Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Review of "A Touch Of Dead"

Written by Charlaine Harris
Released in 2009

Niall: “Merry Christmas, Sookie.”

With this book franchise continuing to be popular for Charlaine Harris, I am delighted that she found the time to give us a book where we got a couple of short stories that decided to tie up some loose ends in between certain books.

The first story in this book, “Fairy Dust” gave an official introduction to Claude but more than that, it also saw the vain stripper and his sister Claudine rope Sookie in to find out who killed their sister, Claudette. Out of the three suspects, each of them had different motives – Jeff the bouncer, due to Claudette sabotaging his relationship with Claude, Barry the shaver for being spurned by Claudette and Rita the strip club owner over the possibility of losing one of her biggest assets. I won’t spoil the culprit but I can tell you that Claude and Claudette do have a very interesting method of getting their own back nonetheless and proves how ruthless a fairy can be in this verse.

Second story, “Dracula Night” finally confirmed something I had been wondering about in relation to this verse for a while now – the existence of Dracula. Not only does the Count in fact exist, but he also gets a day to himself and if a vampire bar is lucky enough, he might honour them with his presence. It’s a decent motive for explaining Eric’s panicky behaviour and while the bartender pretending to be the Count was a cop out, Sookie/Eric fans might enjoy the bouts of sexual tension between the pair in this one. Sadly, Bill and Pam are both rather underused in this one.

Third instalment, “One Word Answer” proves that even in short story form, we’ll never see Hadley alive (something I am grateful for the series doing then). It dances about the place with Sookie coming to the conclusion that albino vampire Waldo was responsible for her cousin’s death, even though that’s not technically true. However the real meat of the story is in Sookie’s brief but interesting encounter with vampire queen, Sophie-Anne. Now that’s something the series had better get over with in its upcoming fourth season already.

“Lucky” might be the fourth story in this bunch but it’s a bloody cracker. I’ve enjoyed Sookie and Amelia’s friendship in previous books and having the pair of them band together to find out who’s trying to ruin Greg Auburt’s business is definitely full of interesting twists and turns. The actual culprit itself is also a far better pay-off than the lists of presumed suspects that Sookie and Amelia have to wade through but points for the inclusion of Terry during this one as well.

However my favourite story is the fifth and final one, “Gift Wrap”. Being on her own, Sookie’s having a rotten Christmas, so great-grandfather Niall decided to give her the most unorthodox of presents. Sookie wasn’t speaking to Jason, so her brother loaned out her woods for a were pack, she loves helping and protecting others, so the rather delectable fairy Preston posed as a were and because Sookie hasn’t gotten laid in a while, Preston promptly seduces her before exiting. As presents go, it’s definitely memorable but while Niall was trying to be kind, it also showed the more manipulative side of the fae quite excellently too. Still, it’s the best of an impressive bunch of stories.

- Each of the stories are set at different points in the books but they’re all after “Dead To The World” and before “Dead And Gone”.
- Dracula drinks Royalty – very rare and part synthetic, part real blood. Well, only the best for the Count, eh?
- The cover for this book has lips with blood dripping down. It’s definitely one of my favourite covers.
- Sookie doesn’t approve massively of her great grandfather’s choice in ties and we’re told that Niall’s not Christian.

As a collection of short stories go, “A Touch Of Dead” is a lovely addition to this book verse. The stories all work wonderfully, add more layers to existing books and with any luck, maybe we’ll get another collection of short stories one day.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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