So in Christopher Paolini style, it opens with Anita asleep. And since this is, well, Anita Blake, she's having a sex dream.
I was dreaming of cool flesh and sheets the color of fresh blood.
... because God forbid I have a dream about dancing bananas and the Hindenburg being made of chocolate.
The phone shattered the dream, leaving only fragments, a glimpse of midnight blue eyes, hands gliding down my body, his hair flung across my face in a sweet, scented cloud.
... HIS hair? Because it sounds more like what someone would say about a dream about a WOMAN. Also, that hair thing sounds a lot less sexy when you realize that it sounds like she's being suffocated under his perfumed hair.
So Anita picks up the receiver, and it's Richard's younger brother Daniel Zeeman. Yeah, I don't know why he's calling the woman who cheated on his brother and broke his heart. In his place, I would be outside keying her car.
Daniel was twenty-four and cute as a bug's ear. Baby didn't really cover it.
- ... uh, does this guy have some kind of disease that keeps him from aging? Because usually by twenty-four, guys aren't "cute as a bug's ear" anymore. Now at four, they are. Twenty-four, not so much.
- Anita is allegedly the size of an American Girl Doll, but less imposing. And she's calling a grown man CUTE?
- Also, Anita is supposed to be only 25 at this point, but for some reason she thinks he's "cute"? They're almost the same age!
- This comment sounds like something a middle-aged woman would say about a guy fifteen years younger than herself, not what a young woman would say about a guy only slightly younger than herself. Why? Because LKH is a horrible writer.
Richard had been my fiancé once upon a time—until I chose Jean-Claude over him.
...and if I recall correctly, neglected to actually break up with him first. And yet, we're supposed to side with HER.
Sleeping with the other man put a real crimp in our social plans.
It just got SO awkward when all three of us had tea together. Quelle horreur!
Not that I blamed Richard. No, I blamed myself. It was one of the few things Richard and I still shared.
... and by "blamed myself," she means she's sulky and pissy with Richard while paying lip service to her own "guilt", especially when she discovers that he's had the NERVE to date other women since she cheated on him. And no, that "self-blaming" doesn't in any way impede her constant sexual frolicking with JC.
Anita asks what's wrong, since nobody calls at 3:10 unless somebody is dead, in jail, or has been abducted by aliens. Fortunately, Richard is only in jail for attempted rape. And no, not anal probing of random abductees.
"Richard is like the ultimate Boy Scout," I said. "I'd believe murder before I'd believe rape."
Yeah, until LKH realized that "he doesn't like gay sex!"and "he got a haircut!" weren't going to make Richard seem like the spawn of Satan, and she tried to have him metaphysically rape Anita. It still didn't work, because all the readers remembered that she had done the same thing SEVERAL TIMES.
So in a rambling bout of dialogue, we find out Richard is earning his master's degree in Tennessee, and nobody from his family is being allowed to see him.
"Has he got a lawyer?" I asked.
"He says he doesn't need one. He says he didn't do it."
... okay, when did Richard go from "a little naive" to "really fucking stupid"?
"Prison is full of people who didn't do it, Daniel."
"I'm fortunate to be a Sue. I could set fire to a bunch of blind orphans on national TV, and nobody would dare to even investigate me!"
"He needs a lawyer. It's his word against the woman's."
... uh, no it's not. Ever heard of a rape kit? That's what those are for, dumbass.
See, this is what you use so it WON'T be just HE SAID, SHE SAID.
"If she's local and he isn't, he's in trouble."
"He's in trouble," Daniel said.
"Shit," I said.
Yep, this woman actually rates herself above Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and JRR Tolkien. And she writes like THIS.
But wait! There's even worse news: There's going to be a BLUE MOON!
Ladies and gentlemen, we HAVE A TITLE!
Seriously, this sounds a LOT more dramatic than it is. Basically a blue moon is the lunar equivalent of a leap year - extra time accumulates over a few years, and so there are two full moons in a calendar month - one at the very end, and one at the very beginning. Most people don't even notice it.
Richard was an alpha werewolf. He was head of the local pack. It was his only serious flaw.
Of course, I don't hold it against any of the OTHER weres like Jason or Nathaniel. Just him. And it totally doesn't make me a bigot or anything! Some of my best friends are werewolves!
We'd broken up after I'd seen him eat somebody.
... and of course, all the OTHERS did as well. But Richard is the only icky one!
