All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
When we were last with Sookie, she helped the Queen of Louisiana with a problem with her husband, the King of Arkansas (who is now dead), and settled her late cousin Hadley's estate in New Orleans. Normally, we'd pick up just a few weeks after our last adventure, but this time, Hurricane Katrina has struck New Orleans and everything has been postponed. Several people in Bon Temps were supposed to get married and Sookie was supposed to attend the Vampire Summit. It's now September and things are picking back up. Sookie is meeting at Fangtasia with Eric, Pam, Andre, Jake and several other of the remaining Louisiana vampires, including the unnamed Ex, to discuss the upcoming Vampire Summit which will now include a murder trial for Sophie-Anne. Sookie has to go as a member of the Queen's Entourage in order to read the minds of the humans at the summit, and she learns that the only other telepath she's met, Barry the Bellboy, will also be in attendance. Before the meeting ends, Sookie suggests that maybe someone somewhere planning the Summit has access to someone who can predict the weather, which is why they postponed it. She figures that if the Summit had happened at its original time, Sophie-Anne would have gone in on top. As it is now, she's on trial for murdering her husband and has lost half her state to a storm. She's not looking too good.
The next day, Sookie attends a wedding shower for Halleigh. Her double wedding to Andy with his sister Portia and her guy was postponed due to Caroline Bellefleur's waning health, but now it seems it's back on. Sookie is in charge of writing down the gifts Halleigh receives. It's as fun as a wedding shower can be and includes dirty jokes from middle-aged ladies. When she gets home from the party, she's pleased to find Quinn is there! Amelia, Sookie's new witch friend from New Orleans and roommate, leaves to do some shopping, so Sookie and Quinn *finally* consummate their relationship. It's about time, Sookie!!
Later, Amelia returns and she, Sookie and Quinn sit around talking about the repairs in New Orleans. It turns out, Amelia's dad is very wealthy and very important in Louisiana, so he's going to help Amelia rebuild her house. She still has to stay away from there though because she hasn't yet figured out a way to return Bob, her witch fling, back into a human. He's currently purring around the house, so maybe he doesn't hate being a cat too terribly much.
Sookie then gets a call from Jason inviting her to his wedding. So many weddings!! Jason and Crystal are getting married because she's pregnant again and her favorite band is currently available, so Sookie, Quinn and Amelia head to Hotshot. All the Panthers are enthralled by Quinn, but Sookie doesn't really know why. As part of the ceremony, Sookie has to agree to pay for any wrongdoings Jason might impart on his bride, which seems likely, but upon reading his mind, Sookie learns that Jason is serious about his vows and his love for his new bride. Crystal isn't, but the ceremony goes on anyway. Amelia ends up spending the night with one of the Hotshotters and Sookie and Quinn go home to spend a little time together before he has to get back on the road for his job. Sookie doesn't love the fact that Quinn is always on the road, but he promises to take a month off work after his next job and wants to spend it with Sookie.
The next day at Merlotte's, Sookie is tired and not firing on all cylinders. Selah Pumphrey insults her and says she's going to try to steal Bill away from her at the Summit, and just as Sookie is about to slap her, Sam comes up and insists that Selah leave for the day. As she's headed out, Tara comes in with JB Durone, who is her new beau. It seems everyone is getting together now. When Sookie gets back home, Amelia is there after hooking up with one of the werepanthers. Bob was not pleased with this turn of events and puked on Amelia's bed in retaliation.
Sookie goes shopping at Tara's place the next day for things to wear to the Summit. They get into a tiff about Sookie working for vampires, but it's her life and she gets to choose what to do with it. When she gets back home, Claudine is there. She's also worried about Sookie going to the Summit because she, as her fairy godmother, can't attend to assist her if she should need it on account of all the vampires there who would love to eat her. Everyone just needs to chill the eff out and let Sookie make her own decisions.
After another shift at Merlotte's, Arlene has a few choice Fellowship of the Sun words for Sookie before she leaves, but seriously, fuck off Arlene. Pam has come to visit with Sookie and Arlene doesn't like that. Pam tells Sookie that neither she nor Eric knew about Bill's secret behind his love. They had no idea that the queen sent him to entice her. Pam also tells Sookie that she is really messing with Eric's head. He hasn't been the same since the witches took his memories and he seems to care a great deal for Sookie. Pam then tells the story of how Eric turned her. Speaking of, Eric arrives then, worried about Pam, and confronts Sookie about her dating Quinn. She tells him that he never once indicated that they should be anything other than acquaintances, so she's going to date whomever she pleases. Good job, Sook, though really, as much as we love Quinn, Eric is the one we all want.
