Laurell K. Hamilton
Published 1993 266 pages
Anita Blake is an animator. She raises zombies for a living and is also a court appointed vampire executioner. The Anita Blake books are set in a world similar to our own but with one big difference. In Anita’s world, magic, supernatural creatures, vampires, werewolves, zombies and other things that go bump in the night exist (not quite peacefully) along side humans.
Anita lives in St Louis, vampire capital of an America that had recognised vampires as legal beings since a court case ruling two years previously. Bizarrely, the vampires are viewed as a tourist attraction and they own night clubs and bars that make the most out of their freak show attraction status. Also as vampires can only work at night, clubs and bars make good businesses for them to own. (I guess running all night dry cleaners or gas stations wouldn’t have the same ring to it….)
The new legal status of vampires means that they are subject to the laws of the land like anyone else but when vampires go bad they are super human strong and unstoppable. Vampires can not be kept in prison because they are uncontrollable, so once the vampire has been proven guilty it’s the death sentence for them. The vampires know this and it makes them not want to get caught. This is where Anita comes in. She has the natural advantage of being an animator which means that vampires can not easily bespell her with their eyes. She also has the advantages of guns, silver plated ammo and strong religious beliefs. In Anita’s world brandishing a cross at a vampire only works if you have religious faith in the cross. Interestingly crosses aren’t the only things that work against vampires, items from other religions work too as long as there is faith to back then up.
Anita is a specialist consultant with the police. The Regional Preternatural Investigation Team investigates crimes of a supernatural nature. At the start of Guilty Pleasures Anita is asked to investigate a murder, which she establishes is a ghoul attack. She has more problems than trying to find the ghouls responsible. Nickolaos, the master vampire of the city, wants Anita to find out who has been killing vampires in the city and Nickolaos is not the kind of vampire that you can refuse. Add Anita’s psychopathic hit-man friend Edward into the mix (he’s in town to kill Nickolaos) and you just know there is going to be trouble.
I love the early Anita Blake books and this is one of the best. The fast paced narrative, told in first person by Anita, really keeps the story moving. Laurell K Hamilton’s writing style initiates you into Anita’s world with ease. It is a book to savour because it’s not a lengthy book and once you start reading it you don’t want the story to end.
You just can’t help yourself from liking Anita. She lives in a world of monsters, where she has to make decisions that make her wonder if she is becoming one of the monsters too. At the same time because the narrative is in first person, you not only get to hear her fears about the state of her immortal soul but her fears of getting blood on her outfits, how hard it is to get blood off dress shoes and her fears about what her neighbours will think if they see her coming home at three in the morning with her guns drawn. It makes her seem more like a real person and gives her character some depth.
The good news is that if you like this book there are plenty more books in the Anita Blake series to follow it. The bad news is that they are not all as good as this one.
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