Nightmare in Bon Temps

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Dead as a Doornail

Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her share of experience with the supernatural—but now it’s really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a werepanther for the first time—a transformation he embraces more readily than most shape-shifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks—unless the killer decides to find her first…

Sookie driving Jason out to Hotshot on the night of the first full moon since he was rescued from Felton’s shed is our first introduction to this book. He’s excited and nervous about his first change; Sookie is just relieved he doesn’t have to go through it alone. Who could blame her; she’s been learning things alone since Bill walked into her life.

“But even what I become is amazing. You feel the magic inside you, and you feel your bones moving around and adapting, and your vision changes. Then you’re lower to the ground and you walk in a whole different way, and as for running, damn, you can run. You can chase….” And his voice died away.

Sookie goes into work; Merlotte’s has a new cook named Sweetie. Later that night Sookie’s friend Tara enters with a new vampire. Sookie has a bad feeling about Tara’s new escort, Mickey, and he doesn’t seem to like her too much either. The full moon is causing more than the shifters to get agitated, after Sam takes off to run free in the night, Sookie is forced to break up a bar fight between a local and a college kid. No sooner are they escorted out of the bar then a drainer walks in trying to sell her last three vials of blood. Sookie cons the dealer into getting out of her jacket and Sookie takes the vials and hands them to Terry to throw away. Then the dealer is thrown out of the bar.

Claudine stops in the bar the next night with some dire news, and just as everything seemed to be normal in Bon Temps, there’s been a shooting. Calvin Norris is in the hospital after being shot on his way to work that morning. Another shape-shifter by the name of Heather Kinman was also shot, hers was fatal. As Sookie and Sam were locking up the bar at closing Sookie turns around to say something to Sam only to find blood everywhere.

Sookie gets Sam to the hospital and while he is recovering from his gunshot wound to his leg Sookie goes to Eric to ask a favor. While at Fangtasia she notices and talks to the new bartender, Charles. When she’s finally able to speak with Eric he still tries to get information out of her regarding his time spent in her house. Sookie isn’t budging on telling him because she’s afraid he’ll hold it against her and she’ll be in his debt.

As Connie the Corpse introduced the next song (“One of These Nights”), Eric examined my face. “I wish that I could read your mind as you can read the minds of others,” he said. “I wish very much that I could know what was going on in your head. I wish I knew why I cared what’s going on in that head.”

Sookie asks Eric if he can supply a bartender/bouncer for Merlotte’s while Sam is recuperating. Eric agrees, but Sam will owe him a favor in return; Sookie calls Sam to make sure the terms are okay by him and passes onto Eric the terms are acceptable. Eric assigns the new bartender, Charles, to carry out the favor. Eric put Charles in Sookie’s charge, Charles is to answer to Sookie; which Sookie objects to but Eric makes it plain that Charles is to report to Sookie and Sookie doesn’t argue anymore. Eric asks Sookie to dance and while they dance Sookie asks Eric about Mickey. Eric warns Sookie to stay away from Mickey; Sookie says she can’t because of Tara. Eric tells Sookie that she needs to stay away from Tara because Mickey is bad news.

On the drive back to Bon Temps, Sookie and Charles begin to talk. Charles asks about the previous bartenders at Fangtasia; Sookie tells him she was present when all of them died. She explains that Chow died during the Witch War and Eric staked Long Shadow for embezzling from the bar.

“You’re sure that’s why Eric staked him? For embezzling?”
“I was there. I oughta know. End of subject.”

Charles asks about where he’ll be spending the daylight hours and then about the circumstances surrounding why he’s going to act as bouncer. Sookie explains about the shootings. They arrive at Sam’s house and Sam is a foul mood. He snaps at Sookie and Sookie leaves in a huff; leaving Charles with Sam to deal with. For the first time, Sookie has a disagreement with Sam and I can think of is a lover’s quarrel because they weren’t really mad just feeling the poor pitiful me so commonly associated with quarrels.

Sookie goes with Jason to visit Calvin the hospital. There she meets Dawson for the first time. While visiting with Calvin, he drops a bomb on Sookie…

“Some of my people wonder if the shooter is someone who’s a shifter,” Calvin said. His fingers tightened around mine. “Someone who didn’t want to become a shifter in the first place. Someone who was bitten.”

Sookie begs Calvin to save Jason. He lets her know that he’s done what he can to save Jason’s life against execution, but Sookie learns from reading minds that some are still in favor of Jason’s execution.

