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As we get into the final stretch of this series, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not thrilled to be nearly done. While Harris has built Bon Temps as a remarkably self-sustaining and richly populated world, it’s getting harder for me to keep track of all the random vampires and werewolves that keep popping up. And I keep nodding off during all the fairy parts. Deadlocked is the twelfth and penultimate book in the series, and the stakes have never been higher. Well, they probably have been. And I can’t believe it took me twelve books to make a stake joke. Spoilers to follow…

When we open, Sookie is at her cousin Claude’s strip club Hooligans for Ladies’ Night with Tara, Kennedy, Holly, and Jason’s girlfriend Michele. (In opening this book for my flip-through, I stumbled upon this acknowledgement I had never noticed before: “My sincere gratitude to Stefan Diamante of Body Roxx for his Male Strippers 101 course.” Did not know that was A Thing.) Sookie’s friends are all a little creepy about how hot Claude is, which is something that Sookie has brought up often enough to also be creepy, because he IS her cousin, even if it’s removed once or twice, and magical. But I digress. The real drama at Hooligans is when one of the strippers comes onstage and it turns out to be JB du Rone, husband of the very pregnant Tara. He is stripping for extra cash because having twins is gonna be expensive, but Tara had no idea, so the whole thing is super awkward. To skip ahead a little, they get over their dispute, and Tara has the babies: a boy named Robert and a girl named Sara Sookie, which is actually really freaking touching. (I mean, Sookie DID save Tara’s life that one time.)

The main mystery this time around is the death of Kym Rowe. If you don’t recognize that name, it is not your fault for not paying attention and not my fault for lackluster blogging (although I am guilty of that on occasion): she has never existed before this party. Eric is throwing a soiree at his house for Nevada/Louisiana king Felipe de Castro, who’s in town following his underling Victor Madden’s unfortunate death. The Louisiana vamps are clinging to the party line that they have no idea what happened to Victor. Eric is trying to play good host and butter up Felipe. This means that what Sookie thinks is gonna be more of a wine-and-cheese gathering (well, blood and… blood), ends up being a dancing on the tables gathering. (Eric loves that table, it was featured in Louisiana Interiors, and he and Sookie are pissed about the gouges in the wood.) Mustapha Khan, Eric’s new daytime guy, had been trying to get both Sookie and Pam out of the house, for reasons unknown. When they go to find Eric in his room, he’s feeding off of Kym Rowe. Sookie, who obviously knows that Eric feeds off of others, is hella pissed that he would do it at a party he personally insisted she attend, in the bed that they share. Legit. But something is amiss: Eric is clearly drunk off of this encounter, and the only thing that would make a vampire act drunkenly is fairy blood. Not to mention that a single person is able to explain how Kym got there or who invited her. Someone has drugged Kym’s blood and used her to entice Eric. The trio order Kym out of the house, then have to go downstairs and have a Serious Conversation with Felipe about Victor’s death. Sorry, “disappearance”. Felipe, confronted with the fact that Eric had filed the occasional complaint about Victor and his businesses, throws his underling Horst under the bus, claiming that Horst never passed on the messages, thus relieving Felipe of all liability for Victor’s actions. Before this ruse can go any further, Bill shows up and lets them know that there is a dead girl in the front yard. It’s Kym, obviously, and also the cops are here. They of course think Eric did it, because it’s his house and his fangs and the whatnot.

Meanwhile, but directly related, after Sookie lent Sam a large chunk of change to keep the bar afloat in the last book, Sam has been treating her as part owner. That means a bit more money and a lot more responsibility. Sookie loves this, and it’s great for Sam, but his girlfriend Jannalynn isn’t particularly thrilled. She’s convinced Sookie is after Sam. Also, Mustapha’s friend Warren has gone missing (Warren was a sniper at the big Elvis concert, so he is a potential witness in the whole ‘Whatever Happened to Vampire Victor?’ thing), and it turns out Jannalynn was holding him in exchange for Mustapha’s cooperation at Felipe’s party, to get Pam and Sookie in the right place at the right time.

After a novel’s worth of half-assed investigation on the part of Alcide and skulduggery on the part of Mustapha, the two finally join forces just in time to rescue Sookie, who has been kidnapped by some rogue wolves (who all for various reasons are denied access to the Long Tooth pack and want revenge on Alcide) that Jannalynn sicced on her. Jannalynn was the one who got Kym into Eric’s house, but the whole of it was done under Claude’s orders. This does not bode well for Claude’s future happy life among humans. It turns out he was trying to incite the remaining fae to rebel against Niall, and was hoping that by putting Sookie in danger, Niall would come through to the human world to help her, thus exposing himself as a target. It sort of works: Niall does come through, but the other fae have rebelled against Claude in the meantime. Niall decides to take all the remaining fae back home through the portal, and seal it up for realsies this time. He’s going to punish Claude. THEN EVERYONE LEAVES. IT’S SO GREAT. I DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS SHIT ANYMORE.

I’ll get back to this in a bit, but let’s quickly solve the murder: when Eric didn’t actually lose control and drain Kym, Jannalynn murdered her so she wouldn’t talk. Alcide, as part of Pack Justice, gets her to call up the cops and confess, to spare Eric.

