Club Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine HarrisClub Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

byCharlaine Harris

Mass Market Paperback | April 29, 2003

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Bon Temps’s psychic waitress takes a dangerous road trip in the third novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series...
 
There’s only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with (at least voluntarily) and it’s Bill Compton. But recently he’s been a little distant—in another state, distant. Then his sinister and sexy boss Eric Northman tells Sookie where she might find him. Next thing she knows, she’s off to Jackson, Mississippi, to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead, a dangerous little haunt where the elite of vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some Type-O. But when Sookie finally finds Bill—caught in an act of serious betrayal—she’s not sure whether to save him...or sharpen some stakes.
Charlaine Harris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas, fantasy/mystery series and the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series. Her books have inspired HBO’s True Blood, NBC’s Midnight, Texas, and the Aurora Teagarden movies for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She ...
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Title:Club Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackPublished:April 29, 2003Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0441010512

ISBN - 13:9780441010516

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good I continued to read this series because I enjoyed the first book and wanted to see what would happen to Sookie and the other characters. After a few books though I was skimming a lot and the plots just started to become boring and over-dramatized.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I'm hooked Just can't stop reading this series!
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story Another really good story in the Sookie Stackhouse series with a twist regarding Bill. It was hard to tell what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed this one!
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Club Dead I absolutely love this series and the mysteries involved with each book.
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love it! I read the complete sookie stackhouse serie, really love this one!
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So good! This series continues to get better and better!!
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! Amazing series so far. My only problem with them is that they're so short. I can not wait to read the rest of the series.
Date published: 2015-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read I may be well into my twenties but I still love my supernatural books! I am definitely enjoying this series!
Date published: 2015-06-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Only 85%?! Just a heads up, only 85% of this book is the actual book. The rest is the same preview of the author's other book unrelated to the Sookie Stackhouse series that is in the back of the first two books. :(
Date published: 2015-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Club Dead I have read all three novel in 4 days andth I have read all three novels in 4 days I guess that tells it all coudn't put the books down
Date published: 2014-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Club Dead A 3.5. The book was entertaining and I enjoyed the steamy scene between Sookie and Eric.
Date published: 2013-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun! 3 'men' and a lady.. what more to ask for! Supernatural rollercoaster ride. Definitely reading ALL the books. :)
Date published: 2013-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hahaha!!!! Never gets old, I love the inner dialogue, because it reminds me of me!
Date published: 2013-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Candy for the brain Once again, Harris has continued to improve from one book to the next, thought it still has its flaws. The story starts a little slow, and gets monotonous at times, but it picks up toward the end, making the overall book pretty enjoyable.
Date published: 2012-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from fun fluff read This is the third installment of Sookie Stackhouse. Bill, her vampire boyfriend, leaves to go on a business trip for an extended period of time. The relationship has not been going well. Eric, the lead vampire in the area, asks Sookie to use her telepathy and go to Mississippi to find Bill who has been visiting an old flame and gotten himself kidnapped. WHAT?? Sookie goes and is escorted by Alcide Herveraux who is a yummy werewolf. They visit Club Dead, owned by the vampire king of Mississippi. They follow the clues and of course Eric shows up in disguise. There is a lot of mayhem, murder, stakings and torture. And a full moon at exactly the right time which brings out all the werewolves. This is a fun fluff read. Sookie is a bit too kind as who goes to rescue a boyfriend who has been cheating on you. Why does every supernatural being fall in love with Sookie? This is getting a bit much or maybe I am jealous :)
Date published: 2012-07-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Summer Reading This is definitely the kind of book you sit down in a sun chair and read. It was enjoyable and a pretty light read. It's usually fun to red about Sookie's adventures.
Date published: 2011-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from True Blood is awesome! Great Series! Although I can't say i like Sookie so much, she kind of seems self-centered. There is just something about how. However, I love her adventures!