Sookie gets a call from Alcide, who’s at Merlotte’s in hopes of finding her at work. He asks to come over and Sookie agrees. Sookie tells Alcide about the detectives that visited her. He is unaware that Debbie’s family had hired detectives. They talk about the detectives and Alcide still tries to rationalize Debbie’s behavior before he informs Sookie of Colonel Flood’s death. Alcide invites Sookie to the funeral. They briefly talk about what to wear and who will be pack master now that Colonel Flood is dead. Alcide let’s Sookie know that his father wants to be pack master.

After going over to Tara’s house to retrieve something suitable to wear to Colonel Flood’s funeral and dressed, Sookie receives another visit from the detectives assigned to finding Debbie Pelt. Only this time, she is shocked to find out how much information they know that they shouldn’t know. Someone has been talking to the detectives openly. They still suspect Sookie, but she plays innocent well and they leave before Alcide arrives to pick her up to take her to the funeral.

Alcide and Sookie arrive at the funeral to see Alcide’s father standing with the pack leader’s wife before Colonel Flood by his side. Sookie learns a little about what is going on and why her significance standing by Alcide and his father is warranted at the funeral. She’s a little mad at Alcide for not telling her and grateful to the older woman for letting her in on the secret.

“Why didn’t you just ask me?” I was confused, and mostly I was hurt.
“I thought you might feel like you owed me anyway!”
“How do you figure that?”
“I know you killed Debbie.”

As if everything else couldn’t go wrong, Sookie felt like Alcide had just slapped her in her face. After a subdued argument with Alcide they go into the church for the funeral. The funeral takes place and much posturing is done by the two candidates for pack leader. On the drive home, Sookie brings up the subject of Debbie again, but Alcide doesn’t want to talk about it. When he does, Sookie feels like he doesn’t really want an explanation but someone to blame for Debbie’s death. Sookie tells Alcide what Patrick, the other candidate for pack leader, has in mind to discredit Alcide’s dad. When they get to Sookie’s house, Sookie tells Alcide she doesn’t want to see or hear from him for a very, very long time.

When Sookie goes into work the next night, she is reading the thoughts of the people in the bar to see if any give a clue as to who or why the shootings are taking place. She finds nothing, but is distracted when Tara comes in with Mickey. When she attempts to make contact with Tara, Mickey hurts her. Sookie knows something is wrong with Tara, she has a glazed look and doesn’t seem to be taking part in the confrontation until she chimes in to say that Sookie needs to back off and Mickey is her man now. Sookie is not pleased with this new information but backs off, for the time being.

Sam tells Sookie that Charles is not happy with his sleeping arrangements in the storeroom of the bar. Sam asks Sookie if Charles can stay with her. After a little quarrel over the issue, Sookie agrees. Once their shift is over Sookie takes Charles back to her house and lets him know where he’ll sleep. Her manners have her pointing out things he may be interested in. Charles asks if he may roam the woods outside Sookie house. She has no problem with it and goes to bed, only to have Charles wake her up a short time later to inform her that someone is outside her house. Charles goes to investigate only to find Bill. Charles doesn’t know who Bill is until he calls Sookie outside.

“I wanted to be sure you weren’t being attacked,” Bill said. “I thought I caught a sniff of human, too. Did you have a human visitor today?”

Bill humiliates Sookie by bringing up their past relations. Sookie goes back to sleep only to be awakened a little while later by Claudine informing her that her house is on fire.

Once the firefighters and everyone else shows up at Sookie’s house, because Charles called them from Bill’s house. Bud Dearborn, the sheriff, and Andy Bellefleur, detective, question Sookie about the man Charles killed that allegedly started the fire to Sookie house. Sookie and friends have no idea who he is or why he’d start the fire. They find a membership card to the Fellowship of the Sun and that seems to be enough reason for everyone to believe it was a hate crime against Sookie dating vampires.

The next day, Sookie meets her insurance agent. Through some probing into his mind, she learns he is a witch. His mother was a witch and he’d been using a spell to keep his clients safe. Unfortunately for Sookie, he cannot foresee everything that may happen. He lets her know how much she’ll receive towards repairs and she’s relieved that she has the money from keeping Eric while the witches were in town. Everyone from town seems to know what is going on with Sookie and she is the prime target for everyone’s support. While he house is being inspected, Sam offers to have her stay with him. She also receives an offer from Arlene and many others. She decides to stay with Jason.

