The latest novel in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Deadlocked, arrives in stores on May 1. We were privileged to receive advance copies several weeks ago, and we’ve been talking amongst ourselves ever since! Today we’re sharing our reviews with you to whet your appetite for the penultimate book in the series.
We’re keeping spoilers to a minimum so we don’t ruin any of the twists, turns, or surprises, but there are some minor spoilers ahead. If you’re saying spoiler-free, then click away now!
After the cliffhangers we were left with in Dead Reckoning, I was both excited and a little anxious about Deadlocked. What would happen between Eric and Sookie? How would the Cluviel Dor impact Sookie’s life? What was the point of all those faeries (and elves) congregating at Hooligan’s? How would Charlaine Harris begin to wrap up Sookie’s story in this, the second to last book?
With all of those thoughts in mind, I sat down with Deadlocked and didn’t emerge until hours later, totally entertained and delighted with this installment of Sookie’s adventures. Charlaine ties up a few storylines and sets up the end game for the final novel (Dead Ever After, coming May 2013), leaving us with a pretty significant cliffhanger that ought to keep fans speculating for the next year.
The plot here is a good old fashioned murder mystery that ends up being far more complicated than it appears at first glance. A woman is found dead on Eric’s front lawn, after the big Viking was seen drinking from her during a party thrown by King Felipe and his band of revelers. Sookie must grapple with her feelings about seeing Eric drinking from another woman (she knew he had other sources of blood, but seeing is different than knowing) as she tries to help unravel the mystery of the woman’s death. But that’s not the only mystery occupying her mind.
Jannalynn, Sam’s girlfriend and Alcide’s second in command, is acting suspicious and Sookie is concerned for her friend. Is the female were up to no good, or could Sookie be misinterpreting her actions? In addition, Niall returns and the mystery of Dermot’s insanity is finally addressed. Tara’s husband, J.B., has a secret of his own that Sookie isn’t sure how to handle, especially with Tara pretty much minutes away from giving birth to twins. The activity at Claude’s bar, Hooligan’s, is also causing Sookie some restless nights as she tries to make sense of it all, and in the middle of everything, she’s trying to find some answers about the Cluviel Dor.
Charlaine deftly balances all of these storylines (and more!), revealing clues and resolving questions at just the right moments to keep the plot moving forward, but still building to a climactic twist that had me on the edge of my seat. The way she intertwines all of these things Sookie is juggling, both the life-and-death crises and the daily job of being her, is a pleasure to behold. I found it interesting that despite everything that’s happening, and it’s a lot, the pace of this book is noticeably slower than previous novels. It takes place in high summer, and the pacing helps reflect those languid summer days in the South, but I think it’s also indicative of Sookie’s mental and emotional maturity.
Since the books are from Sookie’s perspective, we are privy to her thoughts and feelings about various people, events, and circumstances. She’s learning to respond rather than react. Here, we see her thinking through some pretty major issues in various aspects of her life: love, family, career, her future. She is both older (she celebrates a birthday) and wiser, and it shows.
We don’t get as much of the other characters’ stories as we do on True Blood, because it’s a first person narrative, but Sookie certainly isn’t alone in her adventures! Eric is trying to handle a possible murder charge, King Felipe’s suspicions about Victor’s death, the Queen of Oklahoma’s pursuit of him to be her consort, and his relationship with Sookie. Bill aids Sookie with her investigation, and their friendship is both sweet and humorous. One of my favorite scenes in the book involves Bill, Sookie, Eric, and Pam. It’s laugh out loud funny. Pam isn’t as present here because her duties keep her away for the most part, but she does get in a couple of good comments.
Alcide has a much larger role than I expected, giving him a chance to atone for that appearance in his briefs in the last book. *shudder* Quinn also makes a cameo, neatly tying up his storyline. (If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading “Small-Town Wedding” in The Sookie Stackhouse Companion to be up to speed on Quinn.) Sookie spends some extra time with Tara and J.B. as they prepare for and welcome their twins, and Jason has some news of his own to share with his sister. Sam has a somewhat larger role than usual, too, now that Sookie is a partner in Merlotte’s.
