Title: Hit List
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter (Book 20)
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0425241130 (Penguin/Berkley)
ISBN-13: 978-0425241134 (Penguin/Berkley)
Reviewed by: Kristie
A serial killer is hunting the Pacific Northwest, murdering victims in a gruesome and spectacular way. The local police suspect “monsters” are involved, and have called in Anita Blake and Edward, U.S. Marshals who really know their monsters, to catch the killer.
But some monsters are very real. The Harlequin have been have been the bogeyman of the vampire world for more than a thousand years; they are a secret so dark that even to speak their name can earn you a death sentence. Now they are here in America, hunting weretigers . . . and human police.
The Harlequin serve the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire. She was supposed to be dead, but only her body was destroyed. Now she needs a new one, and she’s decided that Anita Blake’s is the body she wants. Edward thinks the serial killings are a trap to lure Anita closer to the most dangerous vampire they’ve ever hunted. The vampires call Edward “Death” and Anita the “Executioner,” but Mommy Darkest is coming to kill one and possess the other, and she doesn’t care how many others have to die along the way.
Quick & Dirty: Anita is back with an actual plot and less sex, in a dark horror story that may appeal to early fans of the series.
Opening Sentence: The main piece of the body lay on the ground, on its back in the middle of a smooth grassy field.
Hit List, the 20th book In the Anita Blake series is a definite improvement to the long suffering series. Hit List finds Anita in Washington State following a series of brutal murders against shape shifters without packs. Working as a U.S. Marshal, Anita has teamed up with fellow U.S. Marshals Ted Forrester (Edward), Otto Jefferies (Olaf) and Bernardo Spotted-Horse to solve the murders.
Anita is also a vampire hunter, an animator and a succubus. She has left all her men back in St. Louis, men that she may need at any time to control her hunger. On the job, Anita is facing prejudices against her love life. Anita is also dealing with several issues in her life, the main one being burn out, she is tired of all the killings, tired of tracking killers and tired of being hunted by her enemies.
Edward helps Anita to realize that the killers are The Harlequin. The Harlequin are the vampire equivalent of judge, jury and executioner and they are working for the Mother of All Darkness, a very old and powerful vampire. The Harlequin have lured her away from her men, her home and her support structure. They are hoping to catch Anita so the Mother of All Darkness can take over her body. Anita has power over the dead and she can control many types of shape shifters and that power would make the Mother of All Darkness unstoppable. The ultimate battle between Anita and the Mother of All Darkness comes to an end.
Edward is a major character in Hit List. Anita and Edwards’ relationship grows. Olaf is still a sick, sadistic bastard that for some reason I want to see more of (a showdown with Anita would be nice). Bernardo, the smart, sexy Indian is really just along for the ride, but I really enjoy his character. He is a light in the darkness of the series.
The complaint about the last nine or so books in the series is that there is little to no plot and the books should be reclassified from Urban Fantasy to Erotica. Hit List does have a plot, it is not strong but there is at least a story going on. The erotica portion has been tamed down, as Anita adds only one man to her long list of lovers.
There are a few problems with Hit List. One is repetition, people are always asking “What do you mean?” and “Why is that?” for things that really need no explanation, or have already been explained. Several characters come off as whiney, Anita included. Another problem is that subjects are not dropped; they are beaten to death so many times that it becomes absolutely annoying. Unfortunately, the main subject that is on everyone’s mind and will not go away is the subject of Anita’s sex life. She definitely has an interesting sex life, but the fact that people make a huge deal out of it seems really unrealistic and the fact that the subject comes up time after time after time. These people need to worry more about the serial killings than someone’s personal life. The last problem I have with the book is the ending. It is extremely rushed. The book was almost over when anything happened and the final battle happens in the blink of an eye in the second to last chapter.
Overall, Hit List should appeal to fans of the first ten books in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. The atmosphere is dark and the tension levels run high. There is quite a bit of action with The Harlequin so the story isn’t entirely slow. I do not recommend this book, for first time readers of the series.
Movement made me glance at Haven; he was wearing a black cloak and held a white mask in his hand. “We’re coming,” he said, “wake up.”
I woke staring at the dark ceiling, pulse thudding, throat almost closed around it, and then I heard it. The door, not the knob, but the brush of someone against it, like the first tentative touch. I drew my gun from underneath the pillow and tried to think how to warn Laila without them hearing me. They were either vampires or wereanimals; they’d hear any whisper. Then I realized they’d heard the change in my heartbeat; they knew I was awake.
I had time to say, “Laila, they’re here!” The door opened as she sat up in bed but didn’t reach for a weapon. Shit. There was no one in the doorway. It stretched pale and empty, filled with night and the artificial lights of the parking lot beyond. Then I heard it, a creak of board, and knew something was crawling on the floor, hidden from me by Laila’s bed.
I started to say, “It’s by you, on the floor,” but one minute she was on the bed with her gun and the next a black shape whirled over her and she was gone. I’d seen the speed of lycanthropes and vampires, but all I saw was the cloak like a black sheet and it dragged her over on the other side of the bed with it. It wasn’t just fast, it was as if the thing, whatever it was, was formed of the blackness of the cloth and nothing more. Fuck, that couldn’t be real. Had it mind-fucked me? If the answer was yes, I was about to lose in real life and not just in nightmare.
The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series:
5. Bloody Bones
8. Blue Moon
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir
17. Skin Trade
20. Hit List
21. Kiss the Dead
FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley provided me with a copy of Hit List. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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