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Vampire Battle of New Orleans
on 7 June 2006
Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series just keeps getting better and better. Many series cool to lukewarm after several installments, however this sixth volume is the best yet (and I thought #5, Dead as a Doornail, couldn't be topped - I was wrong).
Telepath Sookie Stackhouse pulls herself away from new love interest Quinn (a were-tiger), and travels to New Orleans to sort through her murdered cousin Hadley's estate. Hadley, a fairly new vampire, had been quite the bohemian goth-eccentric as well as lover to the Louisiana Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne. And now she is definitely dead - the non-negotiable finale to a vampire existence.
Ominous events shadow Sookie from even before she leaves her home of Bon Temps. Murder, missed messages, and mayhem presage the even greater dangers Sookie encounters in The Big Easy. Hadley's landlady, the witch Amelia, joins with Sookie to solve the mystery of the body they find in Hadley's closet. Forces conspire to stop Sookie from delving into Hadley's past, and her relationship with the Queen. Perhaps the most vicious blow is not physical, but emotional, as Sookie discovers the real reason her first love, Bill, came to Bon Temps.
Mystery, intrigue, and passion grow as events escalate into a war between the Lousiana vampires, loyal to the Queen, and the Arkansas vampires, loyal to the Queen's new consort Peter. Quinn, Eric, Bill, and others well known to loyal readers rally to save Sookie and uncover who is behind the plot to kill her. New characters, such as the Saxons Sigebert and Wybert, delight. Harris' storytelling skills are at a new high, as she weaves seemingly disparate plot lines into a tight, cohesive, and totally satisfying ending (although I didn't want it to conclude). I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Aside: Charlaine's tender explanation and tribute to the people of New Orleans, in a prologue, is a loving gesture, and doubtless much appreciated. Perhaps the publishers would consider channeling a small portion of the profits to a Katrina relief fund?