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In Club Dead, the third book in the series, Sookie finally get seriously introduced to the shapeshifting community. Unfortunately, she only does so when Vampire Bill goes missing and she has to chase him down. Plus, there’s a dance routine, a hot new man, and a dead body in the closet. Spoilers to follow…

If you, like me, have spent the first two books rolling your eyes every time horny ol’ Bill Compton showed up, then here is the book for you. Bill and Sookie’s relationship has deteriorated considerably, because as it turns out, Bill is a computer geek and a huge workaholic. He’s been working on a “secret” project for the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, though Sookie rightly intuits, and I’ll spoil for you now, that it’s an enormous vampire database, tracking location, bloodlines, etc. It’s pretty cool. Bill is sitting around being all secretive with Sookie, hiding his software at her house, and telling her that if anything happens to him, she should “go to” Eric. Sookie feels a bit like she’s being passed around as a possession. But it’s cool – Bill leaves town on “business” and then Eric shows up to tell Sookie that Bill has in fact gone missing.

Oh, not just missing-missing. They are pretty sure he’s been kidnapped by the King of Mississippi, and is being tortured for information on his Secret Project. Best part is, he actually ran away, so he could go and bang his maker, Lorena. The Queen of Louisiana doesn’t know he’s missing, and he can’t still be missing by the time his secret project is due, or all of the Area 5 vampires will be punished. Not to mention, Louisiana will likely go to war with Mississippi. Sookie agrees to go to Jackson and do some reconnaissance, but her price is that Lorena doesn’t make it out of this alive. Sookie is hardcore, y’all, do not fuck with her.

The greatest/worst thing the TV show True Blood has ever done is cast Joe Manganiello as Alcide Herveaux. Because it’s hard to not get this face out of my mind any time I read Alcide’s scenes, which is usually not a problem with these books. But let’s be real, you were gonna be thinking it, too, so let’s just get it all in the open. Take a moment to stare at his face. Do yourself a favor, do an image search for Alcide Herveaux. I’ll wait. It’s worth it.

Where was I? Oh yes. Alcide Herveaux is a member of the Shreveport pack (Werewolves), and a contractor who has dealings (and an apartment) in Jackson, and can get Sookie in with Mississippi king Russell Edgington and his crowd, so Sookie can investigate. Alcide’s dad Jackson is a gambler who owes money to the vampires, so Alcide is doing this favor for some debt forgiveness. Alcide’s pretty solid, though. He’s living and breathing, he eats and helps out around the house, and Sookie finds she likes him quite a bit. She can also help him out a bit – the club they’re going to also happens to be hosting his ex-girlfriend Debbie Pelt’s engagement party. Sookie is willing to play the part of jealousy-inducing arm candy. And Debbie immediately hates her, even though Debbie is there engaged to another man. She tells Sookie that Alcide must have rented her for the evening. It’s a rough scene.

But not as rough as when Alcide goes to the bathroom and a Were at the club tries to get handsy with Sookie. It’s a whole thing, he gets ejected, and Sookie conveniently runs into Russell Edgington, who apologizes and invites her back to the club the following night, which is exactly what Sookie wanted, because she heard Russell’s human companion thinking about the vampire they have locked up in the pool house (Bill).

The next day, Alcide and Sookie find the handsy Were in question dead in Alcide’s closet. They know it’s gonna get blamed on them, so they wrap him in a shower curtain and bury him in the woods. I told you, Sookie is hardcore. The mystery of who killed the Were and left him there lasts the book, but I’ll tell you now: it was Bubba (a.k.a., Elvis), who was operating very literally on Eric’s earlier instructions to watch and protect Sookie. The Were was coming back to fuck with her, Bubba got to him first, put him in the closet, didn’t think to tell anyone. Mystery solved!

Anyway, they go back to Club Dead, where Sookie runs into her childhood friend Tara, who is there with vampire Franklin Mott. Sookie is listening in on stuff, trying to find out more information about Bill, when she hears a fanatic’s thoughts as he’s about to stake someone, and she jumps in just in time to save the vampire, but gets staked herself. Russell, who might be torturing Bill for information about his super secret Louisiana project, is still a decent enough host that he takes Sookie back to his mansion (accompanied by Eric in disguise as Alcide’s “friend”), where she’s invited to stay the night to recuperate and leave the next morning. You know, when all of the vampires will be asleep. It’s basically a free pass for a rescue mission, provided she survive the Were guards. Eric arranges a getaway car and peaces out, but not before making Sookie drink his blood. Which, we’ve mentioned before, gives the drinker added strength.

Sookie finds Bill in the pool house, but she also finds Lorena. Even though she got Eric’s assurance that Lorena would die no matter the consequences (which, a vampire killing another vampire, the only consequences generally are “a hefty fine”), Sookie ends up staking Lorena and tossing her into the pool. SOOKIE IS HARDCORE, y’all. So much respect. She tosses Bill in the trunk of the getaway car and takes him back to Alcide’s apartment garage, where she promptly gets shut in the trunk. In the dark. With a vampire who’s been starved of blood for an unspecified amount of time. Obviously she lives, but it’s not a great situation. Especially since blood and sex are tied together for most vampires. Bill takes blood and starts to assault her before he starts to come to, as it were. He is terribly contrite, and Sookie doesn’t blame him, since it isn’t exactly his fault. I mean, so she claims. I still find it sketchy.

Anyway, everyone makes it back to Bon Temps, and the Mississippi vampires aren’t even all that mad, since Eric negotiates to get Bubba to sing for them. So, even in death, Elvis solves all problems.

And the bullet points:
Does anyone new get introduced that in theory will come up later as a recurring character?
Alcide Herveaux, werewolf and contractor. And his ex-girlfriend, shifter Debbie Pelt, who is pretty much the worst. EVEN WORSE THAN ANDY BELLEFLEUR. Franklin Mott, vampire. Russell Edgington, King of Mississippi.

Does Sookie get laid and/or romantically propositioned? (And by whom?)
Eric grinds on her. Alcide does not grind on her, but really wants to.

Does anyone wind up dead?
Lorena, the boyfriend-thieving and subsequent boyfriend-torturing vampire, gets hella staked.

Does Sookie get injured in some capacity?
No hospital stays or ER visits this time! Sookie does end up getting staked in the kidney, like you do, but she stays in Edgington’s guest suite, so no pesky insurance paperwork.

Is Andy Bellefleur a pain in the ass?
Andy Bellefleur isn’t even in this. But you know what, he probably is.

Sookie Paramours: Who Wore It Best?
Well Bill has established himself as a total asshole, so screw him. Eric has a little bit of fun with Sookie, but she puts a stop to that, and honestly, the timing is inappropriate and creepy, so I’m not super thrilled with him, either. This book is mainly designed to set up Alcide so that every time you see his name, you see glitter and hear a heavenly chorus.

WHEN NEXT WE MEET, Eric loses his memory and some witches ruin everyone’s day.