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The Harlequin (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 15) Hardcover – June 5, 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 383 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of bestseller Hamilton's solid 15th adventure to star vampire hunter Anita Blake, Malcolm, the priggish head of the Church of the Eternal Life (the vampire church), is so desperate for help in dealing with the Harlequin, a troop of vampire enforcers and spies so feared vampires are forbidden to speak its name, he turns to those he considers sinful and corrupt—Anita and her sweetie, Jean-Claude, St. Louis's Master of the City. The Harlequin may have targeted Anita and the powerful triumvirate she has forged with Jean-Claude and Richard Zeeman (aka Ulfric of the werewolves). According to the rules, the Harlequin must make contact through delivery of a mask—white to indicate they are watching, red for pain, black for death. Anita receives a white mask, but the members of the Harlequin aren't playing by the rules. Shorter and more tightly structured than the previous entry in the series, Danse Macabre (2006), Hamilton's latest should prove more satisfying to longtime fans with its straightforward supernatural politics and steamy (but not extreme) sex.
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"Hamilton just keeps getting better and better. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Her books outsell any other current vampire fiction -- Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; First Edition edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425217248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425217245
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (383 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Understand, Laurell K. Hamilton has been shuffled onto my list of "2 hour" writers along with R.A. Salvatore. This means that they were both writers that I once loved, but whose books have become so tragically dull that I no longer buy them. Instead, I go into a bookstore with a coffee shop, and I give them two hours to convince me that they have kickstarted themselves, and no longer write dull books. I've just given up on Salvatore. But I still keep hoping for Hamilton. I love the characters in her Anita Blake novels.

I must give Hamilton credit. I stopped buying her books after Obsidian Butterfly. Well, okay. I admit I bought Micah because I saw a used paperback. But I won't talk about that.

This book fooled me. The first 50 pages sounded like the old books. Nobody even had sex! Yay! So I plunked down the cash, and bought a paperback.

What followed was a long string of conversations about sex. Then, about 150 pages in, Anita starts having sex. And once she gets going, there is no stopping her. She beds Richard. She beds the Swan King. She beds the Rat King. She has lesbian dream sex. And then she talks about it. And talks about it.

The Harlequin, who are supposed to drive the action in this book, and give it a title, aren't so much present in the foreground. They are more like explosions in the background during a sex-driven 2-dimensional romance novel set against the backdrop of a war. You don't even see them until the last 50 pages of the book.

You'd think that her calling in Edward - one of my favorite characters in the Hamilton mythology - might salvage things, but the first time he runs off to fight something major, Blake falls unconscious and we only hear about it later. Retold in the third person.
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Format: Hardcover
The Anita Blake series started off well, continued for awhile, then took a sharp plunge down into the literary abyss of bad porn.

Well, "The Harlequin" scrabbles PARTLY back out of that abyss, but Laurell K. Hamilton's fifteenth Blake book still suffers from a surfeit of squickly sex, constant sexual ramblings, and a promising plot that gets swamped by the sex-with-Anitacentric politics of vampires and weres.

First a vamp cleric tells her of a threat so terrible that he can't name it, then a movie night with Nathaniel leads to a strange warning -- a white mask. Jean-Claude reveals that it's the warning of the Harlequin, a cruel vampire police who can warp their victims' minds. And apparently Anita and her string of adoring lovers (plus the still-upset Richard) have upset them.

And the politics of the situation are getting quite nasty, with alliances between weres and vamps getting nasty as they try to all have sex with Anita for power and influence, and Anita repeatedly getting hit by her various "beasts." And if they don't manage to kill the Harlequin soon, then Marmee Noir will reawaken -- and the Harlequin will be working for her.

"The Harlequin" sounds promising at first -- it's almost a hundred and fifty pages before Anita has sex with anyone. It's been several books since Hamilton could boast a length like that, and at first glance it seems to be promising a return to prior form.

Unfortunately, the sexless parts are duller than actual sex: talking/remembering/agonizing about sex. There's two long chapters devoted to Nathaniel wanting Anita to tie him up and hurt him during sex, and Anita getting squeamish about it.
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Format: Hardcover
The Harlequin relies very heavily on dialogue between the characters, which is typical of Hamilton's work but in this case it comes off as clunky and tiresome. Harlequin is riddled with pages of conversation between Anita and a minor character that not only does nothing to advance the plot but does not advance the character development.

Speaking of characters, Harlequin has too many of them. The core cast of characters, long thought by myself and others to be one of the strengths of the series, is bogged down with a ridiculous amount of minor characters who are given way too much stage time. There are several characters whose appearance does absolutely nothing to advance any plot or subplot(s). It almost seems like they were thrown in so you wouldn't forget that they existed within the world (and sometimes they are minor enough where you really have forgotten who they are), but with all of them making an appearance it is difficult to follow the storyline. Subsequently the characters of Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Edward, Nathaniel, and even the long obsessed about Micah suffer from neglect. There needs to be a very large battle or war or something to trim the character list (and Anita's six or seven long-list of lovers) back down again.

The one who suffers the most is Anita, who has lost whatever sense of realism that she once had. Yes, she lived in a world of vampires and zombies and had a quirky day job, but she was still realistic. You could relate to her and feel like if you lived in a world of vampires and zombies you could kick butt too. What happened to her zombie job? Not a mention of it, even though the opening scene takes place at work. I think that was the only time she went to work. What about her hobbies?
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