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from ENTER ERIC AND ALCIDE- this is going to be fun CLUB DEAD is the third instalment from the Sookie Stackhouse series and I really enjoyed this one having finally come to terms with the fact that this is urban fantasy (and not paranormal romance) I was able to focus on the action, horror, humour and mystery aspects here and just let the romance take a back seat. Sookie is starting to feel like a delightful, adventurous friend who I can't wait to hear from to learn what adventures she's been up to lately. And with the broadening of sub characters and reappearances and "sightings" from others this series feels alot like coming home. Charlaine Harris continues to entertain with a fast paced, easy writing style and original ideas. She also manages to still keep Sookie relatable enough, despite her progression into the supernatural world that we can discover every bizarre occurrence right along with her. Sookie toughens up in this book, makes some new `friends' and sort of comes into her own. And although I was at first disappointed by Harris's storyline choices for Bill (what an a$$ he turned out to be) Eric and arrival of Alcide sure made up for his absence. Leaving things wide open and this reader very curious as to where exactly things are heading in the romance department. Lately Sookie's vampire boyfriend Bill has been a little absent, having more of a relationship with his computer and "project" then with her. When he suddenly announces that he's taking an extended business trip to another state Sookie realizes something other than vampire business is going on. Before long the bodies start piling up at work again, after a werewolf gang member tries to abduct Sookie and ends up face to face with some hard hitting but simple blue suede shoes. Enter the ever sexy and cheeky Eric, who informs Sookie that Bill's been kidnapped while spending time with an old flame in Mississippi. (So much for business) Now Eric needs Sookie's mind reading abilities to help locate Bill before they torture him to `real' death. Despite the obvious betrayal Sookie agrees, although she might just kill him herself once she finds him. Sookie soon finds herself under the care of one fantastic and yummy werewolf named Alcide Herveraux. They have an immediate connection and make a great team although romantically their timing is never quite right (what with all the body dumping, ex fiancé's and flying vamps coming to call) Alcide is to act as Sookie's date and guide while in Jackson, gaining her access into the otherwise off limits, Club Dead. This is where the vampire king of Mississippi hangs out whom they assume is responsible for Bills disappearance. Before long Eric turns up in another of his quirky disguises and general carnage ensues. The action in this book is non-stop with vampires and humans alike getting staked and of course it's a full moon which brings every beast in town out to play. It's a ton of unputdownable, blood spattered fun.
Date published: 2011-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great read by Charlaine Harris The third book in the series is the first book to more clearly delineate from the HBO TV series. As a fan of both the novels, and the TV series, once again, I was hooked.
Date published: 2010-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from funny... I enjoyed reading this book...I think it's the funniest of all so far...i really like Eric in this book..I think i'm starting to like more as the books go by...can't wait til the next one!
Date published: 2009-11-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wasn't Bad This is the 3rd book of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie needs to rescue Bill who has been kidnapped. She faces a moral dilemma when she discovers that Bill has done something that jepordized their relationship. Should she rescue him, shouldn't she...? The rescue operation leads to another rescue of another vampire who had been taken by a human organization against the existance of vampires...all in the name of God. They seem to be a bit of a cult with radical ideas and determination to achieve their goals. Sookie meets another supernatural being and who stirs romantic feelings in her. This, Bill's actions, and the risks to her life compound on decision about her romantic relationship with Bill. I am enjoying these books even though I find the pace slow at times. Intense moments are greats. I feel Sookie is fickle at times. Still not a bad read. I liked book 2 better. I'd recommend this series for those who enjoy paranormal romance with some mystery and adventure.
Date published: 2009-08-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Exclusive Undead Club This is the third book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Bill gets involved in a high end job for the Queen but finds himself in trouble. Eric enlists Sookie’s help in finding Bill when they discover he is missing in action. Sookie is introduced to Alcide, a rich werewolf who is slightly indebted to Eric. Alcide agrees to help Sookie find and pursue the bad guys and together they encounter many difficulties and near death experiences. Read more at: http://justkickinit.ca/2009/08/club-dead-by-charlaine-harris/
Date published: 2009-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Continues to be Great The third book in the series kept me reading late into the night. Though I found it lacked some of the punch that "Dead Until Dark" and "Living Dead in Dallas" both had, "Club Dead" is still a great read and will most certainly not disappoint fans of the series. I've grown to completely love Sookie and now I can't wait to find out what happens next in her crazy life! I'm so glad I only just discovered this series and have a few more books to go!