Amelia takes Sookie to the airport the next day. It's time for the Summit! On the plane with her are Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, and the lawyer who will be representing the Queen during her trial, Johan. He's a real sleazeball, but he's probably the best type of person to defend someone in a murder trial. The vampires are all on board, too, in their coffins. Sookie sees coffins belonging to the Queen, Eric, Bill, Andre, Sigebert, Gervaise, a sheriff who has been hosting the Queen and the sheriff of area three, Cleo. Mr. Cataliades notices Sookie looking at the coffins and speaks to her about Johan, who hasn't really talked to Sookie about her being the only witness to Andre killing the King of Arkansas.
When they arrive at the Summit at the Pyramid of Gizeh hotel, Sookie goes to her room and finds she is sharing it with Gervaise's human girlfriend, Carla, who prefers to be naked. She connects with Barry the Bellboy and then goes to meet with the Queen. She learns that she will be with the Queen whenever she is around humans and gets a schedule of events. Soon enough, Stan, the King of Texas, arrives and brings Barry along with him. It's a big deal that Stan has come to visit. It shows there are still vampires who are loyal to Sophie-Anne and support her in her murder allegations. Sookie answers a phone call about a bag that was left by someone in their party that needs to be retrieved and then Barry and Sookie leave shortly thereafter to practice their mind-reading abilities. They enjoy their time and discover that they are stronger when they work together.
As they are practicing, they hear an angry vampire asking about the party from Louisiana. This vampire is called Jennifer and she's the next in line to rule Arkansas assuming the trial does not go in Sophie-Anne's favor. She threatens to eat Sookie and stake all the Louisiana vampires on the roof to burn in the sun, so she's really, really, delightful. Sookie is relieved when Quinn comes up, but disturbed when Barry is excited to meet him and is cowed by his fighting abilities. Uh, what? Quinn says they'll talk about that later. They also meet an interesting woman named Batanya who is a Britlingen, a powerful being from another dimension who is at the Summit working as a bodyguard for the King of Kentucky. Sookie reports the Britlingen and Jennifer's attitude when she goes back up to see the Queen. Sophie-Anne gives Jennifer a call and offers to come down and see her in a minute, but that minute turns into like fifteen and when they arrive at the Arkansas room, it is to find Jennifer and several of the other Arkansas vampires dead. Who would do such a thing?
An investigation ensues, mainly led by Sigebert, Batanya and her companion Britlingen, Clovache. The hotel's human security guard, Todd, is there, too and notices there is gum on the security camera lens which was probably put there by a vampire who didn't want anyone to witness a murder. The owner of the hotel, Christian, is also there and he gets a little too close to the Queen for anyone's comfort. As they're all standing around, a lone vampire, Henrik, arrives at the suite and freaks out. He's the only remaining Arkansas vampire at the Summit and now one of five left of the entirety of the state. Sophie-Anne immediately offers him a place with her as she is now technically the leader of Arkansas since Jennifer is dead. Does this mean there will no longer be a trial?
As the group disperses, Mr. Cataliades suggests to Sophie-Anne that she remarry right away to have a strong ally and so the hotel owner will leave her alone. They ponder which king or queen would be the best, not Mississippi because he's getting married to Indiana later in the Summit, not Kentucky because of the Britlingens, maybe Florida or Alabama? Sookie suggests that Sophie-Anne make Andre the new King of Arkansas since she can technically do that now and then just marry him. This seems like a very good idea to them both.
After this, the group goes down to the lobby of the hotel where there are many booths set up for perusal. Sookie and Barry are on the lookout for anything or anyone suspicious that might be tied to the Arkansas deaths. Sookie comes across a booth for Extreme(ly Elegant) Events, Quinn's company, and is immediately judged by the girl working there. She's not very nice when Sookie reveals that she's dating Quinn. Sookie also sees Bill and Pam at Bill's Vampire Database table. Then she sees Russell Edgington, the King of Mississippi, and they chat about Lorena disappearing from his mansion and how he's not upset by that at all. Russell introduces Sookie to the King of Indiana, Bartlett, and then Russell learns that Sookie is dating Quinn who has set up their wedding ceremony, which will be performed by Eric who has been ordained as a minister on the Internet. Russell is intrigued about Sookie dating Quinn. What's the deal with him?!
