Anita Blake, the tough, sexy vampire executioner, zombie animator, and police consultant for preternatural crimes in St. Louis, hunts monsters in New Mexico in the ninth book of Laurell K. Hamilton's excellent series. Edward, Anita's mentor in slaying, asks Anita to return the favor that she has owed him since she killed a backup he brought in to protect her. He needs Anita's preternatural expertise as well as her firepower. Something is skinning and mutilating a few of its chosen victims, and dismembering others. Edward has no idea what creature could be responsible for such heinous crimes.
Summoning Anita has its downside for Edward, since it means letting her onto his turf. Anita is surprised to find that this normally aggressive man has a personal life, and shocked by his ability to be entirely different from the stone cold killer she's known. She also has problems with the cop in charge in Albuquerque, who believes her powers must be evil, and with the other backups Edward has brought in. Most of all, she has to deal with her own vulnerability--she's tried to shut down her ties to her vampire and werewolf lovers and go it alone, but it turns out to be harder than she thought.
Anita's usual supporting cast is missing, and she's taking time out from her complex love life, but there's plenty of bloody action, vampires, werewolves, and Aztec ritual. Plus a lot more about Edward. Fans will find this installment similar to the earlier books in the series, particularly The Laughing Corpse. --Nona Vero.
From Publishers Weekly
An inhabitant of an alternate Earth very much like our own--except that magic coexists there with natural law, and preternatural beings like vampires and werewolves coexist with humans--Anita Blake is full of contradictions that make her a potent lead character for this continuing series. Although Anita is a licensed vampire executioner, one of her lovers is a vampire (the other is a werewolf); she packs more firepower than a small army, but is a dedicated Christian; she's tough-as-nails yet ultrafeminine; she tangles with seriously dangerous supernatural forces, but she's as matter of fact about dealing with magic as she is about bashing bad guys, and she's as quick with a quip as she is with a well-placed kick to the groin. In her ninth adventure (after Blue Moon), Anita is summoned to New Mexico by Edward (aka "Death"), the cold-blooded killer from previous books to whom she owes a favor. In the course of investigating a series of grotesque murders (victims torn to bloody bits, survivors flayed of all flesh), Edward becomes more human and Anita less so. Celibate for six months, Anita's usual steamy sexual encounters with her inhuman but hunky boyfriends are missing from this novel, but there's still a lot of beefcake to appreciate and the considerable sexual tension is both humorous and supportive of the plot. The gory story line--which wraps around an Aztec vampire goddess, a dwarf necromancer, bull-headed bigoted cops, hearts ripped from chests and a witch who conveniently appears in the nick of time--needs that bit of sustenance, but the book is still a monstrously entertaining read. (Jan.)
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