by Kathy Davie
Twenty-second in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter horror/urban fantasy series revolving around The Executioner. A petite little thing vampires fear.
Okaay, seems Hamilton is either taking the criticism of the last few books to heart or had already planned to head back to her earlier style with Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, as there is a definite toning down of the sex-crazed Anita. I don’t think she has sex with more than two men at a time in this one. Although that breath play thing was too much for me… There is a whole lotta love floating around in this one, a lot of appreciating. It’s almost as though everyone is reconnecting, reflecting on what they want and need from each other. Anita is definitely maturing. She’s actually stopping to think, accepting dating advice…from Edward of all people! That scene at the end of the hospital morgue battle when she comforts Dev…and considers what’s happened is priceless.
Oh, this was definitely a chuckle of a story as Micah’s fears are laid to rest about his family, well, in one sense. Who knew how closely life could imitate itself a generation later? Or is that earlier? In other respects, it’s a nightmare. Micah’s dad is rotting to death, some of his family are religious fanatics—they can’t handle a woman living with one man, let alone two! And Micah intends to force the issue that he is living with Anita and Nathaniel.
Events have calmed down quite a bit in Anita’s life, so what I want to know is why it has taken so long for Micah and Anita to go visit his family? And why is it that with all the sturm und drang at the beginning, there’s just nothing from that point on? Sure there’s a drib and a drab, but the whole point was coming to see Micah’s dad, and once we get into the meat of the story, it’s as though they don’t exist.
Gee, gosh, how awful for Anita, LOL, that being head of the American Vampire Council has upped Jean-Claude’s power levels…I sure wouldn’t mind an orgasm just from listening to someone’s voice over the phone…!
Oh, brother, as Anita and Jean-Claude are making plans for her to leave for Denver, the introspection starts up and it’s sweet and nice, but Hamilton keeps at it and at it. Enough already. I enjoyed the speculation about love and monstrosity, and sure, the wonder as to whether how they treat their wereanimals makes a difference to vampire physiology is interesting, but enough with all the self-congratulation!
Then the syrupy bits are suddenly swished away with Jean-Claude’s concern about crossing into rival vampire and wereanimal territory; it was definitely worrisome and upped my tension level.
I’m gonna be picky here, but that paragraph on Micah being a real leopard king, while informative, was too info dumpy. In fact, there are too many scattered dumps at the start as if Hamilton was trying to bring everyone up to speed on the past and got tired of trying to integrate it in. I didn’t like that bit where Anita is fighting to feed the ardeur either. No, I don’t have a problem with that aspect of her metaphysical connection with Jean-Claude. It was the writing of it. It felt superficial. I would have liked some tension in this as opposed to glossing along. I didn’t feel anything but irritated.
So Jean-Claude shows up in Denver to support Anita, but he’s almost not there. We get the one scene—and I do like that latest query he’s made of her. It should be interesting to see how they do handle the choosing of grooms. I have to confess that I hope she drags it out for at least one or two books. But, why is it that Jean-Claude makes this tremendous effort, takes a chance on ticking off the local Master of the City, and all we get is the one scene?
Jesus, what is with all these people and their issues? Micah’s dad is dying and there’s one detective and family who are jumping all over Micah and Anita when all Micah wants to do is see his dad! What’s with Anita correcting Al, who’s known the family forever, on who’s the aunt and who’s the uncle?
Oh, man, cat fight! And I do NOT mean lions, leopards, or tigers…oh, my…LOL. And it seems that holier-than-thou Auntie Bertie is a hypocrite. Actually both Aunt Bertie and Uncle Jamie are hypocrites. They claim to be Christians, and the one thing I’ve found is that the ones who are so vehemently telling you how holy they are, are usually the least Christian [insert your religion of choice here] people on the planet. I sure do love Micah’s response to Uncle Jamie’s comment about marrying first to show your commitment, even if it is awkwardly written. There’s a bit much later on about commitment in which Anita speculates about the purpose of a wedding, if it’s to bring a reassurance to one or both of the participants.
Wow, what a thin line Anita is walking in this one. Unusually, it’s just a few cops who are antagonistic, but add in the family bigots, and Micah’s dad dying…it’s not a happy story even though all the talk of love does help even things out. Still, Anita is more mellow in this, and I’ll be curious as to how the “angel” scene plays out amongst other cops in future.
