Dead in the FamilyBook - 2010
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Dead in the Family" has a very appropriate title -- all sorts of family members pop up, and not just for Sookie. Charlaine Harris still can whips up a pleasant warm Southern vibe for her not-so-urban fantasies, but unfortunately this latest novel isn't quite up to her usual standards: it's basically a mass of fluffy in-between storylines that rarely go anywhere.
Just after Amelia leaves for New Orleans, Sookie's cousin Claude appears at her home and asks to move in with her, since he's a lone fairy who needs the presence of another. Bill is suffering from silver poisoning AND depression, and Sookie has to find a "relative" who can help him. And Eric has some family issues as well -- his maker Appius Livius Ocella shows up on Sookie's doorstep, along with his "son"/lover Alexei.
To make matters worse, unidentified fairies and weres have been crossing Sookie's land,, and it also turns out that there's a dead body buried back there. And it's not Debbie Pelt's. Now Sookie must unravel the secrets plaguing the supernaturals around her, or there might be even more deaths.
"Dead in the Family" feels like Charlaine Harris wrote half-a-dozen short stories, ripped them apart at the seams, and then sewed them back together. There's no central plot to this book, just a mass of fluffy subplots woven loosely around each other. And some of the stories don't really have much point to them, so the book feels cluttered and fragmented.
The saving grace is that some of those subplots ARE interesting, mainly the ones that develop the characters -- the whole subplot involving Bill and the elderly Caroline Bellefleur is quite sweet and touching, and it should be interesting to see where Harris takes the religious/political pressure on the weres. And the typically bloody climax is a pretty shocking, gruesome one, if a bit slapdash.
But Sookie's characterization is very shaky in this book -- Harris zooms through her entire recovery from being TORTURED in one chapter and initially she seems so aggressive. Fortunately she gets steadier and sunnier after the first few chapters, and it's intriguing to see her various family members interacting with her -- fae, were and telepathic human.
And there's some much-needed development given to the sexy, devil-may-care Claude (it's very cute when he's goofing around on the playground with Hunter), as well as new insights into Bill and Eric's lives and families (both living and undead).