Blood Noir

Blue Moon

Burnt Offerings

Divine Misdemeanors


by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Berkley, $26.95, NC-17)  ISBN  978-0-42523-433-4
Bullet is an apt title for the nineteenth Anita Blake novel, as the action, suspense, and emotional distress are rapid-fire.

As usual, Hamilton leaps right into the action (and I do mean "the action") when one of her several vampire lovers, Asher, pouts his way into sleeping with one of the other men – one of the main ones, Jean-Claude.  This turns into a threesome which then becomes a foursome when Richard, the local Ulfric and once-upon-a-time love of Anita's life (also a big pouter), shows up all of a sudden wanting to throw his weight in.  Actually, after book upon book of Richard being non-committal, moody, and sometimes just outright immature, he's at the point where it's more like pulling his own weight physically, metaphysically, and emotionally.  As it turns out, the emotional part will take some time, but he does stick around.  This time, at least.

One thing leads to another and another and another.  When the ardeur rises during the mass orgasm, it allows another power to sneak in: that of the Lover of the Dead.  It takes some hashing out, but Anita and Jean-Claude figure out that Marmee Noir, the biggest bad of vampire lore, has regained the ability to shift her essence from one vampire to another.  Since her main goal is to destroy the world, Anita, Jean-Claude, and Richard, as one of the strongest metaphysical powers in the United States, decide it's time to protect their own – even if all of the members who fall under that category are opposed to the idea.

In the meantime, however, Anita's pulling around another problem that's been hounding her for a few books: the weretigers, most specifically the golden ones.  Don't ask me why the tigers have a rainbow of species, but Anita's ability to absorb vampire powers when attacked has made her able to make almost any wereanimal hers to call as long as she has some contact with a member of the species.  That said, there is a bunch of weretigers already waiting for her when the first sex scene starts; they're hanging out in the hopes of hopping into her bed and helping her to become the mistress of all of the tigers.  Naturally, we're sidetracked by another sex scene, this one involving most of the people staying at The Circus of the Damned, one of Jean-Claude's various paranormal-entertainment businesses.

Shortly thereafter, Anita receives a call from the Harlequin (see the book of the same title) that she, Jean-Claude, and Richard all have hits out on them.  This leads to Richard getting shot on his way to a date.  Anita and Jean-Claude manage to heal him without sex but by sucking the lifeforce from two of Richard's wolves.

Anyway, the book continues on at this breathless pace until, of course, the last chapter; which is, in typical Hamilton style, designed to wrap up all the loose ends in two pages.

Throughout Bullet, Anita and her band of not-so-merry men, vampires, werewolves, and what have you make a great deal of progress in their relationship such as it is.  That is what earns the novel its fourth star; Hamilton's writing style is improving, but the uber-fast speed of the storyline makes it too jammed to appreciate any one crisis (or sex scene).

Speaking of sex scenes – I don't dole out NC-17's lightly. While the sex scenes themselves may not be treated in a vulgar fashion, the use of expletives in the novel border on vulgarity.  A bigger factor is Hamilton's open-mindedness about various sexual preferences and techniques. Oral sex, guy-on-guy, girl-on-girl, voyeurism, orgies, bloodletting, and BDSM are common factors in many of her novels, and especially this one.  (Rule of thumb:  if you don't know what BDSM is, don't bother with Bullet.) Though fast on the heels of Flirt, which I thought was a drastic improvement upon the past few Anita Blake novels, Bullet does pale by comparison.  However, it's nice—especially after such a long series—to finally have some (a lot!) of action taking place instead of so much inter-relationship-related melodrama.  Anita and the boys are finally growing up. Considering that some of them are several hundred years old, I think it's about time.

--Sarrah Knight

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