by Laurell K. Hamilton
I know I’m a little late to the trend, but I’m loving the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. Written by Laurell K. Hamilton, they are early urban fantasy-mystery books that started in 1993 and follow twenty-something Blake, a legal vampire executioner and zombie raiser.
Guilty Pleasures, the first book, finds Blake blackmailed by the Master of the City into investigating the murders of several vampires. Blake, who is known as “The Executioner” by the vampires due to her many successful kills, is forced to cooperate with the sexy and mysterious Jean-Claude, the vampire owner of the male strip club Guilty Pleasures. Yes, that sounds like a romance, but the primary plot line is that of a gritty, fast-paced mystery. This is the kind of book you plan your weekend around so you won’t get interrupted until you find out who the culprit is.
(On a side note, I’m happy to say our in-store copy has a what I like to think of as the ‘freaky instruments’ version of the cover, featuring a faintly disturbing picture of what appears to be a drill bit. While those covers definitely get farther along the frightening scale [saw blades, forceps, straight razors], my favorite so far is the cover of Circus of the Damned which features, ahem, a fork. Yep. A scary fork. Whoever thought that one up...well, you certainly made my day.)
The series is still running (twenty-five books not counting novellas and comic book adaptations). Though I haven’t finished it yet, I’m loving how Blake and the plot arcs evolve, getting sexier and darker to the point that I had to take a breather from the series after a particularly devastating one (I’m looking at you, Obsidian Butterfly). Blake is a capable, no-nonsense heroine with a troubled moral center and Hamilton does a great job writing a book you can’t put down.
So if you’re looking for the grown-up version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or just a book that will leaving you reeling and breathless, Guilty Pleasures is right up your alley. But watch out, it might be armed with a scary fork.
-Katta Hules, Magus Minion
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