As the time for the ceremony arrives, Sookie sees Rasul, the Queen's driver, and with him is Jake Purifoy. Sookie talks to Jake a little bit about his new life and about Quinn. Eric performs the ceremony, then Sookie gets Jake to spill on what he knows about Quinn. When he was young, Quinn's mother was trapped by dog fighters. He transformed for the first time and killed all the trappers, who were sexually abusing his mother, then went to the vampires for help. The vampires agreed to help Quinn if he would fight for them for three years. He agreed and began placing bets on himself to win and made a lot of money doing so. No one has ever beaten him in a fight. Sookie also learns that Quinn's mother got pregnant from that night and the angry girl working the Extreme(ly Elegant) Events booth is his sister. This isn't something that Sookie was prepared to learn and she feels bad that she didn't wait for Quinn to tell her himself, because surely he would have. Right?
After this, Sookie just wants to get away from everyone for a little while and Sophie-Anne sends her to retrieve the suitcase that they were called about earlier. Andre finds her and drags her down a hallway and tries to force her to drink his blood so she will be more closely tied to him and therefore Sophie-Anne. The Queen and Andre have a special connection thanks to an ability of Sophie-Anne's, she can telepathically communicate with her offspring, and Sookie will be included in that, kind of, if she drinks Andre's blood. Eric swoops in then and suggests that Sookie drink his blood instead. They've already shared blood several times, and been lovers, and he is loyal to the Queen, so it should be good enough. Sookie reluctantly agrees and soon she's drinking blood from Eric's nipple. Quinn bursts down the hallway then and is really pissed off.
Sookie takes off down the hallway and makes her way to the baggage claim area and retrieves a suitcase that has a difficult to read label. It at least says Louisiana, so she takes it. Someone from Iowa is there doing the same thing. The hotel staff in that area are not very friendly and one's mind is shielded from Sookie, but she still takes the suitcase and heads back up to Louisiana's rooms. On her way, just outside the Queen's room, she spots a soda can in a planter. It bothers her that someone would leave their trash around like that, so she decides she'll toss it in the nearest garbage can. When she picks up the can, she realizes it's not a discarded soda. It's a bomb.
Batanya comes out of the elevator right then and calls for Clovache once she realizes Sookie has a bomb. They call Todd, the security chief, who calls the bomb squad. Quinn and Eric show up shortly thereafter and both refuse to leave Sookie's side and both try, unsuccessfully, to take the bomb from her. Soon enough a bomb detecting robot gets off the elevator then leaves, replaced by a vampire from the bomb squad. Eventually Sookie is free of the bomb and is alone with Quinn who holds her tightly. Apparently his anger from witnessing the blood drinking earlier has died away. Once the area is safe, swarms of people come up, wanting to talk to Sookie.
In the Queen's rooms, Sookie drops off the suitcase she retrieved while everyone talks about what happened. Todd thinks he's going to get fired and that the soda bomb and the death of the Arkansas vampires are separate events. Soon, Sookie feels a radiating warmth and then Eric comes through the door. They talk about why Bill didn't come up to try to rescue her, like she gives a fuck, and then she starts yelling about being forced to drink his blood, but really, it'll be less bad to be tied to Eric instead of Andre. The Queen dismisses Sookie after this outburst and forces Andre to explain to her just what in the hell Sookie was yelling about. Quinn greets Sookie outside the Queen's door and together, they go to her room and go straight to sleep. Before dozing off, Sookie tells Quinn that she has no issues with his past and he seems pleased.
The next day, Sookie calls Amelia to see what she's up to. She says she worked at Merlotte's a little and then asks Sookie about the Summit so far. Sookie talks about the wedding and about how she's getting ready for a ball. She doesn't mention anything terrible that has happened and will save it for later. Sookie gets her ball gown on and is about to leave her room when she's summoned by the Queen and called by Quinn at the same time. They've decided to have a trial even though Jennifer is dead. A very very old blind vampire called the Ancient Pythoness is brought in to cast judgment. She's apparently been around since Alexander the Great's time, so she's very old indeed. The trial begins with an interview of Henrik, the Arkansas vampire, who, Sookie reads from his lawyer's mind, was told that Sophie-Anne was going to kill him. Well that's just not true. Sookie stands up and says so, realizing at that moment that she was actually reading Henrik's mind. The Ancient Pythoness hears Sookie's account of Henrik being threatened to say bad things about Sophie-Anne and declares that Arkansas now belongs to the Queen without even needing to hear Sookie's testimony of what happened the night of the King of Arkansas's death. As the Ancient Pythoness asks Henrik to tell who threatened him, he's struck with an arrow.
Another arrow comes sailing by, almost hitting Sookie, but Quinn jumps in and takes the arrow in the shoulder. Batanya throws a throwing star and decapitates the vampire who threw, not shot, the arrows. Shifter paramedics come to take Quinn away to heal while Eric searches the archer's body for ID. They discover he's called Kyle and Eric tells Sookie to go out the next day to the archery ranges nearby to find out anything she can about this vampire hit man. Eric thinks that someone went to a lot of trouble to make sure the trial went the way they wanted it to, but who?
