So where were we when we left Anita? Oh yes, someone said something mildly upsetting to her, and she started crying like a baby. Tough heroine, my ass.
Edward turns up randomly, and finds Anita sitting in an alley, crying. You would expect him to be disgusted, or amused, or maybe just walk away. You would be wrong - he just hangs around with his cowboy hat.... which he and Anita have a boring discussion about.
"I still can't get used to you doing the whole Ted cowboy thing."
"You look like Woody from Toy Story, you know."
So they natter on about Edward's alter ego, which is Anita's cue to get really nosy. She mentions that, "He's your legal identity. I think it's your birth name." For some reason, this causes Edward to go all "empty creepy eyes" on her, because obviously mentioning a person's birth name makes them come over all creepy.
"If you want to ask a question, ask it."
"I've asked before and you wouldn't answer."
"That was then, this is now."
"All right, which do you prefer: pepperoni or mushrooms?"
"Huh? That question?"
"Well, 'is that your birth name?' is in the top twenty."
So Anita asks if Edward's birth name is Theodore Forrester, and he says yes. Whee. This was such an important and interesting scene, I can hardly contain myself. My life was incomplete before.
"It was because I was crying, wasn't it?"
... yeah, LKH just successfully sucked every ounce of cool out of Edward with ONE WORD. That is a special and rare kind of character destruction. So Mr. Awesome Assassin Hunter-of-Deadly-Things With Nerves Of Steel just caved in and told Anita that BECAUSE SHE WAS GOING BOOHOO.
Then I just went back to the fact that I finally had confirmation that Edward had been born Theodore Forrester. In a way, Ted was the real person, and Edward the secret identity.
Uh, YEAH. I sort of was saying that all along, you dumb bitch. Just because YOU'VE seen him as Edward more doesn't mean that isn't the "secret" identity. If he doesn't have that on his driver's license and most people don't address him as "Edward," then THAT IS HIS SECRET IDENTITY. Why are you so STUPID?
So Anita thanks Edward for "giving a shit that I was crying." Yes, I'm sure the elite bounty hunter with no compassion or hesitation cares that one bitchy oversensitive woman burst into tears because her superior was SOOOOO MEEEEAAAAANNN to her.
"I know it was a stupid reason to cry. You'd think I'd get used to being called a monster."
HE DIDN'T SAY THAT, DUMB BITCH. He asked if you thought of yourself as human! There's a HUGE difference between asking about your self-perception of your own humanity and calling you a monster!
"It's only been a month since you had to make the hardest kill of your life, Anita. Give yourself a break."
"I mean, it hit me hard when I finally killed Sephiroth too! But don't worry, he appears in the sequels."
No, actually Edward is talking about how Anita shot one of her "sweeties" in the previous book. Yeah, for some reason he's SO sensitive to her fragile little feelings, and is cutting her huge amounts of slack instead of telling her to grow a pair (since she's so manly and crap).
And for some reason, Edward has decided that Anita is just sitting in an alley blubbing because hey, she shot Haven in the head. Who's Haven? I don't blame you if you don't remember, because he appeared briefly in a few books, pledged his undying whatever to Anita, and then vanished for a long time.
Occasionally Anita would mention that he had married some evil Other Woman or that he was a meaniepants who wouldn't "share" (since being willing to "share" sexually is the most important quality a man can have, in her mind). Then he showed up randomly at the circus, tried to kill professional doormat Nathaniel, and instead killed some werelion that nobody knew or cared about.
Why this change? Well, LKH got pissed off at the married man who she had temporarily hired as a bodyguard. She was always making flirty comments and dragging him everywhere, being resentful of his wife, and then he just vanished from her online communications. It's been speculated (NOT confirmed) that he rejected LKH sexually, and this is her revenge on him... a book where her avatar shoots his in the head, while condemning him for being "jealous" and not "sharing." Wow. Total psycho. Bet he's glad he didn't take her up on that offer.
Haven had been jealous, and wanted to hurt me as badly as possible; that he'd chosen Nathaniel's death as the most painful thing he could do to me was something I still hadn't looked at too closely.
"He had somehow known that it would be the most painful thing ever if I had to do my own laundry and buy my own toilet paper! For a manly man such as I, nothing could be worse!"
I had enough pain, because Haven had been one of my lovers. I'd never killed anyone that I'd cared about before.
