Anita Blake – 01 – Guilty Pleasures – Guest!

LeedsBookClub is delighted to welcome back our guest reviewer @FaithGentleman who has agreed to review the (massive) Anita Blake Series by Laurell K Hamilton.


Okay first of all let me give you a brief introduction as to why I chose to buy the Anita Blake books in the first place.

I brought the first three as a 3 in 1 collection and I had been toying with the idea of buying them for a while. But I’d recently brought several new books by authors I had never read before and had been very disappointed with them so I was very reluctant to try another new author only for the book to wind up in the charity bag. 
I kept going into Waterstones and picking up the first book in the Merry Gentry series but every time I put it down as I just
couldn’t decide whether to buy it or not. £7.99 for a book isn’t cheap especially if you end up not liking it. (Am I the only one who still wishes books were the same price as when I was a kid? £2.99 for a point horror… good times). 
But I was seriously umming and ahhing about these books. But then I saw the three in 1 for the Anita Blake series and it was only £10.99 (bargain). So I read the first few pages in the shop and it sounded good so I took the risk.
And now I am addicted.
So now back on track.

Ever since the Supreme Court granted the undead equal rights, most people think Vampires are just ordinary folks with fangs. 

I know better. 

But now a serial killer is murdering vampires – and the most powerful blood sucker in town wants me to find the killer…’

Anita Blake comes across as a very surly, opinionated person, very stuck in her ways. You get the impression in the first few books that if you knew her there’s a big chance that you wouldn’t like her. She sounds like a Marmite person you either like her or you don’t.
The Anita Blake universe is very similar to our own except that Vampires, Werewolves etc. are real. It’s set in St. Louis in America. 
The series starts off quite crime orientated and gory. So if you don’t like blood and guts being described these books aren’t for you as Laurell doesn’t scrimp on the detail.
Later on in the series she puts as much description into the sex scenes, so people easily offended find another series to read (LBC – though it is worth noting that the first 6 books or so are surprisingly chaiste).
Now if any of you are about to read this and are expecting some sort of deep and meaningful insight into the Anita Blake books, you’re reading the wrong review. 

This will be a general overview of the book with my opinions thrown in for good measure, as if I were describing it to a friend who was interested in reading the books. (Possibly with a few spoilers). I am going to try really hard not to spoil the books for people who haven’t read the books.
* * * * *
* * * * * MINOR SPOILERS * * * * *
* * * * *
Our first encounter with her is in her place of work ‘Animators Inc.’ where she is dealing with a client called Willie McCoy. She knew him when he was alive and he’s now a Vampire and has been asked to hire her to deal with the Vampire Murders. Anita doesn’t like Willie – she is frightened of him because he is a Vampire. 
Anita hates Vampires she essentially thinks they’re pretty, soulless creatures and they’re not real people because they are dead. But thanks to a court case in the Anita Blake world ‘Addison vs. Clarke’ Vampirism was now legal. 
So there were a lot of questions about what life was and what death was. Did heirs have to give their inheritance back? Were you still widowed if your partner became a Vampire? Was it murder to slay a Vampire?
And there’s even a movement being pushed forward to give Vampires the vote. The reason I mention this is because it does crop up in future books and so it won’t need explaining again and also to cover Anita’s views on Vampirism. (Of which she has a lot). 
Willie came to Anita as she’s the best, and even though Anita hates Vampires her boss (Bert) took on the client and if a client gives him a retainer Anita has to meet them.
This issue causes many arguments in future books. But Anita refuses to work on the case. (Bet this doesn’t cause her any problems later on in the book)!
Anyway back to the story now. So Anita goes to work to raise the dead and has not long gone to bed the next morning (Anita’s powers only work at night – as far as she knows). When
her phone rings; its Monica Vespucci a friend of Anita’s friend Catherine who is getting married and she wants Anita to be the designated driver for the hen party that night! (I’d be well peeved at that length notice).
The hen party (bachelorette if you’re American)is at Guilty Pleasures – a Vampire strip club. It is run by Jean Claude who Anita describes as soft curling hair, tangled with high white lace of an antique shirt, lace spilled over pale long fingered hands, and the shirt hung open giving a glimpse of lean bare chest framed by more frothy lace. 

Most men couldn’t have worn a shirt like that the Vampire made it seem utterly masculine!
People come to Guilty Pleasures for the Vampires they’re sexy and dangerous and not at all naff like the ones in Twishite!

Anita’s powers allow her a certain resistance to Vampires powers.
It’s hinted around in early books and as the books go on we learn more about what Anita can do.
So Anita’s on this hen do and really enjoying herself (NOT)! When she gets a call from the police, (well – actually it’s a page. The first book was written in 1993 so mobile phones weren’t really around that much. Hence a pager).
She has just signed on to be an adviser on all things supernatural with a new task force; referred to mainly as the spook squad! But actually called The Regional Preternatural Investigation Team R.P.I.T (for short). They deal with Vampires, Lycanthropes, not just Werewolves. 

There’s Were-Hyenas, Were- Leopards, Were-rats (gross), and others that come up in later books. She’s been assigned to this squad because she’s a necromancer and also a vampire hunter. But she refers to herself as an Animator (someone who raises Zombies). This is run by Sergeant Rudolph Storr (Dolph), and she helps them by providing them with information at crime scenes.

