I like action flicks. Gimme some sex, some violence and a few gaping plot holes and I am a happy camper. Which also explains why I like the Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton, a series which follows the adventures of an intrepid and sarcastic Vampire Executioner through the streets of St. Louis and beyond. In her world, vampires and werewolves are legally recognized as American citizens, which at times complicates AnitaÃ‚'s life in ways that only the soft porn industry can truly appreciate.
Hamilton writes pretty clunky dialogue, and likes explaining things too much, but she pens a good action scene, and Anita is exactly the kind of heroine I like to root for Ã‚– confident, dangerous and an incurable smart-ass. SheÃ‚'s not a perfect, capable action hero Ã‚– she doesnÃ‚'t like what the violence is doing to her emotionally, she wishes she could have the white picket fence and a life that doesnÃ‚'t involve constant blood and mayhem, but she goes on doing what she has to, in order to keep the people around her safe. Hamilton does a great job of making Anita human and vulnerable, even as her supernatural arsenal expands. SheÃ‚'s grown and changed as a character throughout the series, and thatÃ‚'s what keeps me coming back for more.
Well, that, and the growing stable of gorgeous men that Anita has in her bed. The earlier books focused more on AnitaÃ‚'s dayjob as an animator (someone who raises the dead) and preternatural advisor to the police but as the series progressed, things have Ã‚– well, changed. Her powers grew, her morals corroded, and Anita started boffing everything that moves. All for a good reason, of course, nicely explained through the wonders of vampire powers and AnitaÃ‚'s growing involvement with the nightlife of St. Louis. Not that I care. When an author starts using words like Ã‚"throbbingÃ‚" and Ã‚"slickÃ‚" more than once a page, we all know why weÃ‚'re reading the book, donÃ‚'t we? LetÃ‚'s be honest, romantic literature is porn for chicks, and Hamilton has built a large and loyal readership based on this knowledge.
She also still includes everything that made the earlier books good Ã‚– great characters, an interesting premise (legal vampirism) and a world that continues to evolve in ways that are both intriguing and make sense. I prefer the books where Anita works with the cops to try and solve a supernatural crime, but Hamilton has her doing less and less of that as the darker side of AnitaÃ‚'s life evolves. There is the feeling that each book travels farther into that world, shoving Anita further down the path to being a sociopath. This exploration of AnitaÃ‚'s human weakness and her growing doubt about how much humanity she has left is what is really interesting about the books. In one of the most recent, Obsidian Butterfly, Anita manages to keep her pants on for the duration, and the storyline didnÃ‚'t suffer at all.
DonÃ‚'t let that stop you from checking them out Ã‚– the latest from Hamilton is chock-full of kinky supernatural hanky panky, although I find that when she cuts loose on the sex, she tends to neglect the story. You may not notice; Anita Blake books are crafted much like action flicks, hurtling toward the final showdown with the energy and speed of a Fedex package sent Overnight Air. Um, forget that last metaphor. What I meant to say was that Cerulean Sins is a fun ride, using sheer momentum to keep you from realizing that very little actually happens. Anita learns a bit more about what a big bad nasty girl she is, we see some yet more powerful opponents pop up to test her, and she tries to sort out her love life. A simple equation, but it works.
IÃ‚'m not going to direct you to Amazon.com or anything of the sort. I think books should be bought in bookstores, so go out and get them there. ThereÃ‚'s eleven of them now; the first is Guilty Pleasures.