After the trial ends, a team comes in and quickly resets the room for the dance. Sookie goes to check in with the Queen, but then the festivities start. Professional vampire dancers take to the floor and then Eric asks Sookie to dance. They whirl around and even fly a little bit, but then Sookie excuses herself, upset that she's enjoying her time with Eric instead of being with Quinn. The restroom attendant seems to really hate Sookie, which doesn't bother her much, but what does bother her is when she sees Gervaise a few moments later and reads his mind. Sookie begins to freak out since she's read two vampire minds that evening, but she shakes it off, assuming that extra ability will fade with time. Then she spots a witch and his wife and gleans that he is a weather witch, just like she suggested earlier. She takes the witch and his wife to Andre and then gets back to the ball.
Sookie spots Barry and the two start dancing, but Eric interrupts because he thinks Sookie is showing off a little too much. The professional dancers split them up before they can cause a scene and one of them tells Sookie that he's ready to leave the United States because the Fellowship of the Sun is probably going to start a war with vampires, or maybe werewolves if they reveal themselves. While she continues dancing with the professional, Sookie thinks of who could be behind all the terrible events that have taken place, but she doesn't get anywhere. She leaves the ball and decides she needs to check on Quinn.
Sookie makes her way to Jake Purifoy's room, thinking he might know where Quinn is since they used to work together, but Jake reveals that because he can't shift anymore, none of the weres want anything to do with him, but mostly that's on him. He says Quinn is in the infirmary and sends Sookie on her way. She realizes that there are two others in the room with him and that he's hiding them from her, but she gets a brainwave from someone saying they should all die. That's not good. Sookie goes to her room and finds the location of the infirmary then goes back to eavesdrop on Jake, but his companions, one of whom works in the baggage claim area, maybe the same mind-shielded guy, have already left his room. Why is Jake hanging out with the hotel staff? He catches her and she pretends to have come back to see if he wants to go with her to see Quinn, but he turns her down.
Quinn isn't too happy to see Sookie, thinking that she's come to break up with him to be with Eric. She says she has no intention of doing that, and he says she really wouldn't if Eric was staked. No!! She doesn't want that to happen and she asks that Quinn trust her and her ability to keep her love life and whatever is happening with Eric separate. Then he gets mad at Andre for putting her into that situation with Eric. She doesn't say anything about not staking him. She kisses Quinn and leaves him to rest.
When Sookie leaves the infirmary, Clovache is waiting for her. They chat about why she and Batanya were hired to protect the King of Kentucky. He found out that there was a Fellowship of the Sun spy in his entourage and learned that they have something big and bad planned to go down here at the Summit. Is that why the Arkansas vampires were killed? Or why the soda bomb was planted? Neither of these things seem *that* serious though, so what else could the Fellowship be planning? The soda bomb wouldn't have caused more than a scare to Sophie-Anne, so surely something worse is coming. But what?
Sookie goes to check back in with the Queen and, while she's passing the other kings and queens, she sees one who is fake scared by her date. Sookie almost has a thought about this, but then it's gone. Sookie asks Sophie-Anne about the weather witch and she says she'll deal with him later and that Sookie is dismissed for now and can do what she pleases. She goes back to her room and falls asleep. The next day, Sookie goes down to the restaurant to eat with Barry. They look over the agenda for the night which includes more trials that Sookie must attend. Until then, she and Barry go out to search the archery ranges. Bill provided a list of local places and a photo of Kyle the Archer. Before they can leave, Sookie is met by Todd who tells Sookie that Christian the hotel manager is interested in Sophie-Anne, but not interested in women being able to make their own decisions. He also suggests to Sookie that Sophie-Anne ask Christian to see the security tapes from the night of the soda bomb. Okay... Then she and Barry head out.
They drive to several archery ranges and finally find the one Kyle visited. The lady working the desk sexually tells Barry to come back when she gets off work and she'll show him the security tapes from the night before. Sookie leaves a message with the Queen and Andre as to what they are doing but when they go back later in the evening, things are terrible. The door is ripped off the hinges, the clerk is dead and the security tapes have been burned. Sookie presses an alarm and she and Barry rush away.
