Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Dead Ice

Posted July 17, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Dead IceDead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton
is a Horror, Urban Fantasy
This edition was published by Berkley on June 9, 2015 in hardcover and has 576 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon..

three-stars

Twenty-fourth in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter horror/urban fantasy series and revolving around Anita, a necromancer engaged to a vampire in St. Louis, Missouri. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books on my website.

My Take

There are two principal conflicts in Dead Ice: Anita, Jean-Claude, Micah, and Nathaniel’s commitment ceremony and the anger this stirs up among their other lovers and the rogue zombie raiser. Outside of this, the story is a bridge as Hamilton prepares the ground for the next set of issues and problems that are stirred up in this as well as a few loose ends that come up in Dead Ice. Asher is probably the biggest of the loose ends. He has screwed up big time and has possibly burned too many bridges. That Kane. Oh. Boy. Narcissus also finds out his ranking in the crowd, and it’s a big crowd that encompasses his own hyenas. Domino is having issues in this story as well. And what is Susannah’s problem?? Has she never been around men before?

The recaps include the conflict in Laughing Corpse, 2; The Killing Dance, 6; Skin Trade, 17 (and Anita realizes why Cynric makes her so uncomfortable); Flirt, 18; and, more detail on Nathaniel’s childhood history and his time with Gabriel.

There was a flatness to this, a tiredness. Sure, Anita has her encounters with the FBI and their nasty attitudes. But it feels half-hearted. I’m not sure if it’s becoming too familiar or if Hamilton’s heart wasn’t in this one. Hamilton stretches this out too. Waaay out.

The FBI certainly are a bunch of weasels. They don’t trust her because she’s dating Jean-Claude, AND she still has the highest kill-count. Ahem. They do like that she files official complaints with the police about zombie-raising requests. And that she has been instrumental in getting better laws passed.

Anita’s attitude about the whole proposal-engagement-wedding-commitment ceremony…whew, I’m exhausted… does crack me up. She’s having to give in to Jean-Claude’s love for theater on this. It gives Nathaniel all sorts of ideas, and I suspect Anita is going to have come up with some romantic extravaganza for him. That should be fun.

Zerbrowski’s reveal to Anita was sweet. And so very him. Nathaniel has his concerns about adding more people to their commitment ceremony, and he makes a beautiful statement to Anita that their domestic happiness is much more important than his virtue. There were a few other reveals in here that were mind-blowing: Larry’s about-face as well as Rosita’s! Nicky has his own reveal about why he’s so happy. He does have some interesting points about being a sociopath too.

More sweet — and some good insight on why old vampires are so damn mean — is Anita’s take on Jean-Claude’s emphasis on domestic happiness versus the disapproval of Jean-Claude’s methods by the Harlequin. And an excellent point about what leads to boredom. One that is true about vampires as well as people who retire from their jobs and have nothing to do. One we should probably keep in mind in our own lives.

I do not understand Manning attacking Anita. She’s in St. Louis to get Anita’s help and then she goes after her verbally. Then there are Gillingham’s “attacks” on Anita, why is Anita helping her improve? I am so seeing the FBI as the enemy here.

Somehow I missed Larry hating Anita this much. I knew he very strongly disapproved and thought she was a monster. But that he hated her as much as this? Whoa. Seems kinda odd that he and Anita “stopped being friends when [Anita] stopped taking the morgue kills he felt morally bad about”. Um, this sounds more like they were on the same page. Yeah, I do know that he has his issues about Jean-Claude as well as Anita’s trigger-happy approach, which just happens to keep her alive. It’s not like the criminals she goes after are the regular run-of-the-mill humans!

Somebody needs to tell Anita that there’s this thing called insurance. If she loses a stone, she can get it replaced.

I was really getting annoyed with “I can’t”. Bloody hell, woman, just try!! I mean, everything is up in the air in this story, so obviously the usual doesn’t apply! Smack that twit! She’s not usually such a weasel. Well, unless it comes to romance.

Ooh, I do like the diatribe about the “normal” people getting the freak shows closed down. How morally superior they get to feel when the freaks lose their jobs and can’t get “normal” jobs in the outside world. I do hate people like that who try to project their idea of “normal” onto others.

“…in the bedroom you’re the gay male equivalent of missionary position with the lights off.”

Clever idea about the passwords.

I’m trying to think what this means about me that I enjoyed that shower scene when Ricky is sexually harassing Anita and how she puts the screws to him. Seems he doesn’t like to be called “puppy”.

