Sunday, 24 June 2012
Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
The plot of Kiss the Dead, briefly, is that there's a new kind of vampire in town, one who holds no allegiance to a vampire master (such as Anita's lover, Jean-Claude). These vampires are recruiting indiscriminately, and they are harming humans - in fact, they've kidnapped a young girl. It's hard for the St Louis vampires to believe that this can be happening - it's unthinkable to make vampires and them leave them to their own devices because they can't control their appetites. Jean-Claude thinks this might have happened because the new vampires simply don't appreciate how democratic American vampires are these days, but the important thing is that they have got to be stopped, and that's Anita's job. She'll try to talk them into giving themselves up, but if necessary, she'll kill them. Cue action.
I'm guessing that regular readers of the series are probably going to be pretty happy with this latest offering. There's quite a bit of action, with appropriate weaponry and the occasional whiff of holy water. There's a new angle on Anita's growing powers which is going to cause some difficulty for her various lovers. There's a good deal of angst about the role of the vampire executioner and the heavy responsibility of caring for all the people bound to her in by some means or other. And there's way to much sex. Well, that last is probably a matter of opinion, and I'm sure lots of readers adore it, but frankly, I'm a believer in closed bedroom doors. I don't mind at all that she's sleeping with vampires, weretigers, wererats and what-have-yous, but keep it to yourselves, guys! One sex scene went on for three chapters, which says much for the characters' endurance, but it was beyond mine - I skipped it. What's worse, the concentration on the pleasures of the flesh (yawn) doesn't leave a lot of room for plot, which was slender, and was itself interrupted much too frequently by long explanations about the now huge cast of characters. As each lover appears, his or her relationship to Anita, and consequently to the rest of the tribe, has to be covered in detail, which slows everything down again. Some of this detail appeared more than once, suggesting that the author, too, has begun to find her path being impeded by the depth of treacle that has to be waded through.
But, as I've suggested, Laurell K. Hamilton has a devoted readership and she wouldn't be on book 21 if there weren't plenty of people out there simply gasping for the next instalment. And I did finish it, and I wasn't bored by the action part of the story, even if I did skim over all those slippery bodies. And it's a hell of a lot better written than that nonsense which is doing the rounds at the moment (you know, that 50... thing).
So, if this sounds like your cup of tea, happy reading! If you haven't read any of the earlier Anita Blake books, though, I'd start with the first, Guilty Pleasures. There was definitely more action (as opposed to sex), more fun, and much less soul-searching.
Kiss the Dead is out now in hardback and for Kindle; the paperback edition will be published in the UK on 8 November.