Less than a month after finding her brother Jason a were-panther, Sookie and Jason are dealing with his new supernatural powers. Little time is made for adjustment, though, when someone starts shooting at the area's shape-shifting community. Sookie has to find out who has shot her boss, Sam, and the leader of the were-panther community, Calvin Norris, because her brother is once again prime suspect when it comes to the shootings. One piece of information she has over the Bon Temps police force, however, is that all of the victims are shape-shifters, who, unlike vampires, keep a low profile.
As if this weren't enough for Sookie to deal with, she also has her romantic life to deal with. For someone who was solidly single for her entire life before meeting ex-boyfriend Bill, Sookie is quite sought after by the supernatural bachelors of Louisiana. All are intrigued by her telepathic nature, something that scared off "normal" human beaus. The count is pretty overwhelming for Sookie: Sam, her boss; Alcide, the werewolf; Calvin Norris; and multiple vampires. But as she's dealing with conflicting emotions and the discovery of being used by many of these men for her abilities, she meets another shape-shifter who I have no doubt will be in future books.
Other plot-points in the book include her friend Tara's relationship with Mickey the vampire, as well as more intrigue in the Shreveport wolf-pack. When their pack leader is killed, the pack must find a new leader, and Alcide's intentions towards Sookie are less than gentlemanly. Add on top of this a house fire and more attempts on Sookie's life, and the book is packed solid for the entire three hundred pages.
The supernatural world of Bon Temps is becoming larger and larger with each installment. At times it becomes confusing trying to keep all of it in my head, but Harris has been very good about keeping the new information to a minimum. One thing that I dislike about series is the constant regurgitation of information from one book to another. (I remember skipping entire chapters of Baby-sitters Club books when I was ten, and complaining to my mom that I thought it was stupid.) But with all the recurring characters in the book, the information Harris reviews sounds natural in Sookie's first person narration, and I'm quite thankful for it!
Harris also keeps her world very real and humorous. My favorite part of the book is when Claude the fairy picks up Sookie from the hospital. A surly and (hopefully for Sookie) bisexual fairy that exudes charisma and hotness, Claude is the twin brother of Sookie's fairy godmother, Claudine.
Claude had been a stripper on ladies' night at Hooligan's, c club in Monroe, but lately he'd not only moved into managing the club, he'd also branched into print and runway modeling. The opportunities for such work were few and far between in northern Louisiana, so Claude had decided to compete for Mr. Romance at a romance reader's convention. He'd even had his ears surgically alters so they weren't pointed anymore. The big payoff was the chance to appear on a romance cover. I didn't know too much about the contest, but I knew what I saw when I looked at Claude. I felt pretty confident Claude would win by acclamation.Of course, Sookie becomes involved in even that.
My favorite books in the series have involved the shape-shifters and have taken place in Bon Temps. Harris' characters in the Bon Temps area are real and interesting, but when Sookie was in Dallas and Jackson in previous books I was less than impressed. Unfortunately, with future books, I have a feeling that Sookie will be traveling because Eric will be hiring her for a job.
And I'm disappointed over the whole Alcide thing, because I love him as a character, but he treated Sookie horribly in this book. Oh, well. I have three more books in the series to read. And if he's ever cast in True Blood, I have some ideas, folks at HBO.
A. (Though not A for Alcide.)
Sidenote: I am completely unhappy with the guy playing Andy Bellefleur in True Blood. He looks like a detective, but I was expecting someone more... well, someone more.