Date published: 2009-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from True Blood this ain't! This is one of my favourite Harris books. Long before the rushed, thin vampire books that she has been writing as of late. I really feel for Sookie in this story, and the introduction of the new characters is very well done. It also has left me with feelings about Bill that has lasted to this day.
Date published: 2009-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Is it steak or stake? This book is just like a steak, I could totally eat it up. What a fantastically written novel - incredible character development and thought out character introductions. Book # 3 of the Sookie Stakehouse Series, Club Dead, takes you that extra step further into the fantasy world. Kudos to Harris on writing such another great novel. And it's about time someone got steak... I mean staked! :) The better question is who took the staking!?!
Date published: 2009-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Consistant 3rd book Another good light hearted read. I like how this girl Sookie.. who is not at all worldly, is always stumbling into the longest lived beings that walk the earth. I enjoy the contrast between the different characters. It gives everyone someone to relate to. And with the arrival of Alcide in this installment was a breath of fresh air. No matter what kind of person u are, i'm sure u'll have one of the love/lust interests to root for as far as Sookie is concerned. This book flowed better for me and now am fully hooked.. so don't give up on this series.
Date published: 2009-05-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sucked In For the first third of Club Dead, my same old complaint about Sookie Stackhouse was widening and deepening, and I thought it was finally going to take its toll on my enjoyment of Charlaine Harris’ books. Even now, even after Harris won me back and entertained the hell out of me, I am still not sure how she feels about Sookie’s behaviour and I fear for my long term enjoyment of the series. You see, Sookie is a hypocrite of gargantuan proportions. From Dead Until Dark to Club Dead, Sookie has made out or more with Sam Merlotte (her boss and a Shape Shifter), Eric (the gorgeous Scandinavian Vampire), and Alcide (the big, burly, manly Werewolf). She’s had sexual contact with all of them, rationalized her behaviour in her head, and kept it secret from Bill -- the Vampire she is supposed to love. And fair enough. I don’t really have a problem with that. But I do have a problem with her self-righteousness. She’s offended when Bill notices a girl’s bum, she’s offended when she merely thinks Bill has “betrayed,” and she is instantly willing to hold his behaviour up to a standard that she herself does not practice. Even worse, if Bill keeps a secret from her, she considers it a betrayal that actually has her contemplating “sharpening stakes” to make him pay for his transgression, but when she keeps a secret from him...well, that’s no big deal at all. But Sookie’s self-righteousness isn’t only in the big events of love and sex, it’s even in the small things, the moments that don’t matter. For instance, Pam, a particularly cold Vampire that Sookie actually considers a friend, fails to say thanks for some True Blood Sookie gave her to drink. Her manners appall Sookie, and little miss indignant gleefully expresses her disgust at the Vampire’s lack of couth. Yet the night before, Pam sent Bubba (an undead and practically brain dead Elvis) to save Sookie from a werewolf attack, and never did Sookie utter a word of thanks. Here’s the thing that bothers me: if this is how Harris sees the world, if she thinks that Sookie is as righteous as Sookie seems to think she is, if she actually doesn’t perceive the hypocrisy and stupidity of the woman she’s made the hero of her stories, then Sookie’s insufferability goes beyond my ability to forgive. If, on the other hand, Harris is fully aware of Sookie’s insufferability, and she has chosen this as a character trait to make Sookie a genuinely flawed protagonist, then the choice is a good one and Harris is successful. At times, I think it’s the former and not the latter. If it were the latter, I would expect to see other characters calling her on her behaviour. But the only character who comes close, Eric, can only muster a raised eyebrow and an instant increase in his desire for the feisty, southern, telepathic, waitressing belle. Still, it could be the latter rather than the former because every once in a while Sookie will flirt with condemning herself for her behaviour just before she rationalizes her decisions as she usually does. If it wasn’t for Anna Paquin’s transformative performance of Sookie in the HBO TV series, I don’t know that I could have even gotten this far in the Sookie books. But by the end of [book:Club Dead] I found that I am really glad I have. Despite my feelings about Sookie, this third book of the series is the best. Charlaine Harris, for all her authorial faults, infuses her stories with a palpable ease. Sookie may be a pain in my *ss, but she is a pain in my *ss that I can believe exists. I love her quirkiness and all the crazy situations but believeable situations Harris puts her in. And therein lies Harris’ real talent: I buy her urban fantasy world, and if I could live in any urban fantasy world it would be hers. So I guess I’m moving on to book four the next time I need a book to read while I am doing dishes.