Yeah, they had about three scenes together, and she shat on him for several books, but we're supposed to buy that she actually "cared" about him.
It hadn't felt very good. In fact, it had sucked.
It like, TOTALLY sucked. It was like, almost as bad as when Jean-Claude used the last of the conditioner! Like, my frizz was TOTALLY out of control.
"You're saying I'm still raw from killing Haven?" "Yes."
I would expect "raw" to be a familiar feeling for her.
"Have you ever had to kill a lover?"
"She was this psycho author who wanted me to dump Donna and become her personal slave along with her houseboy hubby. It was weird."
However, it turns out that Edward's lover wasn't somebody he cared about. Charming. Why use the word "lover" if you actually mean "convenient orifice in which to get your rocks off"? Or in other words, "sweetie."
"Okay, did you care about her?"
"And I cared about Haven, so it hurts more."
BULLSHIT. Right after he pledged allegiance to her cooch, he basically vanished from the stage and only made a couple of cameos in the following books. If Anita even bothered to mention him, it was with obvious loathing. Just because he porked her OFF-SCREEN (yeah, we're just TOLD that they had sex, out of the blue) doesn't mean she cared about him. Which she obviously didn't, because her hatred of him popped up just because he didn't instantly fall in line with her other subservient boytoys.
LKH can tell us that Anita cared about Haven until she's blue in the face. But the books themselves don't support that, since Anita didn't decide she "cared" about Haven until after he was safely dead and she needed to wangst. And guess what: stuff that ONLY happens in the author's head and never makes it to the page DOES NOT COUNT as part of the story.
So then they just... hang out, which supposedly shows what awesome friends they are.
We leaned against the wall some more in companionable silence. Edward and I didn't need to talk – we could talk, but we didn't need to. "We're going about hunting these killers all wrong. Even if we didn't know what was killing them, and sort of why, we're still doing it ass-backward."
I did not edit that. RIGHT after LKH tells us that they're sitting there in silence, SOMEBODY TALKS. And not like anyone BROKE the silence, but just out of the blue. Editor! EDITOR!
So then Edward starts talking about how they need to make it one big hunt, but the warrants of execution are in the hands of marshals who are totally inexperienced and don't know anything about anything. Why? Because that way Anita and Edward get to be the super-smart know-it-alls! It's the only way that Sues can look smart: make other people dumber!
"We were all kids once, Edward, but we need to take over the warrants before some of the other marshals get themselves killed."
"We need to snatch away those warrants because of course REAL marshals wouldn't know ANYTHING! And because if they caught the bad guys, I wouldn't get the glory!"
But you might say, isn't Anita just trying to save their lives?
No, she isn't. Because if she really cared about ANY of the marshals, she would have tipped them off in some way about the actual threat they're facing. She didn't do that, because she's a bitch. In fact, she doesn't share ANY information with the marshal division, even if it could help them in their other cases - she only drops relevant information when it allows her to be snotty to someone else about how ignorant they are.
"Raborn said that you, me, Jefferies, and Spotted-Horse are the cleanup crew. We come onto a warrant after other marshals have been killed or injured."
Possibly because none of you are REAL marshals? You're hit men (Edward, Bernardo) and serial killers (Anita, Olaf) who think that you should get first dibs because you're so much more experienced than everyone else, but you don't give enough of a shit to actually share relevant information.
Anita's really gotten a huge head, hasn't she? Now she's sulking because nobody calls her to deal with the problem until the REAL marshals, the ones who learned, earned and worked their way to the position she was GIVEN, are given a fair crack at it. Well, maybe that's because YOU AREN'T A REAL MARSHAL, DIPSHIT. Why SHOULD they give priority to you, especially since you won't even tell them what the problem is?
"It's the law, Anita. The warrant is theirs until they are unable to execute it, through death or injury, or they sign it over to another marshal for some other reason."
"Let's make them sign it over to us now."
"Waaaaaahhhhh, Edward, I want their warrants NOOOOOWWWWWW! I don't wanna wait until they're done with them, I want them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!"
"How?" he asked.
... UUUURRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH! That was on the level of "Sorry," Brom apologized. WHERE WAS THE FUCKING EDITOR?
"We could just ask," I said.
What?! Anita Blake ASKING for something she wants? Doesn't she mean taking the marshals' families hostage and threatening to rape them with her magic sex-fu powers if she doesn't get those warrants?