What I'd seen had sent me running to Jean-Claude's arms. I'd run from the werewolf to the vampire. Jean-Claude was Master of the City of Saint Louis. He was definitely not the more human of the two.
- I'm sorry, but was this novel written by William Shatner? LKH's writing is just this string of choppy sentences which barely connect.
- Well, at least it's better than when she tries to write poetic stuff.
- Just wait, her prose will get MUCH MUCH worse in this book.
- And of course, Anita neglects to mention that she kept pushing, pushing, PUSHING Richard to challenge Marcus and seize power for himself... then she runs off and blames him for everything.
- And in case you're wondering, SHE is supposed to have a degree on preternatural creatures AND be an expert in their cultures and behaviors. But apparently it's SHOCKING when they do typical werewolf shit!
- In short, Anita wanted a way out of her engagement, so she made one.
- And you know, seeing my fiancee killing and eating his sadistic leader while werewolf goo everywhere probably WOULD upset me a lot. And hey, I might be upset enough to go see my other love interest. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO FUCK HIM. It IS possible to break up with someone BEFORE you hop into bed (or bathtub) with someone else for really gross unsanitary sex. Why couldn't you just TALK to JC?
- ... okay, sorry, that should really have been in the previous book's floggings.
I know there isn't a lot to choose from between a bloodsucker and a flesh-eater, but at least after Jean-Claude finished feeding, there weren't chunks between his fangs. A small distinction but a real one.
... so let me get this straight: the only reason Anita broke up with Richard's ass is because he needs to FLOSS?!
"Don't let your relationship be destroyed by poor dental hygiene! Floss those chunks of rotting flesh from your teeth daily!"
A blue moon meant a second full moon this month. The moon doesn't actually turn blue most of the time, but it is where the old saying comes from—once in a blue moon. It happens about every three years or so. It was August, and the second full moon was only five days away.
... what the hell?! Uh, I hate to break it to you, but a blue moon isn't just randomly inserted between two OTHER full moons. The aren't any more days between the full moons, so it's not really shocking or unexpected.
In other words, in a NON-blue-moon month, it would ALSO be five days away. The full moons are still about 29 days apart, but those 29 days happen to fall inside a calendar month. So, yeah, it doesn't matter if it's a blue moon!
Richard's control was very good, but I'd never heard of any werewolf, even an Ulfric, a pack leader, who could fight the change on the night of the full moon.
... except possibly the hot Indian boys in the Twilight series. But since Smeyer can't keep track of days of the week, I doubt she can keep track of the lunar calendar.
No matter what flavor of animal you changed into, a lycanthrope was a lycanthrope. The full moon ruled them.
You know, I don't think that this series has ever explained WHY a full moon affects a blood-borne DISEASE. I mean, maybe it's the magnetic changes... but then you'd expect it to be on a curve instead of all or nothing.
Richard was hiding what he was.
He was secretly a fan of Justin Bieber!
He taught junior high science. If they found out he was a werewolf, he'd lose his job. It was illegal to discriminate on the basis of a disease, especially one as difficult to catch as lycanthropy, but they'd do it. No one wanted a monster teaching their kiddies.
Please beat me over the head with the metaphorical parallels a little harder. I don't think they fractured my fucking skull enough.
Honestly, I'm sick to death of people using vampires and werewolves as metaphors for other things, like AIDS. It was at least unique when Anne Rice did it in her early books, and now it's just worn out and boring. And the more obvious it is, the more annoying it is. Just write them as monsters - that's unique enough!
Not to mention that the only person in Richard's family who knew his secret was Daniel. Mom and Pop Zeeman didn't know.
And if Anita knew that he was sleeping with women who aren't her, she would have sent an anonymous letter to his parents.
So for some reason, Daniel is desperate for Anita's help. Yes, apparently the ONLY person the Zeeman family knows who knows ANYTHING about the legal system is the cold-hearted bitch who broke the accused man's heart by cheating on him with a mob boss. Maybe she'll break his knees for an encore.
But what's that? What? Oh right, the Anita Blake series takes place in a strange parallel world that only vaguely resembles ours. Cheating ex-girlfriends are the first ones you call, teenage sons are there to be pimped out, and any man who doesn't snog and cuddle naked with other men is an evil bigot who hates gay people.
"Thanks. Mom is raising hell, but it's not helping. We need someone here who understands the legal system."
"Understands the legal system"? My ass!
