 - Paperback
Paranormal Mystery - Vampire

Reviewed by author, Susan McBride -
  Buy a Copy

Though Charlaine Harris is best known to fans as the author of the Lily Bard “Shakespeare” series and the Aurora Teagarden books, she’s ventured into new territory with DEAD UNTIL DARK, billed as A Southern Vampire Mystery. 

The setting is a tiny town called Bon Temps, Louisiana, a stone’s throw away from Monroe and New Orleans.  The heroine is Sookie Stackhouse, a barmaid who’s not your typical girl-next-door.  For one thing, Sookie can read minds.  It’s put a bit of a crimp in her social life and tends to make her feel isolated from her friends and her footloose brother, Jason.  That is, until she meets the one man whose thoughts she can’t decipher.  His name is Bill Compton, and he happens to be a vampire.

The world Harris creates in DEAD is one where vampires have come out of the closet…albeit only at night.  The Japanese have invented a synthetic blood that allows them to mainstream amongst humans without always having to snack on someone’s neck when hunger strikes.  Of course, there are good and bad vampires, and Bill seems to be one of the nice undead guys.

Then women start to die in Bon Temps.  First there’s Maudette and then there’s Dawn, both found strangled in their beds with bite marks on their thighs.  The town wonders if Bill isn’t to blame, but Sookie stands by her vampire and does her best to find out what’s really going on. 

Harris does a wonderful job of making us believe in her story and her characters.  There are no cardboard cutouts in Bon Temps.  Some of the vampires are nasty folk and rather gruesome in their behavior, so cozy fans be prepared to read a few scenes here and there through your fingers.  I’m not a fan of vampire books, so I wasn’t sure what I’d find within the pages of DEAD UNTIL DARK, but I quickly became engrossed in Sookie and Bill’s wild ride.  The answer to whodunit did surprise me, though the rich as buttermilk writing did not.  Harris has already staked a claim on Southern charm, and that’s clearly evident here.

With her latest offering, Charlaine Harris has proven once again that she’s no ordinary talent.  DEAD UNTIL DARK is bloody great fun.  Sookie and Bill make a tantalizing odd couple.  So, if you’re a sucker for a little supernatural mystery and romance, you won’t want to miss this one. (Silver bullets and garlic not included.)

Reviews of other titles in this series

Dead Until Dark, Book 1    [review]
Dead to the World, Book 4    [review]
All Together Dead, Book 7    [review]
From Dead to Worse, Book 8   [review]
Dead and Gone, Book 9   [review]
Deadlocked, Book 12    [review]

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