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 3rd Hit in a row! Loved this book as every other book in the series! I like that there are always new characters being introduced! I love the Alcide/Sookie dynamic! I also love the book because it shows us some more Eric! The books are short/fast reads but totally entertaining! I really hope the series isn't stopping anytime soon!
Date published: 2009-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Book Three hits the stride for the series As if often the case in a series, book three is where things really take off. In the case of the Sookie Stackhouse series, it's her vampire boyfriend, Bill, who takes off at the start of this novel, after being a bit neglectful of her for a while. Soon, Sookie is wrapped up in yet another mystery, where her telepathic abilities are her only real edge (though this time she also teams up with a very sexy Werewolf named Alcide). Sookie's inner monologue is, as always, fun and light, and there's some great wordplay that I've grown to love in this series. She's snarky, and has a good backbone by this entry. Similarly, the world building Harris has packed into the first two books is paying off - the plot tangles and snarls in 'Club Dead' so much that it's nearly a mystery. I read this years ago, but since 'True Blood,' I've been listening to the series. I listened to this book unabridged on audio.
Date published: 2009-05-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Club Dead This is the third novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series. It starts off as Bill being distant in his relationship with Sookie, especially because he is working on some secret project and he won't tell Sookie what it is about. Bill then goes on a business trip, leaving Sookie to wonder about their relationship. However, along comes Eric, informing Sookie that Bill is missing, and he also tells Sookie that Bill was planning on leaving her. Enraged, she agrees to help find Bill, by teaming up with a werewolf named Alcide. Together, they go to a supernatural bar (werewolfs, vampires, shapeshifters etc), and Sookie uses her ability to try and find out where Bill is. Sookie must make the decision to go through with saving Bill, or leaving him to die. This book seemed to raise a lot of questions, none of which were answered (perhaps they will be answered in the next book?).
Date published: 2009-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved Bubba ****Contains Spoilers**** This books starts off right after the last (Living Dead in Dallas). Right off the bat you see that Bill has been acting distant and leaves Sookie for a "buisness trip". We find out that Bill was going to leave sookie for Lorna (his lover and vampire creator). But at the same time Eric tells Sookie that Bill is missing and asks her for help locating him. Here she meets Alcide. What can I say. What a wonderful character. I've always been a Sookie/Eric together fan but this Alicide is quite a character and could possibly be a great love intrest in the future books. Now Sookie has to go to Club Dead to find out where Bill is by reading people's minds. I really enjoyed the action in this book and her interactions with Alcide and Eric. Sookie and Eric's chemistry just intensifies in this book. You can see that he cares for her and always laughes at her jokes. He is always there in the time she needs him the most in this book. Did I mention that Bubba's back! Sookie spend most of the book trying to come to terms with Bill's betrayl. And while searching for Bill Sookie finds herself a target for the Jackson Wearwolves. Club Dead-has a fast paced plot, filled with humor, suspense, vampire lore and politics, new characters and excitement.
Date published: 2009-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I have said it before for the first two books and I can't help say it again but I find these books so refreshing and light hearted that I am addicted! I think however above all else I am really enjoying the fact that Eric makes more of an appearance in this book and he is truly becoming one of my favourite characters. My only complaint about the books is that I almost hate having to start the next one because then I have to go through those pages of background history explaining how Sookie knows everyone and the previous events that have happend and I am truly wondering how much injury can one person take?
