We get two mysteries for the price of one in the second installment of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries. After a night of drinking in Merlotte's Bar, Detective Andy Bellefleur leaves his car in the parking lot and gets a ride home from his sister. When Sookie arrives for work the next day she sees an unexpected surprise in his back seat, the body of one of her friends.
A few days later Sookie is summoned to Shreveport at the request of Eric, the vampire sheriff of the area, as well as owner of the popular vampire bar "Fangtasia". As part of her agreement with Eric to spare the lives of the humans she questioned about the theft of money from the bar in Dead Until Dark, she must agree to come when ever he calls and use her telepathic gift at his request. Sookie honors her agreement and she and Bill drive to Shreveport. On the way Sookie encounters a strange creature in the woods, this creature uses Sookie to send a "message" to Eric, a very painful and bloody message.
At Eric's request Sookie and Bill travel to Dallas, Texas to investigate the disappearance of a "brother" of the vampire sheriff of the Dallas area. Once there, the job proves to be much more work then she anticipated when she finds out the reason for the disappearance of Farrel and who is behind it.
Living Dead in Dallas is the first book in which Harris takes her Southern heroine and her vampire entourage on the road. After arriving in Dallas, Sookie and Bill realize that Eric has traveled to Dallas as well to check up on Sookie. This is the first time we really get to know Eric and more of his personality is revealed to Sookie. Eric is shown to be straight forward and refreshingly honest about his intentions in various situations, a stark contrast to the controlled and secretive Bill. Eric is also charming and witty, but also always out for himself, which is the way he has always lived his life.
The relationship between Sookie and Bill that was such a huge part of Dead Until Dark begins to unravel a bit in this book. Sookie sees more and more of Bill's "vampire side" and further evidence that he is not, in fact human like she is. While I am obviously not a big fan of Bill in general, I do think it's hypocritical for Sookie to fault Bill for being what he is. Isn't the same type of discrimination that has plagued her most of her life? Bill can help the fact that he's a vampire about as much as Sookie can help that she's a telepath. I think it's a growing experience for Sookie in the end. She must learn to accept that vampires are what they are or stop hanging out with them.
Bottom line: Between the two mysteries to solve there is plenty going on in Living Dead in Dallas, the mysteries are pretty good. The characters outside of the principle characters are just average, making this book less interesting then many of the others in the series. I know, that's similar to what I said about Dead Until Dark, but keep reading, I promise it'll get better.