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Bloody Bones

by Laurell K. Hamilton

paperback edition

It's a bit embarassing to be a devoted fan of a series about "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter." These are gloriously trashy books, although not quite as trashy as their covers indicate. (The Staten Island landfill is not quite as trashy as those covers indicate. Eccch. But at least the later books have covers that are no longer quite so lurid that they interfere with radio transmissions.) They take place in a St. Louis where vampires, werewolves, and lots of less-common supernatural creatures don't just exist -- they vote. The result is an America that seems familiar at first, but grows stranger as you read.

Anita Blake is a professional zombie animator, legal vampire executioner, and civilian expert attached to the police squad in charge of investigating preternatural (and invariably gruesome) crimes. I find the vampire characters rather tiresome, and I dislike the excessive gore. People are always getting disemboweled or having their throats torn out -- if I lived in this world, I'd never leave home without a full Kevlar bodysuit. But Anita is a very engaging narrator who stays alive through sheer paranoia, and she's very believable: she runs out of bullets, she gets beaten up, she accumulates scars and bruises. Of course, she also sacrifices goats and chickens and raises entire cemetaries full of decaying zombies. I have a sliding scale of standards for believability.

The latest book in the series is Bloody Bones. Having already intimidated, killed, or dated every monster in St. Louis, Anita has to travel out to the Ozarks to find a new challenge. A high-powered lawyer hires her to animate an entire churned-up graveyard, and some really gruesome murders just happen to occur while she's there, and of course she gets to deal with New and Even Scarier Vampires. (Why is it that every time Anita meets a new vampire, it's the Scariest Vampire Ever? The vampires are getting rather boring, and it's not as if this world lacks a variety of monsters.)

Hamilton does finally present us with a monster that doesn't dress like it just escaped from a Madonna video. (No, not the lawyer.) No sign of Edward the Friendly Neighborhood Bounty Hunter, unfortunately. Bummer.

As usual, Anita winds up with a body count for both sides that would do Honor Harrington proud. There's more carnage than I care for, and the plot isn't terribly coherent, but it's lots of fun. Come to think of it, that's how I feel about every book in the series. If you've already read the first four, go pester your bookseller. If you haven't tried them yet, start with Guilty Pleasures. And while you're in the 'H' shelves, if you like these books, I'd also recommend Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson books: Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact, and Blood Debt.

-- Christina Schulman.
Reviewed in
September 1996

paperback edition
Publisher: Ace
Date: October 1996
ISBN: 0-441-00374-5
Binding: paperback
Price: US $5.99, Canada $7.99

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