Date published: 2009-03-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Club Dead Club Dead is the third installment by author Charlaine Harris in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern vampire series and like the preceding titles I found this novel to be lacking in character and plot developement. I personally enjoy reading series for those reasons, being able to become more involved in a characters life and conflicts while progressing along with them. Harris's characters unfortuately remain largely one dimensional, particularly Sookie herself who consistantly seems to learn nothing and succeed only in getting herself into further trouble. Sookie, while having faced a difficult past with the tragic deaths of her parents, grandmother, and friends as well as the attempts on her own life, learns nothing and matures very little. She is an uneducated, although self taught, young woman whos only menially intelligent lines are derived from her "word a day calender" which is often ill-used. It is not however my intention in this review be completely negative, Harris' novels have an entertaining premise if it is underdeveloped. The Stackhouse vampire novels are light, escapist reading which could be greatly improved with a stronger female lead character and a more developed plot line. Perhaps instead of "storing away on a shelf" some of Sookies self-reflective thoughts, they should be explored and integrated into the story in lieu of the more superficial details like how well her tan has been maintained.
Date published: 2008-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it I love how Harris is not afraid to take her main character out of her comfort zone. She lets her travel and her ability to bring her world alive is amazing. I love how simply wonderful the book was, how fascinating the characters are and how much fun it was to read.
Date published: 2008-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's raining (supernatural) men! This book is just as hot as the previous one! So hard to put down, I ended up staying up till 4am just to finish it! If you didn't think Bill and Sookie's relationship could get any more complicated, just wait till you finish this one! And by the end of this one you will find it hard to resist Eric (mmm dreamy Eric).
Date published: 2008-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard to Put Down I'm really loving reading this series and with each new book it just keeps getting better and better. One of the best vampire series I've read in a very long time.
Date published: 2008-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prime Sookie! **********SPOILERS********** In Club Dead, Sookie finds her relationship with Bill going downhill fast because he's far too preoccupied with a secret project for the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. The next thing Sookie knows, Bill has gone missing, and she is informed by Pam and Eric that Bill has betrayed her with a former lover! Eric recruits Sookie to help find and recue Bill, but she can't do it alone, so Eric calls in a favor with a sexy werewolf, Alcide. Sookie stays with Alcide under the guise of his new girlfriend to gain entrance into Club Dead, a bar owned by vampires that caters solely to supernatural creatures, in order to ascertain information on Bill's location and captors. The sexual tension between the recently betrayed Sookie and Alcide is thick, but Alcide's deranged ex-girlfriend, Debbie, causes nothing but problems. During the course of this novel, Sookie sustains many injuries and deals with many unexpected plot twists, but you will have to read it to find out the rest! Club Dead is a highly enjoyable read that is action packed, fast paced, and steamy. There is even a dose of humor included in the form of Bubba, who I find charming in a capricious way. The introduction of Alcide was very enjoyable. He is definitely a new addition to the list of potential love interests for Sookie. I thought Alcide was tempting in a very masculine way, but he’s got some flaws. I’m sure many readers will find him attractive, and we all know that fans of this series like drooling over the characters. I liked how Sookie has matured as a character. Sookie was brave when she faced danger, but she was realistic because she still felt fear and even guilt at times. I sympathized with her broken heart, but I admired that she didn't hold a grudge. I liked that Sookie took the high road, so to speak, because I think of her as a “good girl” type. It would have tarnished her for me if she had acted differently, so I’m glad Harris maintained Sookie’s image. Another thing that delighted me about Club Dead was Eric’s attempts to seduce Sookie. For those who are on Team Eric, Club Dead has a very spicy moment between them, but Sookie's resolve not to be Eric's play thing and a well timed interruption cut things short. *disappointed sigh* The ending of Club Dead really left me wanting more! I immediately picked up the next book in the series, Dead to the World. I would unequivocally recommend Club Dead to everyone who has been following the series. If you haven’t read the first two books, Dead until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas, I would recommend that you read them before picking up Club Dead because you will get more out of the story that way. Club Dead fantastic! (I resisted the urge to say it was fangtastic. You all should be proud of me.)
Date published: 2008-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Team Eric This novel is for all those who are pro Team Eric. The great play and propositions he offers in this book were so much fun.
