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Peter D. Tillman is a mining geologist with two previous fiction sales and many professional and technical publications. He's lived in Arizona for the past twenty years.


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Burnt Offerings
by Laurell K. Hamilton
1998, Ace, $7, 392 pp. ISBN 0-441-00524-1
Reviewed by Peter D. Tillman

 

Rating: "A". The strongest Anita Blake since The Laughing Corpse.

I realize I'm a ways behind here -- I've found that if I read these without a few months break between books, I get vampire-overdose. Anyway, the previous 3 or 4, while good, didn't blow me away.
So I'm pleased to report that Anita Blake is back to full voltage, with more complex plot and characters and a (somewhat) lower bodycount. The Grand Guignol's still here, as is Hamilton's ability to make a fundamentally silly premise into a great story. Bet you can't read just one ....
In this outing, the Vampire Council's come to town from Europe, on suspicion that Jean-Claude has gotten uppity after killing councilor Earthmover (aka "Mr. Oliver" in the last book) -- not realizing that J-C's human servant (and girlfriend) Anita is the one who pulled the trigger. Moving at the usual breakneck pace, Anita becomes both acting-alpha werewolf and leoparde-lionee' for the St. Louis Wereleopards. Thankfully, Rafael narrowly (by the skin...? er, no.) keeps his throne as King Wererat. For a while it looked like Anita would win the Triple Crown. I know this sounds silly -- and it is. But the mixture of silly with serious (giggles with gore) is one of Hamilton's signature -- and best -- story-devices.
Add to all this the well-researched police- (and, this time, firefighter-) procedural, and the snappy tough-girl dialog. In the following snippet, Dolph, her boss on the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, is admonishing Our Heroine:
"Try not to kill anyone this month, Anita. Even in clear self- defense ...."
"I haven't killed anyone in over six weeks -- hell, nearly seven. I'm cutting down."
I suppose by writing up Anita Blake #7 I'm preaching to the choir -- if you're new to the series, this isn't the place to start (go all the way back to #1, Guilty Pleasures; all are in print). But what the hell; I write these things mostly for my own amusement. Good thing, too -- it would be tough to make a living (or even much spare change) writing book reviews. Anyway, I'll soon be caught up to Hamilton's newest, and be reduced to impatiently waiting for the next new Anita, just like all the rest of you guys and gals ....

 

Other reviews of this book are available at http://www.epiphyte.net/SF/burnt-offerings.html and http://www.silcom.com/~manatee/utc.html