The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a.k.a. the Sookie Stackhouse series, is not exceptionally well-written. Like, at all. And yet somehow this series keeps chugging along, Charlaine Harris is under contract for at least two to three more books, there's a hugely popular HBO show based on it, and most importantly... I read them. And I am a self-admitted sorta-book snob.
Dead in the Family is like the 53rd book in this series (okay, okay... it's the tenth. Eleventh if you include the collection of craptacular short stories). As it is a series, it's a continuation of what happened in the last few books: The Vampire territory of Louisiana is in turmoil, Sookie is still recovering from the torture inflicted on her by a few really screwed up fairies, and Eric is... well... still hot. Oh, and someone is pissed at Sookie and wants to kill her. Because each book features a new someone out to kill the Sookster.
Anyway, ever since its release about two weeks ago, I've been hearing snippets about this book, and they have all been bad things. That made me sad because even though the series is borderline ridiculous, it's still highly entertaining and full of awesomesauce such as sexy vampires, insanely hot male fairy strippers who pose for romance novel covers, and even Undead Elvis. Who doesn't love Undead Elvis?!?
So point being, I started reading this book with the knowledge that while it would be entertaining for me, it would probably suck all-in-all. But I am happy to report that it did NOT totally suck! I liked it better than Dead and Gone (Sookie book #9), so that was its first thumbs up. The book also introduced another famous undead person, which is thumbs up #2, because let's face it: I love going to Wikipedia and looking up photos of said person and trying to imagine him or her as a vampire. It's pretty awesome entertainment for me. I also like that there was a nice all-around focus on the supes in general. No focusing just on the vampires or just on the weres or just on the fairies. We got some diversity in this one, and that was fun.
There were a few downsides to the book, unfortunately. The first was that there was a lot of filler. I don't need to hear about every meal Sookie eats. I was also not a fan of one particular storyline, though obviously that is personal preference. I also felt that this did not follow a good novel format. What I mean by this is that the book started with one storyline, but then that one was left rather loose as two new ones took over. In other words, the book was all over the place it seemed. It almost felt as though someone asked Charlaine Harris to produce a book with a set number of words, but when she finished her first draft said, "Oh, crap! I'm about 50,000 words too short. I better add a few snippets of a storyline over here, and no one will notice if I totally neglect it and disregard it until the next novel. And I also better describe Sookie's meals in a little more detail to add a couple thousand over there. Uh oh, I'm still short though! Well, I guess I can throw a couple scenes in with this character. And that ought to do it!"
All in all, if you dig the series, read this one. But don't read them out of order or you will be so incredibly lost.