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Meet Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic cocktail waitress in the quiet rural town of Bon Temps, Lousiana: she's found a boyfriend and her life will never be the same again! Sookie doesn't have that many relations, so she hated to lose one - but of all the people to go, she didn't expect it to be her cousin Hadley, a consort of New Orleans' vampire queen - after all, Hadley was technically already dead. But she is gone and she's left Sookie an inheritance - one that comes with a bit of a risk - not least because someone doesn't want Sookie digging too deep into Hadley's past - or her possessions.
Sookie's life is once again on the line and this time the suspects range from the rogue werewolves who have rejected Sookie as a friend of the pack, to her first love, the vampire Bill. Sookie's got her work cut out for her if she wants to stay alive Charlaine Harris has been a published novelist for over twenty-five years.
A native of the Mississippi Delta, she grew up in the middle of a cotton field. Now she lives in southern Arkansas with her husband, her three children, three dogs, and a duck.
The duck stays outside. Though her early output consisted largely of ghost stories, by the time she hit college Rhodes, in Memphis Charlaine was writing poetry and plays.
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After holding down some low-level jobs, she had the opportunity to stay home and write, and the resulting two stand-alones were published by Houghton Mifflin. After a child-producing sabbatical, Charlaine latched on to the trend of writing mystery series, and soon had her own traditional books about a Georgia librarian, Aurora Teagarden.
Her first Teagarden, Real Murders , garnered an Agatha nomination. Soon Charlaine was looking for another challenge, and the result was the much darker Lily Bard series. The books, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas, feature a heroine who has survived a terrible attack and is learning to live with its consequences. Sookie promises to look for the jewels, and asks the queen for help solving the mystery of the new vampire who attacked her and Amelia in Hadley's apartment.
They know that the vampire was a shapeshifter named Jake Purifoy who was to escort Hadley to the party, but do not know how he became a vampire or was hidden in the closet. Amelia offers to cast a special spell with her coven to show a replay of the events before both Hadley and Purifoy's deaths.
Sophie-Anne is intrigued, and decides to watch the spell being cast, accompanied by her personal bodyguard Andre. The spell is a success, and the collection of vampires and witches witness Purifoy being killed, but they are unable to see his assailant. Hadley didn't witness the murder, but she saves Purifoy by turning him into a vampire and putting him in her hall closet. Hadley herself is killed the next day by one of the Queen's assistants, a crime which has already been dealt with.
While Sookie cleans Hadley's apartment, Quinn arrives.
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He's also investigating Purifoy's attack, as the young Were was an employee of his event-planning business. They bond and their relationship matures, but they are attacked yet again, and kidnapped by some weres. Quinn manages to call the queen, asking her to send help. Sookie and Quinn are beaten up badly, but Sookie manages to undo their restraints and they escape into a swamp.
Quinn changes to his tiger form, and the two backtrack through the swamp to follow the van to an isolated cabin. Peeking inside, Sookie discovers that the Pelt family, the parents and sister of Alcide's ex-girlfriend, Debbie Pelt, are behind both attacks on her and Quinn. Debbie had attacked Sookie with a gun, forcing Sookie to kill her with Jason's shotgun in self-defense in Dead to the World. The Pelts have been unrelenting in trying to find the truth of their daughter's disappearance, and Sookie tells them the truth. The Pelts stoically accept the outcome, swearing not to tell anyone if Sookie will keep the secret of their violence against her, which is against pack law.
Before she can leave New Orleans for good, Sookie must attend the ball being thrown in honor of the newly married King and Queen. She attends with Quinn, and is surprised and dismayed at the amount of security from both Louisiana and Arkansas, noting that the two royal parties obviously have a shaky alliance. Sookie has found the Queen's missing bracelet, and slips it onto Sophie-Anne's wrist without anyone noticing.
Furious when he sees the missing bracelet publicly displayed, Threadgill starts his uprising without provocation, with Arkansas vampires squaring off against Louisiana loyalists, and many bystanders caught in the middle.
During the fight, Bill saves Sookie's life. Sookie rushes to find an exit and winds up in the queen's private quarters, as Andre and Threadgill square off over the wounded queen. Andre kills Threadgill to save Sophie-Anne, and Sookie escapes during the melee. She arrives back at the apartment with a wounded Quinn, and is soon interrupted by a knock on the door. Bill is standing in the doorway, completely healed from the fight though his clothing bears the evidence, desperate to talk to her.
Bill confesses that though he was sent by the queen to seek out Sookie initially, he truly fell in love with her, and still loves her.
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Sookie turns him away, telling him to get out of her life and never come back. As she prepares to leave New Orleans for Bon Temps, Amelia asks to come along as she has broken coven rules by accidentally turning her lover, fellow witch Bob, into a housecat. Grateful for the company, and upset by the heartbreak and violence, Sookie accepts and heads home.
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