New issue: Anita’s never been around one of her men when she was fertile and they were in full animal form, and it’s weakening her.
It’s incredible to me that Marshal Hatfield is so clueless about vampires when she’s a part of the Preternatural Branch. Although, in some respects Anita isn’t much better. She’s supposed to be the expert, and she keeps ignoring all the clues that getting dumped on her!
It’s fun seeing Edward warming up, becoming more human. He’s still creepy in how quickly he can switch between Ted and Edward; how easily he distinguishes between what Edward finds acceptable and what Ted would never even consider.
Three-quarters of the way in and there’s a good argument for why cops need to stop worrying about whose turn it is or whose case it is. It’s supposed to be about stopping the bad guys. Frickin’ politics… What’s the deal with Badger? He doesn’t want Anita giving orders, she tells him she’s going back to get her weapons and returns to the scene, and he’s being pissy about her “joining the party”?? He needs to make up his mind.
With all Anita’s worries about PDA in front of cops, she certainly isn’t concerned in this story. As far as the reader can tell (yeah, me), she doesn’t even prep the cops for that final scene with her and the Wicked Truth.
I dunno, there were a number of scenes which caused me to jerk back as I read, wondering how her editor missed these missteps. And yes, I still enjoyed this…very much.
It’s not how Micah wanted to be reunited with his family, not over his father’s rotting body. And with Micah and Anita both being such powerful entities, it leads to all sorts of political issues that must be navigated before they can even set foot in Boulder.
Being a sheriff and wounded in the line of duty, there are plenty of cops from all the flavors of law enforcement who keep vigil on Russ’ hospital room. Just enough to keep an eye on things while more cops are out hunting the zombie that attacked him.
Then the stakes get raised, and Anita, Nathaniel in his panther form, Ares, and Bram head out to the mountains to help the cops track missing people. It’s zombies, but it’s not. It’s not any zombie, even a flesh-eating one that Anita has ever experienced before. And it’s raising an army.
U.S. Marshal Anita Blake is a necromancer, a shapeshifter carrying leopard, wolf, lion, and tiger who cannot shift, a legal vampire executioner, and as Jean-Claude’s human servant, part of a triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard.
Micah Callahan, a leopard shifter and one of Anita’s live-in lovers, is the leader of the Coalition for Better Understanding between humans and shapeshifters, a.k.a., the Furry Coalition. He’s the Nimir-Ra to her Nimir-Raj, leopard king to her leopard queen. Nathaniel Graison, a shapeshifting leopard/stripper who is Micah and Anita’s significant other, is part of a triumvirate with Anita and Damian; he’s also her leopard to call while Damian is her vampire servant.
Rush Callahan, Micah’s dad and a county sheriff, has been divorced from Bea Morgan, Micah’s mom, for twenty-some years. She’s married to Dr. Tyson Morgan, an American literature professor. They have children between them, technically Micah’s half-siblings: Twain, Hawthorne, Frost, and Fen. Jerry is Micah’s furious brother married to Janet, a nurse at the hospital; Beth is their younger sister, who has just graduated with a double major in theology and philosophy. Would’a been fun to see her engage her bigoted aunt and uncle. Juliet, Uncle Steve’s daughter, is married to Ben. Uncle Steve and his son, Richie, were killed in the leopard attack that changed Micah. Aunt Bertie and Uncle Jamie are the most incredible religious bigots—they’re members of the Shepherds of the Flock—who are on the attack as soon as they see Micah. Aunt Jody, who lives with Ginger Dawson, runs a farm with Juliet and her family while Aunt Bobbie (she was Steve’s wife) is a lawyer married to Monty, a judge and one of Steve’s friends (Jody and Bobbie are twins and Rush’s sisters). Esther “Essie” is another cousin, Bertie and Jamie’s daughter.
Local Colorado law enforcement includes:
Deputy Al Truman is an old schoolmate of Micah’s and was Richie’s best friend; Sergeant Michael Horton is a state trooper; Sergeant Ray Gonzales is with Boulder PD—he’s known Micah since he was a baby; the clueless and insulting Detective Rickman is plainclothes and suffering from social dyslexia (that’s a new one and so appropriate!) and works with Ray; Conner is Rickman’s partner; Deputy Gutterman; Commander Walter Burke knows his On Combat; and, Corporal Price.