Date published: 2008-01-18

Read from the Book

From Club DeadBy Charlaine HarrisClub Dead copyright 2003 by Charlaine HarrisBill was hunched over the computer when I let myself in his house. This was an all-too-familiar scenario in the past month or two. He’d torn himself away from his work when I came home, until the past couple of weeks. Now it was the keyboard that attracted him. “Hello, sweetheart,” he said absently, his gaze riveted to the screen. An empty bottle of type O TrueBlood was on the desk beside the keyboard. At least he’d remembered to eat.Bill, not a jeans-and-tee kind of guy, was wearing khakis and a plaid shirt in muted blue and green. His skin was glowing, and his thick dark hair smelled like Herbal Essence. He was enough to give any woman a hormonal surge. I kissed his neck, and he didn’t react. I licked his ear. Nothing.I’d been on my feet for six hours straight at Merlotte’s Bar, and every time some customer had under-tipped, or some fool had patted my fanny, I’d reminded myself that in a short while I’d be with my boyfriend, having incredible sex and basking in his attention.That didn’t appear to be happening.I inhaled slowly and steadily and glared at Bill’s back. It was a wonderful back, with broad shoulders, and I had planned on seeing it bare with my nails dug into it. I had counted on that very strongly. I exhaled, slowly and steadily.“Be with you in a minute,” Bill said. On the screen, there was a snapshot of a distinguished man with silver hair and a dark tan. He looked sort of Anthony Quinn—type sexy, and he looked powerful. Under the picture was a name, and under that was some text. “Born 1756 in Sicily,” it began. Just as I opened my mouth to comment that vampires did appear in photographs despite the legend, Bill twisted around and realized I was reading.He hit a button and the screen went blank.I stared at him, not quite believing what had just happened.“Sookie,” he said, attempting a smile. His fangs were retracted, so he was totally not in the mood in which I’d hoped to find him; he wasn’t thinking of me carnally. Like all vampires, his fangs are only fully extended when he’s in the mood for the sexy kind of lust, or the feeding-and-killing kind of lust. (Sometimes, those lusts all get kind of snarled up, and you get your dead fang-bangers. But that element of danger is what attracts most fang-bangers, if you ask me.) Though I’ve been accused of being one of those pathetic creatures that hang around vampires in the hope of attracting their attention, there’s only one vampire I’m involved with (at least voluntarily) and it was the one sitting right in front of me. The one who was keeping secrets from me. The one who wasn’t nearly glad enough to see me.“Bill,” I said coldly. Something was Up, with a capital U. And it wasn’t Bill’s libido. (Libido had just been on my Word-A-Day calendar.)“You didn’t see what you just saw,” he said steadily. His dark brown eyes regarded me without blinking.“Uh-huh,” I said, maybe sounding just a little sarcastic. “What are you up to?”“I have a secret assignment.”I didn’t know whether to laugh or stalk away in a snit. So I just raised my eyebrows and waited for more. Bill was the investigator for Area 5, a vampire division of Louisiana. Eric, the head of Area 5, had never given Bill an “assignment” that was secret from me before. In fact, I was usually an integral part of the investigation team, however unwilling I might be.“Eric must not know. None of the Area 5 vampires can know.”My heart sank. “So—if you’re not doing a job for Eric, who are you working for?” I knelt because my feet were so tired, and I leaned against Bill’s knees.“The queen of Louisiana,” he said, almost in a whisper.Because he looked so solemn, I tried to keep a straight face, but it was no use. I began to laugh, little giggles that I couldn’t suppress.“You’re serious?” I asked, knowing he must be. Bill was almost always a serious kind of fellow. I buried my face on his thigh so he couldn’t see my amusement. I rolled my eyes up for a quick look at his face. He was looking pretty pissed.“I am as serious as the grave,” Bill said, and he sounded so steely, I made a major effort to change my attitude.“Okay, let me get this straight,” I said in a reasonably level tone. I sat back on the floor, cross-legged, and rested my hands on my knees. “You work for Eric, who is the boss of Area 5, but there is also a queen? Of Louisiana?”Bill nodded.“So the state is divided up into Areas? And she’s Eric’s superior, since he runs a business in Shreveport, which is in Area 5.”Again with the nod. I put my hand over my face and shook my head. “So, where does she live, Baton Rouge?” The state capital seemed the obvious place.