Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s The Laughing Corpse

Posted September 5, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s The Laughing Corpse

The Laughing Corpse


Laurell K. Hamilton

erotic romance, urban fantasy that was published by Berkley on September 2002 and has 304 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have 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, Kiss the Dead, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, 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

Second in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter horror/urban fantasy series revolving around a petite vampire hunter the vampires call The Executioner. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, and it’s been a month since Guilty Pleasures, 1.

My Take

Anita is still working on zombie rights, ironic considering that some crazed zombie is running amuck and tearing people into little pieces.

It’s hard to get away from zombies when Anita is an animator, raising people from the dead as zombies, and the emphasis is intense on those zombies in this story.

Then Anita meets Señora Salvador’s creations: the non-rotting corpses who have been trapped. Them combined with la Señora’s testing and poking is enough to make me side with Grandma Flores about the combination of voodoo and necromancy as a bad idea.

It’s bad enough with just Dominga, but then Anita learns the truth of Manny’s time with her. Oh, boy. I have to agree with Anita that it’s pretty bad, but she was raised Catholic. As much as I deplore the way in which confession is generally used, the concept of it as an avenue of forgiveness if you truly repent is a good one. I don’t understand why Anita is so vehemently mean to Manny when it’s so obvious that he regrets that time with Dominga.

Ya know, I was gonna rant about Gaynor and Tommy’s inability to realize that other people might have principles, a perspective, that is different from theirs. But then I realize that I’m doing the same thing. Expecting Gaynor and his crew to share my principles.

I do like Anita’s snark such as the comment she makes about waiters never asking a portly man if he wants diet Coke, but always asking a woman. What’s with that?

Jean-Claude may desire Anita as a “man”, but he’s applying the pressure for her to take the next two marks as his human servant. It’s still very much a power play in this even as Anita is slowly falling for him. He wants to be known as the vampire who caught The Executioner, and he promises Anita that only he and she have to know the truth.

“Whenever I have delusions of life. I have only to look into your face and see the truth.”

Wow, that interview with Wanda was spooky. Let alone Wanda’s fear of Gaynor, there’s Anita’s realization of what Wanda’s business life is like. Which isn’t half as awful as what Anita learns about a particular type of zombie that’s raised from the dead.

Creepy…as Anita walks a graveyard, probing for information, ghosties are grabbing at her ankles.

It’s useful, going back and reviewing a series that I’ve read a few times already as I can see what Hamilton has done to move the series along — definitely no insta-love here. There’s the underlying premise of Jean-Claude’s pursuit of Anita for his own purposes. Anita’s firm moral stand on vampires and zombies is slowly beginning to crumble — for one, she’s attracted to a vampire.

(Hamilton has used the past two stories (this one included) to set the background and the surface issues involved. She’s creating current-story characters against which she is slowly introducing us to the type of characters within the series.)

What I like about the strong-willed Anita is she’s willing to accept when she’s wrong even if she does acknowledge it by kicking and screaming. She’s not a girly-girl. She holds fast to her morals, and she goes against the norm.

This is a scary one for me. A combination of the killer zombie’s realization of who he is and what he has done along with the people who have made his “awakening” possible. And their reasons why…! Ick!!! Major ick!!

If you want action, read The Laughing Corpse. You will not lack for it!

The Story

There are four factions after Anita. Harold Gaynor is intent on her raising a 300-years-dead person for him. The problem is that a “white goat” is required, and Gaynor will not take no for an answer. Sergeant Storr is calling on Anita too often to examine murder scenes. Scenes that result in dead babies and appear to involve zombies. If it does, it’s not acting like any zombie Anita has ever encountered in her, admittedly short, life as a professional animator. It means that Anita must call on Dominga Sandoval, a practitioner of voodoo as she can think of no one else who would have the necessary knowledge of what zombies could do. And who might be raising such a one. Pissing off Señora Sandoval could result in some deadly visitors for Anita.

The fourth is Jean-Claude. He has spread word that Anita is to be told he wants to see her…and the longer she puts it off, the greater the possibility that order will be escalated to kidnap her.

And the worst complication of all…Anita is forced to be a bridesmaid in Catherine’s wedding. The things one does for friends…arghhhh, all this girly stuff…!

The Characters

Anita Blake is a powerful animator of the dead, a necromancer, who works at Animators, Inc.; she’s also on retainer with RPIT as part of Bert’s marketing plan. Judith is her annoying stepmother. Grandma Flores, her maternal grandmother, had been a voodoo priestess and animator. Veronica “Ronnie” Sims is a private detective and Anita’s friend.

Manny Rodriguez is a fellow animator and Anita’s mentor, who works alongside her at Animators, Inc. Anita has promised Rosita, his wife, to not take him on vampire hunts anymore. I sure hope Rosita doesn’t know the truth about Manny’s relationship with Dominga! Bert Vaughn is her tall, good-looking, ex-football-playing boss who’s more interested in money than health or safety. Anita reckons Bert’s idea of sex is money. The big, bad-looking Charles Montgomery is a fellow animator who is really a marshmallow; he uses his wife, Caroline, as a safe place. Mary is the daytime secretary. Jamison Clarke is an animator who believes vampires are sweet. Evans is a clairvoyant trying to get out of the business.

Sergeant Dolph Storr is the head of the new task force, the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT). Sergeant Zerbrowski is his snarky, messy second. Detective Clive Perry is very dapper and polite. Merlioni takes a bet that he can hold out better at a crime scene than Anita. Dr. Marian Saville is the chief medical examiner. Officers Ki and Roberts were along for the penultimate zombie hunt.

Jean-Claude is the Master of the City, but it’s still only known amongst the vampires. Willie McCoy is a newbie vamp, who’s managing the Laughing Corpse now; Anita knew him when he was human. So much for his thinking it would be a step up. The Amazing Albert and his pet zombie, Ernie, are a scream as a comedy act.

Irving Griswold is a short reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And a werewolf. Dead Dave is an ex-cop who got bitten on the job, so they “retired” him. Now he runs a bar with Luther as his day guy, and where Anita runs interference. Dead Dave’s is in the same neck of the woods as several vampire-run businesses: the polite name is the Riverfront while the rude version is the Blood Quarter.

Dominga Salvador is the very powerful voodoo priest for the entire Midwest and damn scary with it. Antonio is her grandson, one of her bodyguards, and a jerky kid with a mouth. Enzo is another bodyguard and relative.

Peter Burke was an animator, and it’s his funeral that Anita attends. John Burke is Peter’s brother and another animator and vampire slayer, actually he’s pretty famous down in New Orleans.

The very wealthy and ruthless Harold Gaynor is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Tommy is his huge brute of a bodyguard while Bruno is the slender one. Cicely is his deaf bombshell of a girlfriend with a really sadistic streak. Pete, a.k.a., Fatty, and Seymour have been hired to pick Anita up. Suckers.

Catherine Maison is a lawyer friend of Anita’s who’s getting married, and Anita is one of the bridesmaids. Wait’ll you read what she has to say about the dress… And poor Mrs. Cassidy‘s condundrum about making Anita’s scars “presentable”. Elsie Markowitz and her daughter, Kasey, are in the wedding as well: bridesmaid and flower girl. Kasey echoes Anita’s opinions.

The Cover and Title

The cover makes me think of Silence of the Lambs. Another creepy horror story brought to mind by the vintage, rusty ice hook? grabber? against a backdrop of a peach-toned sheaf of papers.

The title is a comedy club, and it’s dark in so many ways, the Laughing Corpse.