Sookie goes into work that evening and has a hard time getting anything done with all the support from the locals. Sam is visited by some strangers, whom he later informs Sookie is the mother and twin brother to the supposed arsonist of her home. Although she doesn’t want to speak with them. She reluctantly agrees to meet with them after her shift. She follows through on her word and meets with her arsonists family in Sam’s office. Sam stays to support her while she speaks to the family. She answers their questions but is unable to make them understand why their family member would torch her house.

After they leave, Sam is there to support her while she’s crying. His support leads to a little snogging which is interrupted by Bill.

“Not good enough for you here,” he said, doing a little gasping of his own. He pulled away and reached for his crutches, but then he hauled me back and kissed me again. “Sookie, I’m going to–”
“What are you going to do?” asked a cold voice from the doorway.

Bill claims to be there to take Sookie home. Sookie didn’t tell him that she had a vehicle, loaned to her by Tara, and didn’t need a ride. Sookie gets the feeling that Bill was interested in more than a friendly gesture. Sookie leaves and goes to Jason’s house for the night.

The next morning Sookie meets Terry Bellefleur at her house. Terry is going to be doing the demolition work on her kitchen and porch. Sookie is there to go through the things in the kitchen to see what can be salvaged. She’s also going to meet with a contractor later to discuss the repairs. While taking a break, Sookie is visited by an agitated Alcide. He’s upset that she didn’t inform him about the fire. Sookie makes it clear that they aren’t really friends at the moment, which Alcide seems to be saddened by. Alcide tells Sookie about Debbie’s family suspecting him of her disappearance but claims to have an alibi for the night in question. He also asks Sookie if they can start seeing each other on a steady basis.

“I want you to think about seeing me on a steady basis,” Alcide said. “As in, every day.”
Once again, the world seemed to rearrange itself around me. “Huh?” I said.
“I like you very much,” he said. “I think you like me, too. We want each other.”

Alcide asks Sookie to stay with him. Sookie declines stating that she’s staying with Jason, although she has every intention of moving back into her place as soon as possible. The contractor arrives and discusses the repairs with Alcide. After they are done, Alcide apologizes to Sookie for “talking shop” with her contractor and they leave.

While running errands, Sookie goes to Tara’s house to drop off her suit that she borrowed for the funeral. While in the house, Sookie is confronted by Mickey. Mickey asks about Charles, Sookie tells him he’s an employee of Eric’s. Mickey warns Sookie to stay away from Tara. Sookie agrees and leaves the house in a rush. At work, she’s met outside the bar by Sweetie, the cook. Sweetie starts asking her questions about the shootings and compares the investigation to a mystery novel. Sookie jokingly states that life is not as easy as a novel.

While Sookie is hard at work serving customers at the bar, Bill shows up with a date. Sookie knows it’s just payback for her kissing Sam the previous night but she still feels awkward around Bill’s new girlfriend. Selah, Bill’s new girl, is a million dollar realtor and she looks down her nose at Sookie. She figures Sookie must be good in bed since she’s not wealthy and hopes she can compare for Bill. Selah even asks Sookie for advice with Bill, during which Sookie gleans the above information about what Selah thinks of her.

Also that night, Eric visits the bar and is none too happy with Charles. After “having a word” with Charles, Sookie pulls him into the back of the bar so he can say what he needs to say to her. Eric asks Sookie if the detectives coming around has anything to do with Debbie, Sookie doesn’t respond but says…

“You were so sweet when you didn’t know who you were,” I said, and whatever he’d been expecting me to say, it wasn’t that. Astonishment played tag with outrage across his handsome face. Finally, he was amused.
“Sweet?” he said, one corner of his mouth turning up in a smile.

Eric leaves after Sam comes looking for Sookie.

The next day, Sookie decides to run errands. She needs to return some library books and go see Calvin. She visits Calvin first, they hug and she leaves to go to the library. After she is finished at the library while walking to her car she gets a sense that something is wrong and ducks just as a shot is fired. Sookie is hit in the arm and passes out while Portia Bellefleur calls the cops and for an ambulance. When she recovers, Bill is by her bedside. She speaks with him then asks him to lay with her on the bed. Sookie needed to feel safe after being shot and Bill makes her feel safe.