“No, no. New Orleans, of course.”Of course. Vampire central. You could hardly throw a rock in the Big Easy without hitting one of the undead, according to the papers (though only a real fool would do so). The tourist trade in New Orleans was booming, but it was not exactly the same crowd as before, the hard-drinking, rollicking crowd who’d filled the city to party hearty. The newer tourists were the ones who wanted to rub elbows with the undead; patronize a vampire bar, visit a vampire prostitute, watch a vampire sex show.This was what I’d heard; I hadn’t been to New Orleans since I was little. My mother and father had taken my brother, Jason, and me. That would have been before I was seven, because that’s when they died.Mama and Daddy died nearly twenty years before vampires had appeared on network television to announce the fact that they were actually present among us, an announcement that had followed on the Japanese development of synthetic blood that actually maintained a vampire’s life without the necessity of drinking from humans.The United States vampire community had let the Japanese vampire clans come forth first. Then, simultaneously, in most of the nations of the world that had television—and who doesn’t these days?—the announcement had been made in hundreds of different languages, by hundreds of carefully picked personable vampires.That night, two and half years ago, we regular old live people learned that we had always lived with monsters among us.“But”—the burden of this announcement had been—“now we can come forward and join with you in harmony. You are in no danger from us anymore. We don’t need to drink from you to live.”As you can imagine, this was a night of high ratings and tremendous uproar. Reaction varied sharply, depending on the nation.The vampires in the predominantly Islamic nations had fared the worst. You don’t even want to know what happened to the undead spokesman in Syria, though perhaps the female vamp in Afghanistan died an even more horrible—and final—death. (What were they thinking, selecting a female for that particular job? Vampires could be so smart, but they sometimes didn’t seem quite in touch with the present world.)Some nations—France, Italy, and Germany were the most notable—refused to accept vampires as equal citizens. Many—like Bosnia, Argentina, and most of the African nations—denied any status to the vampires, and declared them fair game for any bounty hunter. But America, England, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries adopted a more tolerant attitude.It was hard to determine if this reaction was what the vampires had expected or not. Since they were still struggling to maintain a foothold in the stream of the living, the vampires remained very secretive about their organization and government, and what Bill was telling me now was the most I’d ever heard on the subject.“So, the Louisiana queen of the vampires has you working on a secret project,” I said, trying to sound neutral. “And this is why you have lived at your computer every waking hour for the past few weeks.”“Yes,” Bill said. He picked up the bottle of TrueBlood and tipped it up, but there were only a couple of drops left. He went down the hall into the small kitchen area (when he’d remodeled his old family home, he’d pretty much left out the kitchen, since he didn’t need one) and extracted another bottle from the refrigerator. I was tracking him by sound as he opened the bottle and popped it into the microwave. The microwave went off, and he reentered, shaking the bottle with his thumb over the top so there wouldn’t be any hot spots.“So, how much more time do you have to spend on this project?” I asked—reasonably, I thought.“As long as it takes,” he said, less reasonably. Actually, Bill sounded downright irritable.Hmmm. Could our honeymoon be over? Of course I mean figurative honeymoon, since Bill’s a vampire and we can’t be legally married, practically anywhere in the world.Not that he’s asked me.“Well, if you’re so absorbed in your project, I’ll just stay away until it’s over,” I said slowly.“That might be best,” Bill said, after a perceptible pause, and I felt like he’d socked me in the stomach. In a flash, I was on my feet and pulling my coat back over my cold-weather waitress outfit—black slacks, white boat-neck long-sleeved tee with “Merlotte’s” embroidered over the left breast. I turned my back to Bill to hide my face.I was trying not to cry, so I didn’t look at him even after I felt Bill’s hand touch my shoulder.“I have to tell you something,” Bill said in his cold, smooth voice. I stopped in the middle of pulling on my gloves, but I didn’t think I could stand to see him. He could tell my backside.“If anything happens to me,” he continued (and here’s where I should have begun worrying), ``you must look in the hiding place I built at your house. My computer should be in it, and some disks. Don’t tell anyone. If the computer isn’t in the hiding place, come over to my house and see if it’s here. Come in the daytime, and come armed. Get the computer and any disks you can find, and hide them in my hidey-hole, as you call it.”I nodded. He could see that from the back. I didn’t trust my voice.