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Dead Ever After
by Charlaine Harris
ACE, $27.95, 338pp
Release Date: May 7, 2013
This is it. This is the end of Sookie Stackhouse stories from Ms. Harris. It’s a bit of a hollow feeling. Since the beginning, each book release was like a visit to a favorite candy shoppe. I only hope she finds something to give us equally fun and satisfying.

So…if you read these stories, you know that Sookie tends to piss people off; and over the course of many years she’s managed to acquire a following of those who hate her – either because of what she is or what she’s done. And, of course, when it rains in Bon Temps, it pours.

After the momentous event at the end of the last book where Sookie used her last-of-its-kind-anywhere cluviel dor (a magical elven love token) to save Sam, life hasn’t been the same. The problems begin with Eric’s cold behavior, keeping a distance between him and Sookie; and Sookie can only guess at the reason. Sam doesn’t have the reaction that Sookie expected after she saved him from death, i.e. gushing gratitude and heartfelt thanks. And then Arlene shows up at the bar asking for a job. (Remember her? She tried to get Sookie nailed to a cross.)

And things just go from bad to worse from there. When Sookie finds out why Eric is keeping his distance, it devastates her. But the cherry on top is being accused of Arlene’s murder. The evidence is circumstantial but Alcee Beck seems uncharacteristically determined to see Sookie put away for the deed. Sookie begins to suspect there is something more behind his pathological persecution. Surprisingly (to Sookie), her friends show up in droves to support her and do whatever is necessary to prove her innocence. Eric even posts her bail. And also surprising to Sookie, is Sam’s absence. Of all her friends, she was sure she could count on his support. But it turns out to be a combination of many of her friends that saves her bacon: Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, Amelia, Bob and Barry. It was great fun to have so many of these people back in the story. You’ll notice I didn’t mention any vampires – well, maybe one or two contributed a little. This was a decidedly un-vampirish story and with good reason when you get to the end. But I’m not saying more.

The structure of this book was a little different. I think – without pulling all the books off my shelf – that all her books were always told from Sookie’s viewpoint. This book has a different feel to it. Because this book was announced as the end of the series, the author did have to pull the plotlines together to resolve them. And I think she did a fine job while still having a new and exciting murder mystery.

The characters, which are always Ms. Harris’ strong-suit, are wonderfully fleshed out. The plot was a very nicely complicated murder mystery, again – one of Ms. Harris’ strengths. But mostly…it’s all about Sookie. She lives and breathes in these stories and I shall miss her the most. ~~ Catherine Book

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