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Kiss the Dead
Series: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #21
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Hit List, Bloody Bones, Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Narcissus in Chains, Obsidian Butterfly, Bite, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt, Bullet, Never After, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, "Shutdown", A Kiss of Shadows, Lunatic Café, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral’s Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Blue Moon, Dead Ice, Jason, Crimson Death.
Twenty-first in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter urban fantasy series based in St. Louis, Missouri and revolving about Anita Blake and her harem.
I think I missed an installment or two… Suddenly Dolph is friendly with Anita again. The American Vampire Council is referred to as if it’s a “been there, done that” event, we’re bored now. Wha’ happened??
As for the story, within the first few pages, I kept checking the cover to be sure I was reading a Laurell K. Hamilton. It was a complete one-eighty on the Anita Blake stories we’ve been reading — yeah, I’m exaggerating the 180 a tiny bit. The previous story, Hit List, read more like Hamilton had been reading the complaints of some of her readers about too much sex and was working on reducing this. This one reads more like a police procedural with an emphasis on a smaller “circle of love”.
This story is a combination of exploring and cleaning up Anita’s lovers and working with the cops. I do enjoy the extras that Hamilton usually throws in about changes in the law. The weird requirements AND the comments “Anita” makes about people passing laws who haven’t a clue about what it’s really like in the field.
Anita makes a point that someone in the rogue group must be connected to Jean-Claude because her power is a bit stronger around them, but then Hamilton doesn’t tie this thread up.
Anita does learn that she has a second nickname amongst vampires — War, because she has killed so many of them. Edward is probably Death, but he hasn’t killed as many.
As worried as Anita gets in every story about being monster, I just don’t see it. True, the monsters who prey on people, hurt them, may well see her as awful since she’s stepping in to stop their fun, but I just don’t see that as being a monster. Not when Anita is stepping in to prevent criminal behavior. When Anita tells “grandma” she’s like a date rapist and grandma is horrified to be aligned with monsters like that. In spite of their just having murdered two cops.
I like that the cops want Anita at their backs. They trust her. And they don’t care what Detectives Preston and Owens say about her. Oh, I do love Zerbrowksi!
New word: heteroflexible.
Interesting crises with Sin. I can understand both sides and Hamilton does make an interesting point about the ones Anita fights the most are usually ones she loves the most.
A fifteen-year-old girl has been taken hostage by a group of vamps. The oddest group of vamps ever encountered. It’s a trap, but not the one you’re expecting. Still, they have killed two cops and did kidnap the girl. An odd way to aspire to independence from a Master.
All that misinformation about how Masters operate is all going to blow up in their faces. Vampires may be strong, but they still need to be led, they cannot be independent of a Master of the City.
And they’ve made a big mistake coming up against Anita Blake.
Most of this story revolves around Anita Blake in her role as a police consultant helping the Regional Preternatural Investigation Taskforce (RPIT). Her other roles include that of necromancer, a shapeshifter who cannot shift, and, as Jean-Claude’s human servant, is part of a triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard.
Micah Callahan is the Nimir-Ra to Anita’s Nimir-Raj. A leopard king. He’s also the leader of the Furry Coalition and, at this point, pretty much the leader of the entire furry community, which means he’s as busy as Anita. He and Nathaniel Graison, a stripper at Guilty Pleasures, are Anita’s main loves and Nathaniel is part of a triumvirate with Anita and Damian; he’s her leopard to call while Damian is her vampire servant. Cyrnic “Sin”, a blue weretiger, who is having an emotional crisis over Anita; Nicky is her lion to call, the leader of the werelions in St. Louis, and her Bride — the positive is that it settles his sociopathic side; and, Gina and Zeke (leopard and werewolf, respectively) and baby Chance are also living with Anita.
Jean-Claude is the Master of the City of St. Louis and one of Anita’s lovers. Asher is in deep ca-ca with everyone. And about time. Mephistopheles, a.k.a., Devil, is one of the gold weretigers and almost exclusively only Asher’s lover. Jade is a new addition to the harem. Other gold weretigers include Envy who is Devil’s cousin, Pride, Thorn, and Wrath. Damian is now managing Danse Macabre and one of their dancers, Cardinale, is his lover, besides Anita.
Bram (leopard) and Ares (hyena) are some of their their military shifters. Claudia (rat) and Kelly (lioness) are some of the few women guards. Other guards (some are also Anita’s lovers) include Godofredo “God”, Ethan (mixed tiger), Domino (black- and white-tiger), Crispin (white tiger), Lisandro (rat), and Graham. Narcissus, the leader of the werehyenas, loves Asher. Doc Lillian (rat) tends to most of their injuries.
In the RPIT police division, Sergeant Zerbrowski has always been friendly with Anita, even if he does play the lech — he’s pretty happy when Anita spills more than she ever has before. His wife, Katie, loves him, messiness and all. Captain Dolph Storr seems to have come to terms with who and what Anita is (I’m not sure everyone knows Dolph is a captain now as Smith refers to him as “Lieutenant”. Detectives Clive Perry is a very polite cop and Brody Smith, his partner, has some psychic ability. Lieutenant Billings goes a bit overboard and so does Anita when she has to calm him down. Detective Jessica Arnet is still angry with Anita over her “deception” with Nathaniel and she’s threatening Jean-Claude while Detective Tammy Reynolds, a.k.a., the Minister, is married to Larry and is also a witch and a psychic and still fine with Anita.
U.S. Marshal Larry Kirkland has a bug up his ass about Anita. I understand his conflict, but he’s in the wrong business if it’s going to hold him back. U.S. Marshal Arlen Brice is new to St. Louis and the Preternatural Branch. He has a big secret and a preference for Anita’s company rather than Larry’s. A fact that angers Larry no end.
Benjamin is thought to be a European Master vampire; Weiskopf claims to be Benjamin’s human servant. Personally, I think both of them are incredibly naive… It’s the difference between the theory of communism being good while the reality of it is never gonna work. Barney Wilcox is one of his and appears rather clueless. Keith Bores is one of them and takes some time out for personal vengeance.
Richard Zeeman, the Ulfric, was mentioned a few times — he’s teaching at the college-level, now — but we never saw him. Stephen is still panicking about Vanessa wanting children. Nothing about Edward, Otto, or Bernardo.
And the Harlequin are working for Anita and crew and the law has been changed — it’s no longer a death sentence to say…Harlequin.
The Cover and Title
The cover is is a collage of a lingerie-clad Anita lying on her side, looking out at us with a question in her eyes. Kitty corner in the upper right is a man holding a gun just inside an open doorway. Separating the two is an overlay of transparent paper, the words on it running vertically and torn to more clearly reveal Anita.
Well…Anita does Kiss the Dead…