“If I’m not back, or if you don’t get word from me, in say…eight weeks—yes, eight weeks, then tell Eric everything I said to you today. And place yourself under his protection.”I didn’t speak. I was too miserable to be furious, but it wouldn’t be long before I reached meltdown. I acknowledged his words with a jerk of my head. I could feel my ponytail switch against my neck.“I am going to…Seattle soon,” Bill said. I could feel his cool lips touch the place my ponytail had brushed.He was lying.“When I come back, we’ll talk.”Somehow, that didn’t sound like an entrancing prospect. Somehow, that sounded ominous.Again I inclined my head, not risking speech because I was actually crying now. I would rather have died than let him see the tears.And that was how I left him, that cold December night.The next day, on my way to work, I took an unwise detour. I was in that kind of mood where I was rolling in how awful everything was. Despite a nearly sleepless night, something inside me told me I could probably make my mood a little worse if I drove along Magnolia Creek Road: so sure enough, that’s what I did.The old Bellefleur mansion, Belle Rive, was a beehive of activity, even on a cold and ugly day. There were vans from the pest control company, a kitchen design firm, and a siding contractor parked at the kitchen entrance to the antebellum home. Life was just humming for Caroline Holliday Bellefleur, the ancient lady who had ruled Belle Rive and (at least in part) Bon Temps for the past eighty years. I wondered how Portia, a lawyer, and Andy, a detective, were enjoying all the changes at Belle Rive. They had lived with their grandmother (as I had lived with mine) for all their adult lives. At the very least, they had to be enjoying her pleasure in the mansion’s renovation.My own grandmother had been murdered a few months ago.The Bellefleurs hadn’t had anything to do with it, of course. And there was no reason Portia and Andy would share the pleasure of this new affluence with me. In fact, they both avoided me like the plague. They owed me, and they couldn’t stand it. They just didn’t know how much they owed me.The Bellefleurs had received a mysterious legacy from a relative who had ``died mysteriously over in Europe somewhere,” I’d heard Andy tell a fellow cop while they were drinking at Merlotte’s. When she dropped off some raffle tickets for Gethsemane Baptist Church’s Ladies’ Quilt, Maxine Fortenberry told me Miss Caroline had combed every family record she could unearth to identify their benefactor, and she was still mystified at the family’s good fortune.She didn’t seem to have any qualms about spending the money, though.Even Terry Bellefleur, Portia and Andy’s cousin, had a new pickup sitting in the packed dirt yard of his double-wide. I liked Terry, a scarred Viet Nam vet who didn’t have a lot of friends, and I didn’t grudge him a new set of wheels.But I thought about the carburetor I’d just been forced to replace in my old car. I’d paid for the work in full, though I’d considered asking Jim Downey if I could just pay half and get the rest together over the next two months. But Jim had a wife and three kids. Just this morning I’d been thinking of asking my boss, Sam Merlotte, if he could add to my hours at the bar. Especially with Bill gone to “Seattle,” I could just about live at Merlotte’s, if Sam could use me. I sure needed the money.I tried real hard not to be bitter as I drove away from Belle Rive. I went south out of town and then turned left onto Hummingbird Road on my way to Merlotte’s. I tried to pretend that all was well; that on his return from Seattle—or wherever—Bill would be a passionate lover again, and Bill would treasure me and make me feel valuable once more. I would again have that feeling of belonging with someone, instead of being alone.Of course, I had my brother, Jason. Though as far as intimacy and companionship goes, I had to admit that he hardly counted.But the pain in my middle was the unmistakable pain of rejection. I knew the feeling so well, it was like a second skin.I sure hated to crawl back inside it.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels“It’s the kind of book you look forward to reading before you go to bed, thinking you’re only going to read one chapter, and then you end up reading seven.”—Alan Ball, executive producer of True Blood“Vivid, subtle, and funny in her portrayal of southern life.”—Entertainment Weekly“Charlaine Harris has vividly imagined telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and her small-town Louisiana milieu, where humans, vampires, shapeshifters, and other sentient critters live...Her mash-up of genres is delightful, taking elements from mysteries, horror stories, and romances.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“The series continues to be inventive and funny with an engaging, smart, and sexy heroine.”—The Denver Post“Blending action, romance, and comedy, Harris has created a fully functioning world so very close to our own, except, of course, for the vamps and other supernatural creatures.”—The Toronto Star