“The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix
Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian
It’s the late 1980s in Charleston, S.C., and Patty is bored. She enjoyed her career as a nurse but when she married her husband she gave up nursing to raise their two children. Not being the typical southern lady she doesn’t enjoy the genteel company of most of the neighborhood women. But she loves her book club. These five ladies get together to discuss the books they love — true crime.
When the old woman down the street knocks Patty down as she takes out the garbage one night and eats her ear in what is thought to be a fit of senility bringing on cannibalism, the oddities in the area have just begun. Patty begins to suspect there is a killer in their midst in the form of their new charismatic neighbor James Harris. Will her friends believe her? How can five housewives take down a monster?
This book is by turns light-hearted, darkly funny, horrific and a serious study of the dynamics within a society. I found myself getting livid over the way the husbands treated their wives; capable of running a household and raising their children, but they couldn’t possibly have discovered a serial killer. (Especially one that invested so much money in the husband’s financial interests.) The demeaning “little woman” attitude made my blood boil. Don’t even get me started on the deaths in Six Mile, the all-black community outside of town. Deaths of children that go unnoticed because of the color of their skin. And the one time an outsider decides to help, thinking she knows how the system works, she causes more harm instead. As mad as this book made me, I still can’t recommend it enough. I loved getting to know all the characters, I understood their decisions even if I didn’t agree with them, and it was a great glimpse at a place and time. And there is a monster that is just a little too real feeling for comfort.
Listen to this book. But if you are a little squeamish you may want to have the text as well so you can flip back and forth. I say this from experience. I am not squeamish, or at least I didn’t think I was, but there were a scene or two that I needed to read, not hear. Listening just makes everything more vivid to me — and I didn’t want those particular scenes to be that technicolor.