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Kiss the Dead (Anita Blake) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by Harriet Klausner
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425247549
Date: 05 June 2012 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

There is a new movement going around vampire circles that has many fledglings free from being tied to a master. The current Vampire system is critical to keep vamps in line and protect one another. However, an old world master, Benamin, breaks the cultural code by creating newbies without demanding the blood oath of allegiance from the newcomers.

U.S. Marshal Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner, questions one of the liberated vamps in an interrogation room over the case of an underage human minor. A fifteen years old girl requested to be transformed into a vampire; taking her even if she asked for this is considered kidnapping and attempted murder under the American legal code. Barney finally breaks under the intense scrutiny and gives Anita an address. Anita knows his willingness to offer information to her is a trap to execute her.

Blake leads a team to the location where the teenager is held and hears the girl screaming. When they open the door, they are taken aback with the nightmare inside; besides the rescued teen, there are recently changed children, soccer moms, and grannies. The unit prepares to transport the group to jail. Some try to escape while others are killed. Knowing there are more clusters like this out there, Anita employs psychological torture to obtain the "safe" houses so that the vamps inside are killed.

At the same time that Anita works the non-blood-oathed vamp investigation, in her personal life she has qualms about having eighteen-year-old Sin as a lover. The major bump in her relationships is Asher the old world vampire who is jealous of anyone he loves who shows interest in anyone else. Anita and her live-in lovers were-leopards Nathanial and Micah go to the Circus Nightclub to spend time with her vampire lover Jean-Claude the master of the City of St. Louis while Asher fights with his male lover. She ends up caught in the middle of the argument and Asher injures her. Jean-Claude strongly suggests he leave the city to become master elsewhere, but he knows how much he will miss his lover of hundreds of years. Meanwhile a rogue vampire plans to destroy Anita and anyone in her inner circle.

The latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter urban fantasy (see Hit List and Bullet) is one of the best books in the long running series as there is better equilibrium between her law enforcement work as a Preternatural Unit U.S. Marshal and her personal life. That balance makes for a strong storyline in which the horrid fledgling hunting contrasts with the sensual lovemaking scenes. The former showcases the toughness of the heroine who feels for the victimized changed without choice, but also knows what she must do; the latter displays a woman at peace with herself as she accepts her multiple vampire and shapeshifter lovers as part of her natural duality. Ergo she's greatly matured from the days when she believed the only good supernatural was a dead supernatural. However, even as she has matured, Asher's rage over his inability to accept her multiplicity has caused the heroine unneeded issues and severe injuries at a time she works a difficult case; making matters worse for her and Jean-Claude as they both love the angry vamp.

The investigation is top rate as Anita uses enhanced interrogation techniques that would horrify most people to obtain needed information. Diligent she also knows what she must do; but she does not like it as the victims deserve better.

Readers will appreciate Kiss The Dead as the unparalleled Laurell K. Hamilton proves she is still at the top of the urban fantasy game.

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