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Most of the short stories in "The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories" have been published in previous collections and anthologies, so I'm pretty sure I've read most of them before, but only a few sounded familiar. They were all pretty good, I especially enjoyed "Two Blondes", which had Sookie and Pam traveling to a strip club and auditioning together to cover for the fact that they had just killed the club's owner. Only one story really had Eric in it (lame) but they were still fun.

Jeff Lindsay's fourth Dexter book, "Dexter by Design", starts with Dexter in Paris, on his honeymoon with Rita. They come home and Dexter faces an interesting case at work: someone is making performance art pieces out of dead bodies. Deb asks for his help, and when they go to question a witness, Debs is stabbed. Her new partner, Coulter, is onto Dexter and giving him a hard time. Dexter enlists Deb's boyfriend, Kyle, to help him track down the guy who's trying to "frame" him for killing the guy he thought stabbed Deb (Dexter actually did kill him, and was caught on camera, so his story is that the film is bogus). Oh, and the guy he thought stabbed Deb *actually* didn't, so he kind of killed an innocent man. Whoops. At any rate, it all worked out in the end and Rita has some wonderful news for Dexter--he's going to be a Daddy!

Jane Hawk's mad run from the law continues in Dean Koontz's "The Whispering Room". Jane gets an unlikely ally in the form of a sheriff from a rural Minnesota town who is devastated when an upstanding member of the community turns her car into a bomb and drives it into a hotel, killing a bunch of people. Luther finds Cora's journals at her house and reads about the spider in her brain that she wrote was taking over her life, and knows something big is going on. He lights out for Iron Furnace, Tennessee, where Cora went to a convention the year earlier and came back "different", according to a close friend of hers. Jane shows up in the town at the same time, on a trail given to her by one of the lawyers involved in the conspiracy to eliminate people who are a threat to their takeover of the world (confused yet? Shockingly, it all made sense in a scary sort of way). Jane and Luther team up and rescue a group of kids from the town and take them to safety, and Jane head to San Francisco to confront the big bad guy, who turns out not to be the big bad guy after all but a front. Oh dear. I have a feeling this is all going to get worse before it gets better.

I put Dianne Lake's book, "Member of the Family", on hold as soon as we ordered it, and I got it right when Manson finally died. Good riddance. Fifty years too late, in my opinion. Why the state of California kept that piece of human garbage alive and fed is beyond me. At any rate, ever since I read "Helter Skelter" at the age of 13, I've been fascinated by the Manson family and read everything I could about them. Dianne Lake was just fourteen when she joined his killer cult, a lost, rebellious teen whose own parents were no fit guardians. They were happy to let Dianne go off with a group of complete strangers, since she had been causing problems in the communes they flitted to and from. Charles made Dianne feel loved and secure and safe, and she spent two years with the family, until they were all arrested at Barker Ranch and Susan Atkins spilled the beans and the cops realized they had more than just drug taking, dune buggy stealing hippies behind bars. Dianne spent some time in a mental hospital, regaining her sanity (she was psychotic, mostly from all the LSD she'd ingested over the years) and when she got out she was fostered by a kind cop and his wife. She had to testify at Manson's trial, since she witnessed Leslie Van Houten burning items belonging to Rosemary LaBianca (she didn't participate, or even know about the killings until after they happened). It was a powerful and moving story, and she didn't flinch from telling the uncomfortable details. I'm glad she's had a good, healthy life since then, and I'm even more glad Charles Manson is dead.

In the third Dexter book, "Dexter in the Dark", Dexter shows up at a crime scene where two young women have been burned and decapitate, their heads replaced with ceramic bull's heads. It's not particularly gruesome or more awful than other crime scenes he's been to, but for some reason this crime scene scares the bejeesus out of his Dark Passenger, who flees, leaving Dexter alone for the first time in his life, unsure of how to proceed, and totally uninterested in killing. His sister and the rest of the detectives are trying to solve the murders, Rita is trying to get him interested in planning their wedding, Cody and Astor are trying to convince him they're ready to kill on their own, and all Dexter can think about is getting his Dark Passenger back. Poor damaged Dexter!

Miss D and Me

I really enjoyed Kathryn Sermak's "Miss D and Me". I think I've read one other book about Bette Davis, before I started keeping this blog, so it's been quite awhile. I've seen a few of her movies, "Baby Jane", of course, and "Jezebel", which I really like. Kathryn was Miss Davis's personal assistant and good friend the last decade of her life, traveling with her to Europe and spending time with her family. She grew to love and appreciate her as a person and not just a celebrity. Kathryn's admiration for her spirit and courage come through loud and clear. I especially enjoyed hearing how Bette named her Mustang "Black Beauty", which is also what I named my Camaro :)

So I was hoping Mark Frost's "Twin Peaks: the Final Dossier" would help clear up some of the last season of "Twin Peaks", but it kind of didn't. It helped for some things, like Shelly and her daughter, but mostly it just summarized what had happened over all three seasons, provided some backstory in some spots, and theorized what might have happened during the interim between seasons two and three. Still, it was a quick read and a good refresher on what all went down (and yes, I know technically the last season isn't really season three, but it makes sense in my head to call it that, so I am). I have more questions than answers after reading it, but in a good way. That's what "Twin Peaks" has always been about :)

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