HBO's series True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris' The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, has been renewed for a forth season. For my part, I've just read the eigth novel (Dead and Gone), the complete short stories (compiled in A Touch of Dead) and viewed the show's third season. I'm not one for hype, and there's certainly plenty of that surrounding True Blood--in France, it's the show to watch and Americans seem to be ga-ga for the trashy sex scenes they'll never catch on Prime time--but cher reader, turning your nose up for such reasons would be a grave mistake.
Harris has created an expert depiction of small town life that is filled with humor, gothic southern mystique, monster lore and lovable characters. Woven into her artfully crafted universe of vampires, bar maids, shape-shifters and local rednecks, there is also a message of tolerance and equal rights for all that rings through loud and clear. As Harris says herself in the following interview, it may not be subtle, but her metaphor for gay and minority rights is wrapped up in the vampire's coming out of the coffin campaign (note the God Hates Fangs sign in the opening credits of Alan Ball's True Blood). True Blood departs considerably at times from the plot of the Sookie Stackhouse Novels and expands the roles of secondary characters like Jason, Terry and Lafayette (fabulously portrayed by Ryan Kwanten Todd Lowe and Nelsan Ellis, by the way). The great character acting is reason enough to invest time in watching the show, but the books flow so well from one to the next, you may just find yourself running to the store to buy them all.