Reading level: Ages 18 and up | Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Book 21)
When a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to find her. And when she does, she’s faced with something she’s never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people—kids, grandparents, soccer moms—all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving a master. And where there’s one martyr, there will be more…
But even vampires have monsters that they’re afraid of. And Anita is one of them…
About the Author
Laurell K. Hamilton is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two series that mix mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. Her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels from Berkley Books began with GUILTY PLEASURES (now a hugely successful graphic novel from Marvel – the first sexy paranormal comic ever!) and continues with the SKIN TRADE, number seventeen in the series, in which Anita’s complex personal and professional relationships with a master vampire and an alpha werewolf continue to evolve. There are now more than 6 million copies of Anita in print worldwide, in 16 languages. Hamilton’s Ballantine series features Fey princess and private investigator, Merry Gentry and there are now six novels exceeding one million copies in print. Divine Misdemeanors, the eighth in the series will debut Octobe 29, 2009. She lives in St. Louis County Missouri with her husband Jonathon Green, daughter, one pug dog and one boxer/pug dog.
As “Kiss the Dead” opens, Anita is back in the middle of a case with RPIT and the local SWAT team. It feels to me like it’s been quite a few books since we’ve had a meaty case at home in St. Louis. I want to say since they went after Vittorio and crew in “Incubus Dreams“. Of the eight books between “Incubus Dreams” and “Kiss the Dead”, four were out of town, and I believe the other four were all vampire/furry politics. So it really has been some time since we’ve seen Anita playing Federal Marshall on her own turf.
The first half of the book is all vampire hunting with RPIT. Zerbrowski and Anita are now basically working as partners. Dolph is back and has worked out most of his issues with Anita. We also meet the newest vampire executioner, U.S. Marshal Arlen Brice. I really like Brice. If he stays around long term, I think he’ll be a nice addition to the overall cast. (FYI: Brice is the only new character that shows any signs of sticking around.)
Plot wise, RPIT is looking for a group of vampires who kidnapped a child and are planning to turn her. The vampires they find are a hodgepodge of young vampires (under 50 years dead), most of whom were turned when they were physically too young or too old. The other thing that stands out about the vampires is that they’re not tied to a master, and they’re not in any way connected to the Church of Eternal Life.
On the more personal side of things, it’s been a year since the tigers came to St. Louis in “Bullet”. Crispen, Domino, Jade, and the gold tigers (Envy, Devil, Pride, and Wrath) are all still living in the Circus. Cynric has moved back home with Anita, Nathaniel, and Micah.
Cynric and Nathaniel have bonded like brothers and, aside from his innocence, Cynric is starting to hit Anita’s radar the way Nathaniel once did. (My impression, not something spelled out in the text.) If I had to guess, I’d say Cynric will stay around, if only for Nathaniel’s sake.
For those who like statistics, the only “main” characters which were not on stage were the werewolves. While Richard doesn’t usually hang around the Circus, it felt odd not to even see Jason in passing. (I adore Jason.)
As to sexual content, there were three sex scenes in the book. Of the three, one disturbed me a bit. Not the physical sex, but the emotional connection. I thought this was one of the men only there to feed the ardeur, someone Anita tolerated, but didn’t particularly like. Well, suddenly he’s being mentioned among the list of men Anita loves. I feel like I missed something. Of all the newer men, this is the last person I would have thought Anita would have bonded with.
My biggest wish list for future books is to see some of the recently added werecats sent on their way, including the man I was just discussing. I enjoy Anita’s unconventional love life, but there are just too many men hovering in the wings. I just hope the one man who showed signs of leaving isn’t one who stays gone.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The writing style of this series is among the most immersive I’ve come across. I always enjoy getting lost in an Anita Blake book. I was particularly happy that we were back in St. Louis. Unless at least one of the major cast members comes along, I never really enjoy the out-of-town books as much. It was a pleasure to get some quality time with both Anita’s RPIT family and her vampire/lycanthrope family.