Anita isn't a lawyer, a cop, or anything else that requires even a vague idea of how criminal justice works. All she knows is that the judge has to give her an order of execution, and she gets to murder anyone who gets in her way. UNLIKE trying a human being for rape, which requires a court, a jury, a judge, evidence, etc.
You could get better legal knowledge by just watching TV, people. Just switch on a friggin' courtroom show and watch THAT. The only person less equipped to give sound legal advice is Judge Dredd!
"I'll have a friend call you with the name of a good local lawyer before I get there. You may be able to arrange bail by the time I arrive."
She doesn't even fucking know the town's NAME. The town's name isn't even mentioned until Chapter 4, and Daniel hasn't told her yet. Yet she already knows that her "friend" knows the quality of the town's lawyers?! What, does Anita's imaginary friend know lawyers in EVERY town in every state in the fucking US?
But it turns out that Richard has never seen a legal drama, because he thinks that because he didn't do it, they can't possibly put him in prison. Yeah, I don't think there is ANYONE over the age of four who actually believes this shit, and certainly not a guy who turns into a GIANT FLESH-EATING WOLF every month.
There was more than one reason why we'd broken up.
One of those reasons was me being a huge bitch.
He clung to ideals that hadn't even worked when they were in vogue. Truth, justice, and the American way certainly didn't work within the legal system. Money, power, and luck were what worked. Or having someone on your side that was part of the system.
Sniff sniff, what a stupid idiot Richard is! Doesn't he know that the justice system is 200% corrupt, and the only people who know how it works are completely cynical "practical" people like Anita who see everything as a bastion of sexism, racism and power abuse? Truth NEVER triumphs in court! Only power! Things like evidence and truthful testimony? Bah, these things matter not! That's why guilty people NEVER go to jail and innocent people ALWAYS do!
... as if this weren't a gross oversimplification of the justice system, it's made even sillier because I doubt LKH has even gotten a speeding ticket. Yet she's sneering about the whole "truth, justice and the American way" thing, and about how they're not "in vogue." So what, it's only okay to support such things if they're fashionable?
OUR HEROINE: upholding lies, vigilantism and the vampire empire, all purely out of self-interest!
I was a vampire executioner. I was licensed to hunt and kill vampires once a court order of execution had been issued. I was licensed in three states.
... so in other words she thinks the justice system is wholly corrupt, and she's upholding that corruption by having a SECOND JOB devoted to killing people who may not even be guilty. She doesn't even have a motivation for this job, like if vampires had killed her family or something. She just does it because... she can kill people and not be arrested.
Tennessee was not one of them.
Hooray for Tennessee. They're safe for at least a few more books.
But cops, as a general rule, would treat an executioner better than a civilian.
Possibly because they all seem to be completely batshit and violent. Who knows what they might do?
We risked our lives and usually had a higher kill count than they did. Of course, the kills being vamps, some people didn't count them as real kills. Had to be human for it to count.
- Yes, because cops' respect for each other is entirely dependent on how many civvies they gun down. If you have a desk job, you're worthy only of scorn and loathing!
- Arrests are for wusses! Your status in this cold hard world is ENTIRELY dependent on how many people you've blasted in half with a machine gun!
- And by that logic, cops adore bounty hunters. Oh wait, they don't. CAUSE THAT'S NOT HOW THE WORLD WORKS.
- Yes, all cops are bigots who don't think that vampires are "people." I mean, it's only a LAW. And we all know cops don't give a shit about LAWS.
- I somehow doubt that vampire executioners have a higher kill count. Cops are... COPS. Vampire executioners are random untrained schmoes meander in every now and then to behead someone. They don't stop crimes, solve cases, or do any of that shit.
- Also, the part that Anita is conveniently leaving out is the fact that the vampire hunters - including her Sue - don't actually do anything dangerous. They let the cops do the dangerous stuff, prance in and behead the guy. Anita's first-ever chronological story ended with "Somebody might have to hold the body down, but I'd handle the rest", as if that were the hard part.
- So tell me, do you actually think that the cops would have respect for her just because she occasionally wandered into the police station and killed someone after THEY had risked their lives to catch the person? Of course not. You might as well say that they respect the guy who flips the switch whenever the state executes someone, because HE has a higher kill count than they do!
- You wanna know the most eye-rolling part of this statement? LKH actually claims that cops praise how realistic her books are! Yeah, maybe the fucking Keystone Kops!
"I hope you can talk some sense into Richard."
