The Laughing Corpse
Laurell K. Hamilton
Published 1994 293 pages
Anita Blake, animator and vampire executioner, is back. This time she is investigating some gruesome murders where the victims have been ripped into pieces and eaten. She suspects an uncontrollable killer zombie is on a killing rampage. Working with the police she needs to find and stop the zombie before it can kill again. More importantly she needs to find out who raised the zombie and why.
Her investigations take her into the presence of Dominga Salvador, St Louis’s scary voodoo queen. In typical Anita fashion, she and Dominga don’t hit it off and she ends up with the most powerful vaudun priest in America as her enemy.
Just to add to Anita’s troubles, Jean-Claude, the city’s new master vampire wishes to see her and he’s not taking no for an answer….
The Laughing Corpse is Laurell K Hamilton’s second outing into the supernatural side of life in St Louis. I really love her early Anita Blake books and this is one of my favourites. It has every thing in it that a good horror story requires. The horrific, gruesome murder scenes are fairly stomach churning but that is why these are stories are in the horror section of the book store. Anita Blake books are often marketed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a darker side but I think that unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer they are not suitable reading for children.
The bad guys are completely nasty and have evil henchmen who are equally nasty. They are not complex characters with some small redeeming qualities but thoroughly unlikeable people. Their one-dimensional evil bad-guyness (yes, I know this is a made up word but it seemed to fit) enables you to enjoy their grisly fates more at the climax of the story.
The Laughing Corpse further develops the background setting of the supernatural world that Anita lives in. We learn a lot about zombies, ghosts, ghouls and voodoo. The thing I love about Laurell K Hamilton’s books is that through out the whole series we learn more about the weird things that happen in Anita’s world as she does.
The Laughing Corpse develops Anita’s character further too, we learn more about her affinity with the dead, that her talent is inherited and about her first experience of raising the dead accidentally as a child. (Dead family pet comes back from its grave in the garden one night when she’s sleeping.)
Anita’s reluctant relationship with Jean-Claude is continued through this story although it is pretty much a sub plot line in this book. Jean-Claude is now the vampire master of St Louis and he has given Anita two of the four marks that would make her his human servant. She doesn’t want to be anybody’s servant and even though there are some perks to being a vampire’s human servant (such as immortality without having to be dead first) she just isn’t interested.
However, Jean-Claude is super sexy and he’s too powerful to just ignore. Although Anita, an experienced vampire executioner, knows vampires too well to be fooled by his charm and good looks. Which is a shame, because he keeps asking her out and I kind of wish she’d say yes….
All in all, The Laughing Corpse is a fast paced, action-packed page turner. Recommended reading for anybody who likes strong female lead characters with attitude and guns.
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