They get back in time for the trials, but Barry is pissed that they left without telling anyone what happened. Eric stops Barry from yelling at Sookie and then she tells him what happened. Later, she heads to the trials. She watches as a half fangless vampire is staked for harassment and a child vampire is threatened with hand removal if he doesn't spend time with his birth family. It turns out, Sookie wasn't really needed at the trials, but Sophie-Anne requests her presence for the next bit of the evening where she'll be visited by people that want to help her rebuild New Orleans. This isn't very exciting either and as it wraps up, they all go back up to the Queen's suite. Sookie did see some human waiters acting suspiciously, but as she had to sit with the Queen, she didn't get to investigate. She also learns from Mr. Cataliades that Diantha is investigating an extra Louisiana coffin in the baggage area. That's weird.
Andre half-ass apologizes for forcing Sookie to drink his or Eric's blood and then she tells him about what Todd said about getting Sophie-Anne to ask Christian for the security tapes. She also talks to Jake about her plans for the next day. He heavily suggests she get out of the hotel and go shopping with Quinn, which she just might do. She then asks him to take the unclaimed luggage back to the baggage area and he just shrugs and says he'll ask around. After this odd interaction, Sookie is dismissed for the evening and goes to her room and to bed.
She's abruptly woken by Barry shouting in her head that they need to get out of the hotel. Something bad is about to happen! They scramble and wake Mr. Cataliades and Diantha and explain what they think is going to happen. The extra suitcases and extra coffins are bombs planted by the Fellowship of the Sun and Jake Purifoy helped them. Sookie calls Quinn and tells him to get out then goes for Eric and Pam while Mr. Cataliades and Diantha go for Sophie-Anne and Barry heads for his king. They pull a fire alarm and hope that will get the humans out and emergency help on the way. Sookie manages to wake Eric and together they put Pam in her coffin and ride it down the outside of the Pyramid. Eric lifts Sookie in flight right before the coffin smashes to the ground. An ambulance arrives then and Sookie tells them to take Eric and Pam somewhere safe while she goes back to help others.
Mr. Cataliades smashes through the Queen's window and launches the suitcase bomb through the air just before it explodes. He has wrapped Sophie-Anne in blankets and takes her to safety. Sookie searches the rubble for more vampires and finds Bill. She can't help but cover him up and then she goes in search of others. She finds Andre who isn't looking too good and then spots Quinn and Frannie nearby. Quinn tells Sookie that he's going to have to take care of his sister for a while so they probably won't see each other and she's okay with that. He tells her to go help others while looking suspiciously over at Andre.
Sookie finds Barry and together they convince a firefighter of their ability to find living humans and they begin rescuing people. Just before dark, Sookie tells the rescue workers that the vampires will be rising soon and they'll be searching for blood, so they'd better get away. She calls Mr. Cataliades and he suggests she and Barry go to a hotel and pay with cash because people are going to be looking for them and exploiting their abilities, which both she and Barry already thought of. A cab comes by and they're taken away to a hotel.
The next day, Mr. Cataliades comes by to report on the survivors. The Queen is alive but missing her legs, King Stan is alive but badly injured, Eric, Pam, Bill and Sigebert are okay, Diantha is missing, and Quinn is in the hospital. Barry tells them that he investigated the waiters who were avoiding them the night before and learned that something bad was about to happen, but not really what or when, so he did the best he could. Sookie tells them about Christian planting the soda bomb then Mr. Cataliades not so subtly hints that the Queen and Sigebert we're responsible for the Arkansas deaths. Mr. Cataliades then tells them that a plane will be arriving later that will take them and the survivors back home and if they're not on it, he'll assume they've found another way home.
Barry heads to the airport while Sookie goes to the hospital to see Quinn. She doesn't really want to see any vampires right now and decides she’s not going to fly home with them. At the hospital, Frannie is with Quinn who is recovering quite well, but is still out. Sookie apologizes to an unknowing Quinn about Jake Purifoy being in on the attacks, then Frannie tells her she's going to have to take Quinn home to Memphis. Sookie knows this and knows that she won't get to see him for a while, and then tries to figure out how to get home. Frannie offers her car and Sookie takes her up on it. It's a good excuse to see them again sometime soon.
When Sookie finally gets home, Amelia is ecstatic to see her. She read about the explosion in the newspaper and saw that Sookie was listed as a survivor, so she's been anxiously waiting for her to get home. Tara pulls up shortly afterward, having seen Sookie drive by her shop, and tells her that she and JB got married while Sookie was gone. Sookie's excited for her friend and hopes that everything will go well for them in the future, but she just can't get over all the terrible things she's experienced in the past few days, most especially how she saw Quinn reach out from the rubble after she left him to help others and saw him stake Andre. He did it for her and she's going to have to live with that. Sookie promises herself that after this, she's not going to have anything to do with vampires or weres anymore. Yeah right, Sookie. Yeah right.