Cops in the mountains include Officer Hank Travers , who is one of the bigots, but does have a reasonable excuse, at first; Ranger Becker likes Nathaniel’s nickname; Officer Perkins is the medic Anita battles with to get Ares on that chopper; Connors is another with a mouth on him; and, Lawrence is the chopper medic.
Cops at Boulder PD include Marshal Susan Hatfield who is quite belligerent and intends to carry out her warrant of execution; Officer Bush; Carmichael; Detective Bobby MacAllister; Captain Jonas calls Anita onto the carpet after her fight with Rickman; Jenkins; Chief Deputy Marshal Chapman is another bigoted jerk; and, Detective Foster.
The SWAT guys are Officer Yancey “Swan”; Machet “Machete” and Wilson “Willy” served with Little Henry; Sergeant Brock “Badger”; Lindell “Paris” has some issues; and, Shrewsbury “Berry”.
Little Henry and his dad, Henry Crawford, are expert trackers called on by the police.
The guards who come along with Anita on this trip include Mephistopheles, a.k.a., Devil, is Anita’s golden tiger to call, and he is miserable without Asher. Bram (leopard) and Ares (hyena; he’s a scout sniper) are both ex-special forces. 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.
Jean-Claude is the 600-year-old Master of St. Louis and the head of the American Vampire Council (a far cry from the 200-something in Guilty Pleasures that started the series). When he comes to Boulder, he brings Claudia (rat), Lisandro (rat), the Wicked Truth (vampires), Emmanuel, Seamus (shapeshifter with Jane as his Master), Domino (black-and-white tiger), and Socrates (hyena) with him. Mischa was one of the Harlequin’s executioners, Graziano, and he doesn’t like Jean-Claude and has no respect for Anita; Goran is his werebear to call.
Asher has been exiled and is being forced to see if he would be a fit for second-in-command of another city besides St. Louis. The boy has blotted his copybook one too many times. Dulcia is the leader of the werehyenas in this new city, and Asher has screwed up there too. Enough that Jean-Claude considers leaving him to his fate. Kane is a young male werehyena. Requiem is back in town from his stint in Philadelphia, and he may be returning permanently to be Evangeline‘s second. London has been sent out visiting other territories as well. He gains too much power when Anita feeds from him.
Edward the professional assassin, a.k.a., Ted Forrester who is a U.S. Marshal attached to the Preternatural Branch, has some exciting matrimonial news and a special favor to ask of Anita and one of her pard. Donna is the woman he’s living with who thinks Edward is sleeping with Anita, but it’s okay because it’s not Ted. That should make the wedding interesting. Van Cleef is one of the people who helped train Edward at the start in covert ops once Edward had his special ops training. Rush has worked with Van Cleef in the past, and he warns Anita of the military interest in her.
The vampires have names for Edward/Ted is Death, Anita is the Executioner and War; Olaf is Pestilence, and Bernardo is Hunger.
Alfie is the Denver vampire assigned by Fredrico, the Master of Denver, to assist Anita and her people. Dr. Rogers is treating Micah’s dad. Dr. Sheila Shelley is the coroner who doesn’t hesitate to pull rank. Dr. Cross, a vampire, is treating Anita. Macintosh and Miller are two of the hospital’s security guards. Dr. Bill Aimes is trying to help Little Henry.
It is Morte d’Amour, the Lover of Death, one of those whom Marmee Noir was controlling because he would have destroyed everything if left alone. When Anita killed Marmee Noir in Hit List, 20, he got half of Marmee Noir‘s power including her necromancy. He is creating flesh-eating zombies and rotting vampires.
Shepherds of the Flock is an organization of zealots telling victims that they’re animals without souls and therefore an agent of the devil.
The cover is spooky with jagged royal blue paint chips covering a woman’s face, leaving a turquoise eye and perfectly painted, chiseled lips peering through. There’s a shadow of a man on one of those chips. Or is it a vampire…
The title says it all, for it’s an Affliction that plagues the Front Range, one that kills within hours.