I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).
The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges - and soon Sookie's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed.
But that's easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly...
Just as telepath Sookie enjoys resting her mind around Vampire Bill, whose thoughts she can’t hear, I enjoy resting myself in this series that I’ve read and enjoyed before.
I find myself really curious about Charlaine Harris’ writing practices—did she have this series planned out well in advance or did she just sit down at her desk each day to see where the characters took her? Maybe a hybrid somewhere in between? I feel like the general arc of the story must have been laid out in advance, but then some characters (the maenad, for example) just seem to appear without warning or explanation.
But Harris delivers some on-the-nose commentary about American society, despite the supernatural elements. Take for example the lawyer Hugo that Sookie is teamed-up with to investigate the Fellowship of the Sun:
I could tell Hugo was convinced that he would get to walk back up these stairs: after all, he was a civilized person. These were all civilized people.
Hugo really couldn't imagine that anything irreparable could happen to him, because he was a middle-class white American with a college education, as were all the people on the stairs with us.
I had no such conviction. I was not a wholly civilized person.
I’ve made assumptions like this—that life is safe and that bad things won’t happen. It’s these little observations that make this series more than just fluff. Just as Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple could gauge people from her village experience, Sookie has good psychological experience from being a woman, a telepath, and a bar maid in a small town. It’s true what they say, that everybody knows your business in a small town and this gives anyone who is paying attention a chance to educate themselves in the field of human behaviour!