Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"A Touch of Dead" by Charlaine Harris

This is being billed as "Sookie Stackhouse: the complete stories", and as I've read the entire series, I was excited to pick this up. Not for long, though. Turns out there are only five short stories in this small, short, and altogether overpriced book. Even worse, I realized when reading the introduction by Harris that I'd already read two of the five stories. Sigh.

"Fairy Dust" starts off the quintet. Sookie is contacted by Claudine, a fairy that often frequents Merlotte's Bar, to investigate the death of her sister, Claudette. When Sookie agrees, she learns that Claudine is a triplet; Claudette and Claude are the other siblings. Claude and Claudette worked at a strip club, and Claude and Claudine are convinced that someone at the club murdered Claudette. Sookie's job is to use her telepathic powers on the three employees the fairies have kidnapped and thus suss out the culprit. This story first appeared in Powers of Detection, and it felt very familiar. Probably read it there or in a reprint somewhere.

"Dracula Night" is one I do remember previously reading. It's "Trueblood" meets "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and hottie vamp Eric is stuck playing Linus. It's a cute little story, even if it casts Eric in a most unflattering light. This originally appeared in the anthology Many Bloody Returns, which was a pretty good book, if memory serves me correctly.

"One Word Answer" is the first time we meet creepy lawyer Mr. Cataliades. He comes to Bon Temp to inform Sookie of her cousin Hadley's death (she had gone vamp after running away from home several years earlier). He also informs her that she has inherited her cousin's estate. Sookie has a lot of questions about how Hadley died, and queries Mr. Cataliades driver, another vampire named Waldo. In the end, Sookie solves the mystery and meets a very important person in the vampire world. First appeared in Bite.

"Lucky" was a good little story, one that I didn't remember reading before. Surprisingly enough, it deals with an insurance agent and the whole idea of balance. It seemed like a mystery at first, but I really liked the way Harris wrapped it up. First appeared in the collection Unusual Suspects, which I don't recall reading (which doesn't mean anything, as I real a lot!)

Finally, we have "Gift Wrap" which first appeared in a great anthology called Wolfsbane and Mistletoe. It's an OK story, but on reading it for a second time, I found myself thinking that Sookie was, well, rather slutty here. It just didn't ring true the second time around. Still, not a horrible story.

So, here's the thing - if you're collecting the Southern Vampire books, yes, I would probably recommend buying this. Try your best to find it on sale, though, because at $23.95, I really do feel that full retail value is too much to spend on such a small book. This really could have been done as a trade paperback, thus saving the buyer probably anywhere from $5-$10. Better yet, if you're not collecting the books, just borrow this from your local library. It won't take much more than two hours or so to read the whole thing!

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