Cheryl's Reviews > Sweet and Deadly

Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris
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Aug 09, 12

Read from August 06 to 09, 2012

Sweet and Deadly is one of Charlaine Harris' earlier, if not earliest books. It was originally published in 1981 and the entire book, from narration to setting to plot hinge on that fact.

Taken as a mystery, Sweet and Deadly is kind of dull and pretty predictable. It's the story of Catherine, a recent college grad who's parents died just six months into her first job as a reporter. The story begins six months after that when she discovers the body of her father's (a doctor) nurse.

The interesting part about this story is Harris' voice. It's similar to the early Sookie books, capturing the feel of the rural South, and capturing details that you wouldn't know unless you lived there. The people are friendly, overly polite and there are unspoken social rules that govern everything.

It was truly a lesson in how much things have changed since the early 80s in the South, and how, some things haven't changed at all. Segregation was still rampant, though unofficial, in Catherine's community. There was a black side of town and a white side. "Blacks" were just starting to get jobs better than maids and farmhands, and some of the citizens were resentful of it. Catherine had a fairly liberal attitude in terms of race relations, and even she would have a hard time dealing with the ease of color blindness that we're trying to move towards.

Smoking was still prevalent, both in homes and in the workplace. Catherine's boss did not hesitate to offer her a cigarette. Hush up abortions, while legal, were offered by one character as an alternative to going to Memphis and risking the world finding out about it, and the fact that you had premarital sex.

Charlaine Harris captured the rural South's attitudes, dress and setting in the early 80s perfectly in this book. The romance, mystery and other drama were all second fiddle to that.

The narrator, Suzy Jackson, did not sound like she was from the south, and there was some strange editing at the beginning - like she was reading one sentence at a time and they were editing them together with long pauses after the periods. I don't know whether I got used to this or whether it got better as it went, but really, she didn't detract from the story.
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