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Friday, September 7, 2012

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Berkley Publishing, Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart…

Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Deadlocked is like a huge pot of gumbo, slowly cooking and building steam until it’s hot and yummy enough to eat. There are a lot of elements that make this book enjoyable, interesting and at times, quite surprising. There are old friends and foes that cross paths bringing story threads to a head which created shockwaves that left me reeling.

What I found surprising was the tone of the story. It was almost conversational. For a change, Sookie was able to enjoy mundane, normal human events without the paranormal influence. The author took precious moments in the story to explore the heroine doing everyday things with her friends and family. I interpreted it as giving readers short bursts of insight as to what her life would or could have been like without the high octane influence of Eric, Bill or Alicide, and the supernatural politics that follow them.

Unfortunately, that isn’t Sookie’s life and any oasis of normalcy only served to showcase how crazy her life has become. It really amazes me how much her character has changed over the course of the series. At one point, the fact that she has killed is brought up and its revelation really made me stop and think. Oh yeah! That’s right, that happened! And that. And, I can’t believe I forgot that one! Her thought process has certainly matured, but I’m not certain if it’s a good thing or a sad thing. One fact remains, she’s not a pushover, she’s not afraid to make hard choices nor does she cower away from the consequences. Those are good characteristics to have because every single one was tested in this book.

I can’t put my finger on who the hero is this time around. It’s not clear cut and in fact, I think there is a new reality starting to rear its ugly head and it’s not a happy thought. That brings up something I’ve realized about Ms. Harris. She’s not afraid to take the road less traveled, nor does she bow to popular pressure. Her characters do what they must, even if it hurts or they bleed because of it. That is true in this book.

The pace of the tale wasn’t as tight and hard-hitting as some of the past books have been. There were a lot more pages expended on downtime than actual dealings with crises. At one point, it seemed like it had elements of Perry Mason – sleuthing, asking questions and trying to put together a puzzle by cross-examining one’s self conscience with the little facts they knew. I mean, it was good she was making a sweet potato casserole, but I would have been happier with less descriptive steps of the process.

As for bad guys, there are always trouble makers that complicate Sookie’s life. In this installment, I expected one of them because it’s a carryover character from the previous book. What I didn’t expect was the other villain. That was a shocker. I suppose it made sense as the person did have a sour attitude for a lot of the time that the bad guy was on scene. In retrospect and in thinking back with the knowledge I now have, would I have seen it then? Probably not. The bad guy was very clever.

The one thing that really made this novel a must read was the cluviel dor. Finally, its mystery is solved. It’s about time Sookie made her wish and its use was one of the most significant shockers in the whole book. It was pretty dramatic.

Romance for the heroine is a rocky road. Each man she’s been with has helped her grow and learn about herself. Through the pain of separation, she’s learned that she can survive and move forward. I believe that Sookie is going to grow a bit more and I won’t be surprised if it’s going to be even more painful than in the past. I’m not sure which way it will ultimately fall, but at the end of this book a new possibility nipped at my brain. Could that even work? Only the author knows. But I did find a few of their actions as something that could feed that kind of development. As for her usual hunky beau, Eric and the word sex don’t go together much in this one, much to my disappointment. In fact, there is not a lot of togetherness with anyone in Deadlocked. I think I’m being set up.

I want to make it clear that this is not a standalone read. Too much character by-play has gone on between all the characters, both main and secondary, for a new reader to jump in here. What has happened in past books has a clear impact on the plot and its effect on Sookie in Deadlocked.

Deadlocked lulls a reader with a false sense of calm illusion before it explodes into an amazing tale of drama, suspense and intrigue with shocking revelations that leaves a reader stunned. For fans of the series, it’s a must read because so many threads are being gathered and some important ones are solved. There is no doubt that Sookie is loved by the men in her life but which one will be the love of her life? That is the one final mystery that I hope one day will be solved. In the meantime, sign me up for the next Sookie adventure. It’s going to be an auto-buy for me.

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