I just finished, and by that I mean I finished it about an hour ago, Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. Deadlocked is book 12, for anyone who doesn’t already know, in Harris’ quirky tale of the telepathic waitress in the fictional small-town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. It’s also a slightly alternate world where vampires are not only real, but everyone knows they’re real, because some enterprising inventor created a synthetic substitute for blood that allowed them to come out of the coffin.
And that’s where the fun began, in 2001, with Dead Until Dark. It has been mostly fun for those of us reading the series. It has not been fun for the heroine of this little tale, that telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie’s journey has been one crisis after another. The more she has learned about the world of the supernatural, the darker and more dangerous her life has become.
Be warned, Deadlocked is book 12 in an ongoing series. I will do my best not to include spoilers for Deadlocked, but there’s no reasonable way to say much about book 12 without spoiling something in books 1-11.
Deadlocked is the perfect title for this book, because Sookie’s life is deadlocked as the story opens. Eric Northman, her vampire lover, is the vampire “sheriff” of Shreveport and the surrounding area, including Bon Temps. However, his sire promised the Queen of Oklahoma that Eric would marry her, not long before the waste of space (I can’t type something disgusting enough) was killed. On Sookie’s front lawn.
Eric, Sookie, and Pam, Eric’s second-in-command, murdered the deputy of the King of Nevada. The man who Eric owes fealty to. The fact that the bastard was trying to kill them doesn’t matter. They should pay for his death. The King is in Shreveport to collect.
Sookie’s boss, and best friend, Sam Merlotte, is a were, a shapeshifter. His current girlfriend is second-in command of the local pack. Jannalyn hates Sookie, for no reason that Sookie can understand, except that Jannalyn thinks Sam and Sookie might be more than just friends. They’re not.
Then a girl dies. On Eric’s front yard this time. In the middle of a party. Just after he drank from her. It shouldn’t have anything to do with Sookie. But it does.
Her fae grandfather left her with a gift. It grants one wish, the wish of her heart. And everyone wants it. Or want her to use it.
Or wants her to die.
Escape Rating B: Too much of the first 2/3rds of the book is setup, and a lot of that setup involves Sookie’s situation just getting more and more, I want to say pitiful but that’s not quite it, let’s say worse, by the hour. Things shouldn’t be able to sink any lower, but they just keep heading downhill.
It is pretty obvious who the responsible parties are for everything that’s going wrong in Sookie’s universe. Why Sookie can’t see it, we’ll say dramatic license. The clues were pretty obvious and the herrings were very, very bright red.
On the other hand, the last third of the book saw the loose ends being knitted together. Every person, or at least every supernatural creature, who ever crossed Sookie’s path seems to be making a final appearance, a curtain call, one way or another. The author has announced that the next book will be the last in the series.
Lucky 13. How appropriate for a book about the creatures that go bump in the night. Or considering this series, maybe hump in the night is a better phrase.
A few notes on the audiobook version, read by Johanna Parker. Because the story is told from Sookie’s perspective, Ms. Parker is primarily voicing Sookie, although she does deepen her voice or drop her accent to represent the other characters when they speak. Her narration works because she is able to make herself sound like Sookie, at least to this listener. It sounds like Sookie is telling me her perspective on events as she is witnessing them. It’s marvelous. Occasionally, you want to slap her for concentrating on the wrong things, because you’re caught up in her telling you her story.
I just wish Sookie had gotten her act together sooner. She spends way too much of the book being passive. The narrator has a good handle on voicing Sookie’s inner dialogue. It would have made a better story if Sookie had less inner dialog and more outer action the first two thirds of the book.