When she is released from the hospital, Sookie is surprised to see Claude waiting to pick her up. Just when she was ready to go back inside to call someone to pick her up, she’s shocked when Claude calls for her to get in. Claude is his usual blunt and rude self for most of the ride home. Claude brings up Sweetie and Sookie asks how he knows her. He explains that he doesn’t actually know her but she used to be a stripper before she was in a car accident.

“Yeah, so she got scarred and didn’t want to strip anymore. It would’ve required too much makeup, she said. Besides, by then she was getting a little on the, ah, old side to be stripping.”

Claude drops Sookie off at home, her neighbor at Sam’s rented duplex has her keys. Claude helps Sookie inside, Sookie takes a pill and goes to sleep. When she awakens she is visited by Tara. Sookie asks Tara if she is alright and Tara spills about how she became Mickey’s property. Tara’s last vampire boyfriend owed Mickey and debt, Mickey was interested in Tara, so she was traded to Mickey to repay the debt. Now she was stuck with Mickey until he tired of her. Sookie knew that if that were to happen Tara would most likely be killed by Mickey. Tara leaves.

After Tara leaves, Sookie calls Eric to ask him a favor. Eric arrives shortly after her call. Sookie asks Eric to help Tara get away from Mickey in return Eric wants to know about what happened while he was with Sookie. Sookie tells Eric everything, Eric makes a call to Mickey’s maker. Shortly after the call, Eric is knocked out by a brick that was thrown through the front window of Sookie’s new rental. Mickey has Tara, who is badly beaten, and forces Sookie to allow him to enter to save Tara’s life. Sookie stalls for as long as she can hoping that Eric will recover from his head wound, he’s already taken her blood to speed up the processes but Mickey is growing tired of waiting. Sookie allows Mickey to enter with Tara in tow. Mickey hits Sookie and forces himself on top of her when she falls. Sookie is smart enough to rescind his invitation before he can rape her. Eric is impressed by Sookie’s ability to keep her head about her and rescind the invitation. Sookie tells Eric to clean up the broken glass while she tends Tara; Eric instead carries Tara to the sofa and lays her down leaving Sookie to sweep up the mess. Eric makes a call and Bill shows up with supplies to fix the broken window. Sookie is in shock and gets a little giddy over having her only two lovers in her rental.

Eric cocked a blond eyebrow. “We are amusing?”
I nodded wordlessly. I thought, Instead of a cook-off, we could have a cock-off. instead of a fishing derby, we could have a…

Bill and Eric leave Sookie and Tara.

Sookie awakens the next morning to find Tara gone with only a short note. Sookie goes to work and runs into Sweetie. Sweetie asks about her and the shooting. Later during the course of the evening Sookie talks with Sam about going out to see if he can find any clues to who the shooter may be. Sam agrees, after their shift is over and the bar is closed down, Sam changes into a bloodhound and they first check out the woods behind the bar. They then move onto where the female shifter was shot in an abandoned alley.

It was there that they first run into Andy, who asks Sookie why she’s snooping around. Sookie tells him that she was just trying to help. While they are talking another person comes into the alley. Sweetie is the shifter shooter, Sookie begins to talk to her about what happened.

“So how long have you been shooting shifters?”
“Three years,” she said proudly. “I’ve killed twenty-two and wounded forty-one.”
“That’s awful,” I said.
“I’m proud of it,” she said. “Cleaning the vermin off the face of the earth.”

Sookie finds out more information but then tells Sweetie that she made a mistake, Sookie isn’t a shifter. She had been with shifters the day she was shot but is not one herself. Sweetie doesn’t seem to care. Another form comes into the alley, when Sweetie turns to shoot the other figure, Andy shoots her but not before she shoots the other figure. Sookie runs over to see who it is and finds that it is a Werewolf, when he reverts to his human form, she finds out that it is Dawson.

The next day, Sam gives Sookie the day off, so she makes something for Calvin who was just released from the hospital and takes it over to his house. There is a gathering of people at his house and Sookie is introduced to everyone before she is let in to visit with Calvin. Sookie thanks Calvin for sending Dawson and Calvin gives Sookie a kiss. When Sookie gets ready to leave she is met at her car by Patrick Furnan, the other contender for pack leader. Patrick warns her that Calvin won’t wait for her for long before calling in her debt. He also tells her that you cannot two-time a Were and get away with it.