So she has to leave the hen do (and she’s real disappointed), and has to go visit a crime scene. Upon Anita’s return Catherine is on the stage at Guilty Pleasures and is in a deep trance, so
deep that the vampire in question can summon her whenever he wants. It is however a ploy to get Anita to work on the Vampire murders and Monica was in on it! (Bet that puts her in the bad books). Anita reluctantly agrees to work on the murders if they guarantee Catherine’s safety. Jean Claude takes Anita to meet Nikolaos.

Who locks Anita in a cellar where she is attacked by wererats, at Nikolaos’ command! (What a lovely lady, a simple please would have probably worked better). She also informs Anita that there have been more murders and introduces her to Zachary who has a witness. He is also an animator (and Anita recognises him from somewhere). The witness is a Zombie who he abuses and causes it to be a useless source of information. Nikolaos lair is beneath the Circus of the Damned and whilst leaving Anita discovers one
of her henchman is a Vampire called Valentine who she had a run in with a few years previously. She poured holy water on him and he broke her collarbone. 
Their encounter is covered in the graphic novels (of which i have only read one, because I refuse to buy any other comics/graphic novels than the Buffy related ones)(LBC – WHEDON!!!).

There is quite a lot of back-story to these books that you need to read the graphic novels to find out. When we meet Anita she has already been raising the dead professionally for 4 years, she already knows Jean Claude and she already has a LOT of scars. She is also very into weaponry and Laurell goes into a lot of detail with gun types, gun care etc. I won’t mention the weapons a great deal in the reviews as although they feature quite heavily I don’t want to go into detail with them and upset people who know about guns as I know naff all.

Anita returns home from the Circus of the Damned to discover Edward is at her apartment.

He is just referred to as Edward or Death quite a lot in the early books but he gets more character development as the books go on. Let’s just say Anita knows him and there is more to their story than is covered in the books. He wants the location of the resting place of the Master of the city (Nikolaos). But at this stage she is reluctant to reveal that she knows. He lets it lie for now but says he will be back.  

So Anita is now investigating the Vampire Murders and she enlists the help of her friend Veronica Sims, who is a private investigator to look into Vampire hate groups.

Anita investigates a freak party and feels a Zombie raising close by. She goes to be nosy and discovers Zachary attempting to raise a Zombie, but he can’t do it as he is too old. But then Anita finds out where she recognises him from… his funeral!

In this book we also come across the Church of Eternal life for the first time. It’s basically described as a church led by Vampires. Humans can join and also be turned into Vampires. We do learn more about it as the series goes on. 
Anita attended the freak party with a stripper from Guilty Pleasures called Philip and Nikolaos feels Anita has turned him against her and so captures him, she has also discovered that Jean Claude in his attempt to heal Anita the first time she visited Nikolaos he gave her the first two marks towards making her him human servant. (We don’t really discover a lot about this in the early books hence the reason I have skimmed over it here). But Anita is helping Jean Claude to sustain himself without realising it. So Nikolaos is very angry. She has Philip killed and Anita in return kills one of the Vamps who murdered making Nikolaos even more angry.

Not very good at motivating people is she?! No wonder Anita’s not on Team Vampire!

Anita’s angry so she recruits Edward to help in destroying Nikolaos and also tells him about Valentine the vampire they thought was dead still being alive. Before Anita and Edward can go hunting Anita has to lay a Zombie to rest. So her and Edward wind up in a cemetery, but uh-oh they are attacked by the Vampire murderer.

Luckily they are able to get away (good job or this would be the only Anita Blake book). Anita recruits the Wererats help in getting into the Circus of the Damned through some tunnels. They are able to kill Aubrey and Valentine but unluckily for them Nikolaos isn’t confined to her coffin by daylight!

* * * * *
* * * * * MAJOR SPOILERS * * * * *
* * * * *
A lot of fighting takes place and Anita kills Nikolaos, but not before first revealing that she knows who the Vampire Murderer is. She then kills Zachary and frees Jean Claude, who reveals that he knew Anita could solve the murders and destroy Nikolaos. Jean Claude is now the new Master of the City.

The book concludes with Anita going back to her normal(ish) life and Jean Claude chasing after her for a date.

On the whole this is a good book. It’s sets up the whole Anita Blake world nicely. Revealing enough to whet your appetite and leave you wanting more. It is essentially a murder, mystery style book with supernatural beings thrown in. 

Laurell is a good writer who has done her plenty of research on the subject matter that she has been able to. She also has a degree in Animal Biology so she actually knows her animal stuff and isn’t just guessing. I urge all those who have read Twishite to give this a try and then burn Twishite! 
And all those who are fans of Buffy give it a go.

If you have never read Vampire fiction this is a good place to start.
Anita Blake Series
Book 10 – Narcissus in Chains
Book 09 – Obsidian Butterfly
Book 08 – Blue Moon
Book 07 – Burnt Offerings
Book 06 – The Killing Dance
Book 05 – Bloody Bones
Book 04 – The Lunatic Cafe
Book 03 – Circus of the Damned
Book 02 – The Laughing Corpse
Book 01 – Guilty Pleasures

Chat with Marie – @FaithGentlemen

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