Book 20 in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, published June 2011.
A serial killer is hunting the Pacific Northwest, murdering victims in a gruesome and spectacular way. The local police suspect "monsters" are involved, and have called in Anita Blake and Edward, US Marshals who really know their monsters, to catch the killer.
But some monsters are very real. The Harlequin have been the bogeymen of the vampire world for more than a thousand years; they are a secret so dark that even to speak their name can earn you a death sentence. Now they are here in America, hunting weretigers, and human police.
The Harlequin serve the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire. She was supposed to be dead, but only her body was destroyed. Now she needs a new one, and she's decided that Anita Blake's is the body she wants. Edward thinks the serial killings are a trap to lure Anita closer to the most dangerous vampire they've ever hunted. The vampires call Edward "Death," and Anita the "Executioner," but Mommy Darkest is coming to kill one, and possess the other, and she doesn't care how many others have to die along the way.
Wow, this is one sexy cover, and more appropriate for the Merry Gentry series! I don’t know who the model is supposed to be, but it certainly is not Anita herself!
I am still madly in love with this series, and was surprised at how fast I read the book. It wish it would have gone on for a few more hours! Of course, then I would have needed some matches to keep my eyelids propped open at the office today …
Marshal Anita Blake and Marshal Ted Forrester (bka Edward) are following the trail of a mutilating serial killer through America, and have just landed in Seattle. Anita has never been this long away from Saint Louis, and she really misses her men. She is sick and tired of the killing, of the policemen who don’t take her seriously and think she just sleeps her way around. Both with the monsters, and with the other cops, except themselves. Yes, her boyfriends are vampires and shapeshifters, but that is not why they are her boyfriends. Perhaps the Ardeur made it all easier, but she loves everyone of them.
Marshal Raborn really dislikes Anita, and accuses her almost of sleeping with the monsters being the reason she has so many skills. He wants her to tell him about the were-animals in his own city, but Anita sure does not want to betray their trust to a bigot like Raborn. Sure, Seattle has a were-tiger clan, her red tiger to call Alex is their prince. So when she realises she hasn’t fed the Ardeur in a while, and it is affecting her work and her mood to much, she decides to go on a booty call. Edward is not so happy with it.
The Harlequin is murdering were-tigers left and right, just to lure Anita away from St Louis and the center of her power. They are hunting her, and she needs some bodyguards from preventing them to snatch her, as the new body for the Mother of all Darkness. Going alone to the tigers is not something he will allow. So when the other marshals go on a doomed to fail hunt for the monsters, Edward and Anita are off to visit the local tiger clan. The queen is not really happy with Anita seducing her son away, so she tries to stall them. And Anita is getting really attracted to one of the guards. He has multiple tigers inside of him, she can smell it, and her own tigers are very happy with him as well. But just when they are about to become intimate, Alex bursts in on them, very unhappy. Anita is his! But his anger is way over the top, he has no real claim on Anita. Another guard joins the fight, and he is just way too fast to be a were-animal, he is of the Harlequin! And now they have found Anita again.
What follows is a fast paced book, filled with lots of action, but also long dialogues. Where the guards from St. Louis have arrived to help Anita, but Edward also called for Bernardo Spotted Horse and Olaf! And Olaf sure has changed! Anita is scared of him, but has to play nice. He cannot ever find out she is terrified of him, or he will stop seeing her as a girlfriend, and start seeing her as his next victim, again.
And the ending of the book, wow. Captured by the Harlequin, fighting with her back to the wall (literally), she has to deal with Mommy Dearest, who wants to take over her body. Now Anita has to risk everything and everyone she holds dear in one last desperate attempt. What a great ending of this book, now I have no idea anymore where this series will go to next. And Olaf? He is even scarier now then he was before!
As I said before, I love this series. It is one of the series I go to when in need of comfort. Rereading some favourites, or just parts of them. It is a world I get really swept into. I like Anita a lot. If you follow her from the start, you just have to like her. Even though metaphysics have turned her into a love machine and guy magnet, in her heart she is still the prude country girl. She doesn’t do casual sex or nudity, and is still not comfortable with it.
We learn a bit more about Edward in this book. There are only 2 love scenes in the book, which is very modest for this series.
I really did miss all of her men, although not really all the emotional upkeep necessary with so many relationships going on. But Jean-Claude is my favourite vampire persona ever, and he only had a few sentences in the end of the book. I hope she will stay at home for the next book again, and help Jean-Claude with his vampire imperium.