The next day, Sookie wakes up and gets a phone call from Alcide. The pack leader competition is that day and as a friend of the pack she is required to go. Sookie doesn’t know what one would wear to one of these so she goes casual only to find that most in attendance are dressed up. During the competition, Sookie calls out that Patrick is cheating during one of the tests. It is up to the pack to decide whether the competition will continue or if Patrick will forfeit his bid. All those in attendance not apart of the pack are sent outside the room while the decision is made. This is when Sookie meets Quinn, the big bald guy she had seen at the funeral.

The pack decides to let the competition continue but Patrick would forfeit the first two rounds, the final round had to be won by either death or maiming. Quinn asks Sookie to read the minds of the competitors to see if either of them plan to cheat. Before Sookie can get out of the cage where the two competitors are, they begin to fight and Quinn snatches her out of the cage, scraping her leg on the door as it closes. Quinn takes her to low wall where he licks her wound clean.

“Not our time and place, babe,” he said. “God, that was…great.” He stretched, and it wasn’t an outward extension of arms and chest, the way humans stretch. He rippled from the base of his spine to his shoulders. It was one of the oddest things I’d ever seen, and I’d seen a lot of odd things. “Do you know who I am?” He asked.
I nodded. “Quinn?” I said, feeling my cheeks color.
“I’ve heard your name is Sookie,” he said, rising to his knees.

Patrick wins the fight, after he is declared the winner, he kills Jackson Herveaux.

Sookie stays long enough to see everyone show fealty to Patrick, even Alcide. Sookie witnesses the end of the ceremony where Patrick was procreate with a female member of the pack and she is disgusted by it. She leaves with Claudine and Claude but as they speed away she sits in her car coming to terms with everything that had happened and how Alcide seemed to be blaming her for his father’s death.

At work that evening, Sookie stays busy but is still deep in thought. The busboy comes to find her to tell her that there is an “old dude” in the parking lot waiting for her. When she arrives out back she finds Bubba the vampire there waiting. Bubba has a message from Eric but doesn’t quite deliver it the way it should be. Sookie turns to find Charles standing in the doorway. Charles claims to have never heard Bubba sing and this tips Sookie off that Charles may not be what he seems. Before they can get back to the bar, Charles attacks Sookie but not before telling her why he is attacking her. Charles was sent to take something from Eric that was important, through rumors and observation Charles determined that was Sookie. Longshadow’s maker was not content with Eric’s monetary payback for staking Longshadow. He wanted more, but before Charles could harm Sookie, the male bar patrons came through and staked him with Sam’s stake that he kept in his office. When Eric arrives shortly afterwards to warn Sookie about Charles, he is met with a lot of suspicion. Sookie speaks with him out in the bar area so the patrons can calm down and get over Eric being there after they’ve staked a vampire. Sookie tells Eric about attending the pack leader competition.

“Why were you there? Was that blasted Alcide trying to use you for some purpose in the contest?”
“You should talk about using.”
“Yes, but I’m straightforward about it,” Eric said, his blue eyes guileless.

Eric tells Sookie that he rushed over when he realized that Bubba hadn’t delivered the message correctly. He’d planned to save Sookie by staking Charles himself. Before he leaves, he kisses Sookie and asks that although he told her that she was the best he’d ever had, did she say the same. She brushed him off with a “wouldn’t you like to know” answer.

Dead As A Doornail Questions for Discussion

1. Do you think Charles is a stepping off block for Eric fulfilling his promise to Sookie about all the vamps who owe him fealty will owe Sookie also? Wouldn’t that reflect that Eric DOES remember or was always pretending?

2. Charles brings up a good point; do you think Eric staked Longshadow because was embezzling only? Or something else? Explain.

3. Do you think it was right for Alcide to invite Sookie to Colonel Flood’s funeral without telling her about the political aspect of her being there? Is it any different than Eric summoning her to work for him? Or Bill for that matter?

4. Do you think Alcide was wrong for having flip-floppy feelings towards Sookie killing Debbie? Why would it have made a difference if Eric killed Debbie instead?

5. Do you think Bill was really just checking on Sookie’s safety or do you think he’s stalking her?

6. Do you think Sookie forgave Bill after Eric explained the maker-child relationship or do you think she’d forgiven him before then?

7. Did you suspect Sweetie?

8. Did you think it was wrong of Alcide to blame Sookie because the pack voted against his dad to cause his death?

9. Did you suspect Charles?

10. Any other thoughts regarding Dead As A Doornail? What was your favorite quote, scene, or event? What was your least favorite?

Discussion can take place here or over on the boards here


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