In the end, as I said above, Deadlocked left me happy and satisfied, and very excited to see what happens next. Being a part of Sookie’s life for the last 11 years has been fun, sad, scary, moving, and sometimes hilarious. I’m looking forward to the final chapter.
Before I delve into my review of the newest edition to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, let me just remind everyone once again that I am a huge fan of Sookie’s. I liked her sense of humor and snark in the first book, and I’ve enjoyed watching her journey to this point in the stories. It’s all been fun and sad and exciting and painful, all at different intervals and sometimes at the same time.
Deadlocked is the penultimate book in the series, with only one more left to conclude Sookie’s journey. We see a more thoughtful, less impulsive Sookie and it seems to me as though her recent experiences, since the night Bill Compton first walked into Merlotte’s, have grown our girl up. Deadlocked is a slower moving book then some of the previous ones. A lot of information is revealed and the faeire story line is brought to a conclusion for good.
Sookie is still acknowledging her love for Eric, even after the arranged marriage with the Queen of Oklahoma that we learned about in Dead Reckoning. She believes there will be a way for him to get out of that marriage. One of the things I’ve always liked about Sookie is that she hopes for the best, even if all evidence points to the contrary.
In the beginning of Deadlocked, Sookie is invited (almost forced) to attend a party at Eric’s house given for Felipe and his travelling band. (They really are all a bunch of clowns and puppets meant to do his bidding or decorate his arms.) She discovers Eric off in a room, feeding from a girl who is later found murdered on his front lawn. Eric is acting drunk from this girl’s blood and there can only be one explanation for that – she has taken faerie blood to make herself more irresistible to Eric.
As the police begin their investigation, the suspect list is ridiculously long, but at the top of that list is Eric. Bill begins his own investigation and Sookie provides whatever help she can. The two make a great team, which brings to mind their relationship as it stands. Bill was Sookie’s first love. They broke up when Sookie discovered Bill’s deceit and it’s been a long road, but he has redeemed himself enough for the two of them to have the sweetest friendship. I love this Bill/Sookie dynamic. He still loves her and probably always will, and she loves him too, only as a very close friend with whom she has shared some really bad times and some really good times. It’s as honest a friendship as these two can have, and I think that each has benefited from the other and changed one another for the better.
Alcide is very involved in this story and helps with the investigation as well, when it’s discovered that weres may have been involved in this murder.
Jannalynn is still dating Sam, but Sookie is very unhappy about it because she doesn’t trust her. Jannalynn is Alcide’s muscle but it’s become clear to Sookie that she is a dangerous person. She believes that Janalynn is using Sam but doesn’t know why, and she’s very worried about him.
Sam has made Sookie his partner at Merlotte’s because of the money she gave him to rebuild after the attack on the place. Sam can also see that Sookie has a head for business and she keeps him organized. She always has. This also elevates their relationship from employer/employee.
As the story unravels, not only do we get a conclusion to the faerie storyline (yes, Niall returns), but we get a brief and final visit from Quinn, who is having drama of his own, but away from Sookie. Mr. Cataliades pays another visit to Sookie and reveals more of her story and the history of the Cluviel Dor. We also find out who was chasing him in Dead Reckoning and why. The Queen of Oklahoma also pays Sookie a visit, to size up her competition and see why Eric is so resistant to becoming her consort.
In the midst of this, Sookie has a birthday, which is a mixture of sad and happy, because nothing is ever smooth-sailing for The Sook. Jason puts in an appearance as well and I think he’s finally got his head on straight and is moving his life in a positive direction. Tara has her twins and finds out a secret that her husband, JB, is keeping.
The murder mystery has a surprising conclusion. I think I was more surprised by the motive for it than who actually did the deed. Eric and Sookie’s relationship changes once again, and at the last page of the book, we are left with a nice lift off to the finale.