HELLO. Does anyone remember the part where SHE CHEATED ON RICHARD by fucking his rival? While she was ENGAGED to him? Why is his family even still speaking to her?! I mean, if you had a brother, and his fiancee screwed some other guy and got dumped by said brother, I don't think you would be rushing for her assistance.
Daniel must really despise his brother, or he wouldn't be treating Anita like she and Richard just took some time out of their relationship and are totally going to get back together! Not only did she have sex with JC, but Richard STOPPED SPEAKING TO HER. Completely. And honestly, who could blame him?
I'd met their mother—more than once—so I said, "I'm surprised that Charlotte can't talk sense to him."
"Where do you think he gets this 'truth will set you free' bit?" Daniel asked.
BOO HISS! It's a strong-willed woman, so obviously SHE is to blame for her twentysomething son acting like an idiot! HISS HISS BOO HISS!
"Great," I said. "I'll be there, Daniel."
"I expect a dressing room with rose petals strewn on the floor, a case of fine wine, six nubile teen boys, and an orgy-sized bed."
His mom had probably come into the room. The Zeemans had four sons and a daughter. The sons were all six feet or above. The daughter was five nine.
... which means they were all freakishly huge compared to my teeny tiny self. After all, there's no one in the world shorter than FIVE THREE!
How LKH sees Anita, right down to the outfit.
They were all over twenty-one. And they were all scared of their mother. Not literally scared, but Charlotte Zeeman wore the pants in the family. One family dinner and I knew that.
"That was when I decided to dump Richard's ass, since there can only be one bossy domineering bitch in the life of MY men."
It occurred to me while I was throwing things into a suitcase to wonder why the hell I was doing this.
... yes, the biggest question is why ANITA is rushing to help, rather than why Richard's family even told her.
And I suspect the reason she's going there is... because Richard dumped HER ass. Nobody gets to dump Anita! She can only cut ties with someone if SHE dumps THEM.
I could say that it was because Richard was the other third of a triumvirate of power that Jean-Claude had forged between the three of us. Master vampire, Ulfric, or wolf king, and necromancer.
Don't worry, it's nowhere NEAR as cool as it sounds. Basically it means they all get linked together, but this doesn't make them much more powerful since people are always metaphysically threatening them, even more than before. And of course, if a piano falls off a building and kills ONE of them, the other two croak too.
It's just a means for mysterious mystical vampire-fu stuff to happen at random, and for Anita to acquire her sex powers.
But I wasn't riding to the rescue because Richard was our third. I could admit to myself, if to no one else, that I still loved Richard. Not the same way I loved Jean-Claude, but it was just as real.
Yes, she loves him in such a real strong way that she dumped him the first opportunity she had, and used it as a lame excuse to screw his love rival.
He was in trouble, and I would help him if I could. Simple. Complicated. Hurtful.
Ah yes, it's hurtful for the person who chose to wreck the relationship to be around the victim.
I wondered what Jean-Claude would think of me dropping everything to go rescue Richard. It didn't really matter. I was going, and that was that.
Then again, I guess she DOES love Richard just as much as JC: not one bit. She openly admits that her boyfriend's feelings don't matter. She doesn't even care enough to pick up the phone and tell him.
"JC, I'm going to Tennessee and rescue Richard. Don't try to stop me, since I know it would break your heart to even have me sorta kinda maybe like someone else!"
"You go right ahead, ma petite."
"I knew you would be devastated and insecure... what?"
"You go to Tennessee and smolder with barely-restrained sexual tension for a hundred fifty pages with Richard, ma petite!"
"WHY AREN'T YOU UPSET?"
"When you shag him, ma petite, it will be one step closer to acquiring the harem the author wants, ma petite."
But I did spare a thought for how that might make my vampire lover feel. His heart didn't always beat, but it could still break.
Yeah, she spared a thought for his feelings while also stating that it wouldn't make a fucking lick of difference. Why bother sparing a thought for his feelings if they don't matter?!
And you know, it would probably make him feel better if you PICKED UP THE DAMN PHONE and called him to tell him about the situation, rather than trying to sneak away. Or even tell him over that convenient telepathic link you supposedly have. That would at least show SOME consideration for his feelings, you coldhearted bitch.
Love sucks. Sometimes it feels good. Sometimes it's just another way to bleed.
This is another one of those things that LKH thinks is "deep" and profound. They usually aren't.
One chapter into this book, and already the entire plot has been rendered totally pointless. The heroine has no reason to be involved, she can't possibly help, and she's reminding us why nobody would realistically want her there.