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by Charlaine Harris
Ace Books, March 2008
352 pages
ISBN: 0441015816

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Harris's seventh Sookie Stackhouse adventure, our telepathic barmaid finds herself in the midst of a vampire convention, serving as an aid to the Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne Leclerq.

The summit, which has attracted undead power players from all over the central United States, is sure to be tense. Accused of murdering her husband, the King of Arkansas, Sophie-Anne is set to stand trial at the convention. The Queen is already in a precarious position, her power base weakened by the damage to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, and there are some vampires who would like to finish what nature started. Sophie-Anne's main accuser is Jennifer Cater, a vampire who had been training to be the king's lieutenant at the time of his death. Jennifer is determined to see Sophie-Anne staked in the sun for murdering the king, although Sookie knows the Queen is innocent of the crime.

Sophie-Anne plans to put Sookie's gift to good use, having her "listen in" on the thoughts of the humans working for the other vampires at the convention as well as for the hotel itself, as alliances are formed and allegiances tested in what can only be described as a political power struggle of potentially deadly implications. Instead, Jennifer Cater is found slaughtered, and Sookie discovers a plot that could put all the undead -- and Sookie herself -- in mortal danger.

As with most long-running series, it's probably a good idea to have read at least one or two of Harris's previous Sookie books to keep up with the numerous and divergent characters in Sookie's world, including the dangerous Andre, Sophie-Anne's most loyal lieutenant, Eric, the vampire sheriff of the region where Sookie lives in northern Louisiana, Pam, Eric's second in command, and Bill, Sookie's former longtime vampire love, all of whom have accompanied the Queen and Sookie to the convention. Also introduced is Sookie's new love interest, the very handsome and sexy shapeshifter Quinn, a notorious weretiger who is in charge of arranging the summit's events, as well as her roommate Amelia, a witch who has been displaced from New Orleans by the hurricane and has accidentally turned her lover into a cat.

In spite of some humorous and even a few tender moments, there is violence at the heart of this installment, and a deeper sense of foreboding throughout the book. But the climactic moment is an even bigger shock than the events leading up to it would imply. Sookie is forced to make some serious choices, some of which could alter her future dramatically.

One of the things I love most about Sookie is her constantly running inner monologue. Harris does an outstanding job, in this as in the previous books, of taking us right into Sookie's head -- as well as the heads of those whose minds she's reading. Her fears and insecurities, in contrast with her self-confidence and her own increasing sense of how much she's worth to the vampires, make her a thoroughly human and delightfully enchanting character. ALL TOGETHER DEAD explores even further an equally enchanting world, where even Sookie learns that nothing is beyond imagination.

Reviewed by J.B. Thompson, March 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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