I suspect the scene with Irene and Melchior as Anita flexes her psychic muscles was a necessary one to help promote Anita as a queen, but it was ham handed. I’m glad Anita did it for Irene’s sake, but Hamilton needed to pay more attention to how she wrote this. I suspect this scene and the zombie and ghoul scene are supposed to be setting us up for whatever happens in book 25.

When you consider Anita’s attitude toward Jean-Claude for the first few books and her attitude now, well, I can’t help but laugh as she talks about getting new bras. Another attitude evolution I’m relieved about is Anita realizing when her men are managing her. Yeah, it still ticks her off, but she also understands why they’re doing it. It’s a step forward.

The zombie that Anita raises does indeed raise questions about her power levels. In some respects. What I don’t understand is why she needed a cow at all. She’s already proven she can raise whole cemeteries without a large animal. Then she lets the people who hired her take the zombie home for the night? I thought she always waited for them to ask their questions and then she put the zombie back? That same night? And what’s with those historians thinking Thomas isn’t a zombie just ’cause he wants some bacon and eggs? Duh… It did make me cry for Thomas though. He finally finds what he sought when he was alive, and he can’t have it. And he is so very much a gentleman in this, which only makes me want to cry more.

I just got to thinking about the BDSM-angle in this series. It’s like one big info “dump”, but done so well as a story that demonstrates the many facets of bondage, dominance, and submission. It’s an excellent example of show and how to craft a way of informing your readers, even if it has been a series-long one *grin*.

Yep, Hamilton is going way out there. A new wrinkle on the uses of psychic talents is via electronics. Just touching the screen enables Anita to direct a zombie. There’s a theory posited that it might be one reason why geeks love being on the computer *eyebrow waggle*

There are a lot of loose threads here, enticing us into counting down the days to #25. What will happen with Asher and Kane; the fourth choice; Rafael; Dev and Micah’s power hike; how will Narcissus evolve; what’s up with Domino; and most important, why are Anita’s power levels rising!?

The Story

As much as Anita loves being engaged to Jean-Claude, it doesn’t come without complications, and it’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass. Especially with the FBI.

Unfortunately for them, Anita is still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn with women whose souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

The Characters

Anita Blake is engaged to Jean-Claude and planning a commitment ceremony with him, Micah, and Nathaniel. She’s also a U.S. Marshal for the Preternatural Branch by day and an animator by night. Then there are her shapeshifter possibilities. Some think she’s a panwere as she absorbs the animal of everyone that bites her, but can’t shift into any of them. She still serves as the Pack’s Bolverk, and she’s Regina to the lions. Jenny is the childhood dog Anita raised from the dead. Grandmother Flores is her maternal grandmother and taught Anita about her psychic abilities. Judith is Anita’s stepmother.

The six hundred-plus-year-old Jean-Claude is the vampire Master of St. Louis…and the rest of the United States. Cynric, I mean, Sin, is 19 now and very much a fourth in Anita’s household arrangements, although he still makes Anita feel squicky. Nicky is a sociopath that Anita turned into her Bride in Flirt. He’s now the Rex of the werelions in St. Louis. Jade is the lesbian tiger who fears men and is very insecure in herself.

Micah is Anita’s Nimir-Ra to Anita’s Nimir-Raj. He’s also the head of the Furry Coalition which tries to keep the peace among shapeshifters as well as between the shapeshifters and the humans. And Anita learns more about the problems Micah has in dealing with groups outside of St. Louis as well as how important Micah has become to Jean-Claude. Nathaniel is another of the leopards and a stripper at Guilty Pleasures. He and Micah are Anita’s most-loved along with Jean-Claude. Bram, a werehyena, is Micah’s main bodyguard. Elizabeth and Caleb are part of their leopard pard.

The Circus of the Damned is…

…a circus of entertainment of supernatural creatures including Melanie, the lamia. Asher is Jean-Claude’s great love, the circus’ ringmaster, and technically Jean-Claude’s témoin, his second-in-command. In truth, he’s more like fourth since Micah and Anita have taken over so much of what he should be doing. To be fair, they did take it over when he was exiled in Kiss the Dead, 21. He’s also a whiny, selfish, insecure vampire who thinks with his heart. Kane is his selfish, nasty, little werehyena lover who is disrupting everything. Meng Die, a vampire, is very ambitious, and Jean-Claude is looking for a territory for her. Byron is a gay vampire.

