Monday, July 12, 2010

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

Bullet (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter)
I think that Laurell K. Hamilton has discovered a huge cash generating machine in her Anita Blake series, and recent novels in that series deliver a lot of bucks to her, but not much bang to the readers. If there's a play on words in there somewhere, given the amount of sexual content in her books recently, rest assured that it was entirely inadvertent on my part.

Spoilers and VERY ADULT concepts below.

In Bullet, the opening scene takes place at an elementary school talent show, where Anita and her stable of men are attending to be supportive of Monica, the wife of one of Jean-Claude's vampires who died recently. Monica's son, Matthew, delivers a line that may be prophetic, saying "all the boys kiss 'Nita." Almost immediately upon exiting the school building and returning to Jean-Claude's night club, we get the first of the obligatory multi-partner sex scenes. The only new developments here are that Richard finally comes to realize that his behavior in the past has endangered the triumvarate's power, and he vows to do better in the future, and that Anita finally relents and allows Asher and Jean-Claude to be together in that special way after centuries of pining for one another.

In the resulting rush of power, the gang (bang?) is put into a metaphysical conference call with some of the European Council members who aren't too kindly disposed to them. During the ensuing power struggle we discover that a big bad evil we thought was destroyed, The Mother of All Darkness, has lived on in spirit to possess the bodies of some of the Council, and she will use them to destroy the threat that Anita and her "boys" represent to her return. When one of the Council vampires, Morte d'Amour, tries to use his power to cause our heroes to self-destruct, Jean-Claude turns the attack into a massive wave of the ardeur, triggering a night-club wide orgy.

When Anita recovers the next morning, she can't recall the details, and we're not subjected to them, thankfully. We can only wish Hamilton were always this discrete. Anita's ardeur has gone from being a necessary plot device to being a distraction to the most interesting part of the story line of this series, in my opinion. I'm not opposed to a little gratuitous sex to liven things up once in a while (in a novel, you filthy minded perverts!), but when it gets to the level of Hamilton's recent works, you're catering to a different trade than your usual urban fantasy fan.

So, it goes without saying that that's not the last sex scene in the book. I won't spoil any more of them for you. Anita and friends challenges in this book include figuring out a way to neutralize or kill Marmee Noir, avoid the assassins someone has sent after them, stop the power struggle in the werelion pride, take control of the weretigers and their powers, and put together an American Council to fight off the European one corrupted by Marmee's evil. Oh, and try to set aside some quality family down-time.

If you absolutely have to follow Anita's journey of self discovery, and you're hoping that someday, somehow, when you least expect it, Hamilton will go back to the original plot elements that made her such a big hit, you're going to be gravely disappointed by this one. Pick it up at the library; borrow it from a rich friend, but don't spend cold hard cash on this slug.

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