Monday, July 28, 2008

Blood Noir – review

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

First Published: 2008

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: “Jason is a werewolf. He’s also one of Anita Blake’s best friends and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her – not to be a vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer, but because his father is dying. Anita can make him look like a regular guy, helping him say goodbye to the abusive father he never loved.

“The fact that Jason is not ‘everyday’ and Anita is far from being just a pretty woman is something they figure they can keep under wraps for a couple of days in a small town. How hard can that be? Really, by now, Anita Blake should know better.

“And this is the weekend that Marmee Noir, ancient mother of all vampires, picks to make a move. Somehow she has cut the connection that binds Anita and vampire Master of the City Jean-Claude, leaving them vulnerable. Dangerous even as she sleeps, buried in darkness for a thousand years beneath the old country of Europe, Marmee Noir reaches out towards power – she has attacked Anita before, but never like this.

“Anita has what she wants – and now she’s going to take it.”

The Review: Blurbs sometimes distort, if not down right lie about, a book’s plot. This is book 15 of the Anita Blake series (though for some reason it isn’t numbered as such on the spine) and those who know the characters might be forgiven for wondering “What the Hell?” Let me confirm then, Jason doesn’t want to pass off for ‘regular’ – his estranged father believes him gay and he wants to pass Anita off as his girlfriend to prove his heterosexuality – at the request of his mother.

Sound a little soap opera? Well you’d be forgiven for thinking so as, quite frankly, that aspect is. What the blurb doesn’t mention is a senator’s son and a case of mistaken identity – that adds some peril but is soap opera in its own way.

Before I get onto the potentially interesting aspect of the novel, let me talk sex. Those who have read my reviews of other Anita Blake books will know that I was getting a little fed up with the endless sex scenes – not for prudish reasons but if I wanted an erotica novel I’d buy one, I buy these for supernatural adventure.

You’ll know that my worries were waylaid to a degree with the last volume, The Harlequin, but at the head of this novel I began to be worried. The first four chapters are essentially one sex scene. However, having got that out of the way the rest of the book actually glosses over sex – including a complete gloss over of a two day 4-way orgy – perhaps Hamilton really has got it out of her system.

What she hasn’t got into her system, necessarily, is solid storylines. The interesting storyline with Marmee Noir, promised within the blurb (although reading said blurb, one wonders at the poor English that is meant to be advertising a novel) is a bit of a damp squib. We again get some power tussles and some regrouping/revising of main character powers and that’s about it. The mistaken identity story has more teeth but is concluded almost as an afterthought.

The Harlequin promised that Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels were back on track. This fell short of that track and one can’t help but wonder (after at least three of the last four novels not really going anywhere) if Hamilton has just run out of steam and doesn’t know where to take her characters – the posturing is soap opera and, no matter how strong the technical side of the writing is (and it is), it is a poor excuse for novel writing and betrays a lack of heart. 4.5 out of 10.

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