The guards are…
…a mix of shapeshifters. Claudia, a wererat, is one of the leaders along with Fredo, another wererat who is very experienced with knives. Socrates is a werehyena and a former police detective trying to get his old job back. He lost his partner, Ares, in Affliction, 22. Lisandro is a wererat and happily married. Dino an out-of-shape guard. Kelly Reeder is a beleagured werelion being challenged continuously by Magda one of the two Harlequin lions. Giacomo is another of the Harlequin lions. Rosamund is another of the lionesses but is content to be treated as a girl. The scholarly Travis is still alive thanks to a great idea he had that would help Nicky.

Rafael is the leader of the wererats and was challenged to a fight for the kingship. Dr. Lillian is a wererat and the community doctor. Lita is a new wererat guard from L.A. with attitude problems. I did enjoy Anita’s “lesson”, lol. How Lita could be so stupid, I’ll never know. Benito is one of Rafael’s bodyguards. Pepita “Peppy” is another new guard from L.A. Ricky is one stupid new werewolf guard. Graham and Clay are more werewolves and guards.

Crispin and Domino are two of the other tigers from Las Vegas in Skin Trade.

Mephistopheles, a.k.a., Devil, but preferring Dev, is truly bisexual and a golden tiger who is in love with Asher. Good Angel is Dev’s twin, and Anita dislikes her because she always manages to be mean, even when she’s trying to be kind. Thorn is one of the golden tigers and a real pain in the butt. Envy is another tiger but doesn’t share well. She also needs to be the prettier half of a pair. Adam is a lawyer.

Echo is a vampire with Fortune as her tiger to call, and both are interested in being considered as part of Anita’s polyamorous group.

Richard Zeeman is still Ulfric of the local pack and still looking for a lupa. He now plays a more willing part (thank god) of the triumvirate he’s in with Jean-Claude and Anita. He still visits Anita’s bed and dominates Asher. Shang-Da and Jamil are still his main bodyguards. Jason (Anita’s werewolf to call) and J.J. are mentioned in here but don’t appear; they’re experiencing their own variety of bliss.

Narcissus is the cross-dressing hermaphoditic Oba of the hyena clan. He’s also in love with Asher. Seamus is Harlequin Jane‘s hyena to call.

RIPT is…
…the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, a special division within the St. Louis PD. Lieutenant Dolph Storr doesn’t appear in this one. Instead we have Sergeant Zerbrowski…always a treat and a laugh, especially with those choo-choo jammies. Eddie and Susanna (she’s his daughter) are the “exterminators” with the big flame throwers.

SWAT suits up…
…when they confront Sir. Killian, Hill, Saville, Hermes, Montague “Monty“, Sergeant Hudson is still there, Sutton is their sniper, and Jung are part of the team.

FBI
Special Agent Brenda Manning is caught between a rock and a hard place in this. On one hand, she admires Anita. Or should I say envies? And has to deal with the distrust of Anita from her superiors. On the other, she’s a whole lotta FBI. Special Agent Mark Brent is her partner and a computer whizz with a psychic talent. Special Agent Teresa Gillingham is a practitioner more interested in testing Anita. Very Special Agent Jarvis is a prejudiced jerkwad.

Larry Kirkland is with the FBI these days and is still a U.S. Marshall. Anita had trained him when he worked at Animators, Inc. as an animator.

Manuel “Manny” Rodriguez was the animator who taught Anita the ropes about raising the dead and battling vampires. He and Anita are employed at Animators, Inc., and Bert is their business manager. Rosita is Manny’s worried wife. They’re planning the wedding of their daughter, Consuela. Tomas is his teenaged son. Anne works at Pearls of Happiness, the bridal shop where Consuela got her dress.

Ruthie Sylvester is the zombie who is being abused by Sir, the rogue zombie raiser. Estrella was Sir’s fiancée before she rejected him.

Dominga Salvador was a vaudun priestess and a nasty, nasty woman whom we met in Laughing Corpse. She had two nephews: Artie is a bad seed and Max was a good kid.

Irene is the human servant of Melchior. Both are jewelers and masters of their art. Ethel Willis, Owen MacDougal, Patrick, Bob (he and Patrick are recording everything) and Justine are an historical group who wish Anita to raise Thomas James Warrington for answers about his time period. Charlie was part of an expedition with Warrington.

Marianne, Anita’s spiritual mentor and accidental therapist, is mentioned along with Malcolm, the head of the Church of Eternal Life. Marmee Noir and Vittorio, the Father of Tigers, are mentioned (see Skin Trade for their story).

The Cover and Title

The cover is very icy in its pale grays and frost etching over the face of a beautiful dead woman trapped under that ice. There’s something about the white surrounding her that makes me think bridal…

I have no idea what inspired the title. Perhaps it’s how Anita views the ostentatious ring Jean-Claude wants her to wear as a wedding ring, Dead Ice.

three-stars

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