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ANITA BLAKE – VAMPIRE HUNTER – The Work of Laurell K. Hamilton.

 

            Your first thought on seeing a book about a ‘Vampire Hunter’ is ‘Buffy Rip off’. or ‘not another Anne Rice’.  Such an assumption may be off-putting to all but the Goth who eagerly digests all things Nosferatu. But bi-passing Hamilton’s work would be a mistake. Her vampire world is very different to most.  Anita Blake lives in a world where everyone knows that vampires, werewolves and demons exist. It isn’t a fantasy world, but an alternative reality modern day America. Here, vampires have rights as well as rites. A vampire can only be legally killed if it has committed murder against living humans. Anita Blake, known to vampires,  as ‘The Executioner’ is one of a small band of people legally authorized to hunt down and kill vampires who have broken the law. What we have here is not Buffy, but a private detective story in the Philip Marlowe tradition in which the suspects are often very powerful supernatural beings. Anita Blake, the heroine of Hamilton’s dozen or so novels, is mainly employed as a resurrectionist. She brings murder victims back to life temporarily as zombies so that they can give information on their own cause of death. Blake then assists the police, or more often than not conducts her own investigation, into tracking down and executing the monsters responsible. There are strong elements of Agatha Christie whodunit, and how did they do it, as well as an increasingly high body count. Anita Blake is a very credible heroine. The author gives her a snappy, often cynical first person narration point of view. The best aspect is the author’s fascination for what clothes a woman should wear that can look attractive and still conceal a variety of high velocity firearms. Anita Blake starts off the first book in total loathing of vampires, due to having lost loved ones to them, but she ends up in a complicated love-hate relationship with the Jean-Claude, Master Vampire in charge of her home city. As the novels progress, Blake also falls for a Werewolf, Richard Zeeman, which creates some extremely tense jealousy between her respective suitors. And rather complicates her investigations.  There are elements of silliness, in that as well as werewolves there are also were-panthers, were-rats and even were-sharks.

Laura’s fellow employees also complicate matters. There is Edward, who assassinates vampires for fun, as often as from duty, and may well also be killing people if the fee is right. There is also Bert, the Boss who lands Anita with duties outside of her job description on a regular basis, and hires his staff out to the highest bidder. He is a man devoid of any sense of ethics. The series begins with Guilty Pleasures, with a title that describes a vampire nightclub that invites people to watch creatures of the night weight lift with cars, and use their hypnotic a powers to seduce their audiences. Guilty Pleasures is Jean Claude’s headquarters. He comes across as a vampire Godfather figure of extraordinary charm, but never ceases to seem extremely dangerous. Many of the characters introduced here will recur in the ongoing series. The books are usually named after bars, and clubs. And other venues. The Lunatic Café is the Werewolf venue and the title of the 4th book in the series. . While Anne Rice went decidedly off the boil after her second vampire novel, The Vampire Lestat, Hamilton gets better with each volume. There is some continuity and development to the characters, so it is essential to read the books in their correct order.

 

© Copyright. Arthur Chappell

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