Sookie receives a series of unexpected visitors. One is Freyda, the Queen of Oklahoma, showing up for a little meet and greet, to find out why on earth this human is the only thing keeping Eric from saying yes flat-out to a very advantageous marriage. She’s well-researched: she knows about all of the supernatural folk Sookie has killed, and Sookie figures Freyda is upping her estimation of Sookie as a credible threat (not that Sookie is stupid enough to go after a queen, knowing what she knows of vamp politics – even if she was magically successful in any takedown attempt, the way the vampire system is organized would not really let her survive with her victory), which is probably not great for Sookie in the long run.

Another guest is Donald Callaway, one of the owners of the antiques shop to whom Sookie sold a bunch of stuff in the attic. Turns out Callaway had gone through Sookie’s things when he found the secret drawer containing the cluviel dor, read Gran’s letter, did a cursory Google search after the fact, and is now trying to finagle it back from Sookie. Sookie, being A, decently smart and B, a freaking telepath, sees right through all of this and isn’t about to give the cluviel dor up. Callaway decides to go after her with Mace and a knife, but Mr. Cataliades shows up at the right time (he was on the run from hellhounds, by the by) and they murder the guy together, partially with boiling water. Sookie’s kitchen, in its many incarnations, has seen a lot of death, and she should really go into business as some sort of supernatural cleanup crew.

Then it’s Sookie’s birthday! She goes to meet with a lawyer and make a will, which is impressive for an unmarried woman in her late twenties, but really overdue if you consider how many times Sook has had a brush with death. Her ex Quinn (you know, the weretiger) calls, which is really nice of him to remember her birthday given that they weren’t even dating around her last birthday. He is with a weretigress now, and they’re about to have a child, but she kinda used him to get pregnant and has now left. Also, his mom’s dead. It’s a real bummer of a call. But it’s okay, because Sam lures Sookie to the bar under false work pretenses, having thrown her a surprise party. Her friends all get her nice gifts, although Sam gives her an envelope that she’s not allowed to open until later. Turns out he has legally named her part-owner of the bar, and a third of Merlotte’s is hers. Sam is a pretty baller friend.

Eric, Pam, and Bill surprise Sookie at her house after dinner, and Eric sums up her relationship with all of them thus: “[I] suppose, as usual, Bill will want to express his undying love that surpasses my love, as he’ll tell you – and Pam will want to say something sarcastic and nearly painful, while reminding you that she loves you, too.” Eric’s a little salty re: both his underlings, but also it’s the most accurate assessment of Bill and Pam. Pam of course Pams her birthday greetings: “I never thought I’d want to spend time with a human, but you’re more tolerable than most. I hope no one hurts you on your birthday.” I fucking love Pam, I will miss her most of all.

In any case, Eric keeps insinuating to Sookie that she can stop his impending nuptials to the Queen of Oklahoma, but she can’t figure out how a human with absolutely no political power can do jack – until she realizes that he knows about the cluviel dor and is hoping that she’ll use her incredibly rare gift to wish him free of his dad’s marriage contract. It’s kind of a dick move, worse that he can’t even be upfront in admitting he knows or asking outright. And it’s a dick move that doesn’t even work, because…

Alcide calls up Sookie: the pack found Jannalynn and is going to administer Pack Justice, and as the wronged parties, Eric, Sookie, and Sam have a right to be there. Which is all well and good, but no one takes into consideration that Jannalynn is a bit of a loose cannon, and also really likes hurting people. Pack Justice this time around is letting Mustapha and Jannalynn go at each other with swords, which seems absurd because they are both werewolves (and it’s nighttime! Although I guess not the full moon?), and at the last second, Jannalynn decides she might as well make one last ditch attempt to be packmaster, and goes for Alcide instead. Except Sookie shouts out a warning, Alcide ducks, and Jannalynn stabs Sam by mistake. Mustapha beheads Jannalynn, Sookie runs to Sam’s side, wondering if she can get Eric to give him blood, which is the only way one really survives death in this universe, but she barely gets to Sam before he actually dies.

Damn.

Fortunately, Sookie has been carrying the cluviel dor around with her everyone in a heightened state of paranoia, and she uses its magic to save Sam’s life. Great for Sam, confusing for everyone at the pack meeting who has no idea what is happening, and not super swell for Eric, who was using this as both a test of Sookie’s love and a get out of jail free card. And that’s how it ends!

And the bullet points:
-Does Sookie get laid and/or romantically propositioned? (And by whom?)
Sookie gets a bit anti-propositioned, if that’s even a thing, given that her boyfriend has yet to figure out if he’s going to leave her to marry a vampire. I mean, Bill makes his usual bid at loving Sookie more than Eric does, and while we should never forget that Bill only dated Sookie because the then-Queen of Louisiana told him to, he has maintained a through-line for the past twelve books of being in love with Sookie no matter what. And you can tell things are pretty dire when I don’t hate Bill that much. (His birthday present to Sookie was a cameo necklace in the likeness of her Gran – that’s solid.)

–Does anyone wind up dead?
Jannalynn, getting her out of the way of Sookie and Sam’s lurve. I only half-jest. Sam, whose revival from death is definitely a point in favor of their lurve. Someone else gets murdered in Sookie’s house, par for the course.

–Does Sookie get injured in some capacity?
Sook gets half-kidnapped, but for the most part is unscathed physically. Emotionally, she’s a bit all over the place, but that’s to be expected.

WHEN NEXT WE MEET, a deal with a devil, the return of several of Sookie’s roommates, and Sookie finally gets arrested for murder.

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