It turns out that Edward is way ahead of her, and has already asked the two male marshals. Unsurprisingly, they refused to hand over the warrants to some weird honorary-marshal guy who wouldn't give them an actual reason beyond, "It's too dangerous for you guys, but I'm so speshul that I can do it."
"So I'll ask the female marshal," I said.
What's that? Am I hallucinating? Is this.... some tacit admission that Anita Blake is FEMALE?!
That said, this is pretty rich from a bitch who once sneered at a wedding planner for asking her for help controlling the groomsmen, because the stupid woman expected some help from someone who was TECHNICALLY female. But when ANITA wants something, it's all "I'll go talk to the woman so she'll give me what I want!"
I frowned at him. "I don't really do girl talk, but I'll try to persuade her to sign the warrant over to me. If just one of them signs off, then we can hunt the monsters. Stop the crimes by killing the criminal, not by solving them."
The other marshals are trying to solve the crimes because YOU FUCKWITS know who is committing them, but refuse to tell anyone because allegedly it would be more dangerous for them, even though we KNOW that it's only dangerous if you call them "The Harlequin." If you call them the H-Squad, then no problem. Oh, but then Anita and her merry band of sociopaths couldn't save the day, thus reaffirming that killers and psychos are the only ones you should rely on!
So yeah, considering how fucking pathetic the Harlequin turn out to be later in the book, the other marshals COULD have stopped the crimes by killing the criminal... if you weren't withholding vital information for shits and giggles.
And you know what? LKH is trying to convince us that Anita and her Murdering Men are the COMPETENT ones and all the marshals are inexperienced boobs, but what she's REALLY showing us is that Anita will gladly withhold vital information that could get people killed so SHE can look better and get what she wants. Wow. Normally a character has to commit mass slaughter before I hate them this much, but Anita manages to do it in EVERY BOOK.
"You know and I know that we're legal assassins, not cops. Sometimes we solve crimes and catch the bad guys, but at the end of most days we kill people."
"And yet for some reason I think we're way better than the cops, who actually try to bring people to justice."
So since Immoral Actions + Whining = Moral Cleansing in LKH's world, Anita whines again about how she doesn't like being an assassin and it's getting on her nerves, blah blah blah. Again, no mention of even THINKING about quitting, or actually being troubled for more than a minute and a half. Well, we got that out of the way, so no more need to feel guilty or any crap like that.
And without ANY warning or transition, Edward just switches the topic to: "I think I've figured out a way to use you as bait to lure them out, if it's really you they're wanting." Yes, because at this point, we all care SO much about whether the Harlequin catch Anita.
So what is this awesome plan of Edward's? We don't find out! All he says is that they need the warrant, Anita's token bodyguards (she's super-tuff even if she has lots of bodyguards!), Bernardo and Olaf. I'm sorry, when did Edward turn into a big wuss who wants an army of backup people? And why the hell isn't Anita demanding to know what this plan that INVOLVES HER AS BAIT IS?
But no, Anita starts wanking about how "Olaf still thinks I'm his girlfriend or something." Because only ANITA is awesome enough that a super-serial-killer specializing in women who look JUST LIKE HER would want a REAL relationship.
"The couple that slaughters people together stays together."
"That wasn't really very funny," I said.
"I'll have you know that I do all the slaughtering, and my vast army of boytoys just stands to the side and applauds me!"
So rather than talk about, I dunno, THE PLAN, Anita and Edward have a lovely conversation about how someday one of them will have to kill Olaf. They have this conversation pretty much every single time Olaf appears, and it hasn't gotten any less boring.
"If he really plans on killing me he'll kill you first, Edward, because he knows that you won't rest until he's dead."
"You'd do the same for me."
"..." "Or you'll just lie there with your legs in the air, contemplating how he's not in your jurisdiction anymore and thus not your problem."
"Yeah, that's more likely."
"On second thought, if he killed you I'd get revenge when I had nothing else to do for the weekend."
"And yet, you'll call him in to back us up on this case."
"He's a good man in a fight."
"And the author has a lady-boner for assassins and serial killers."
So they blather about Olaf until LKH runs out of "witty" things to say about him.
"but I can't get bodyguards from home to come help us. We're marshals, they aren't, and being able to deputize people isn't a power the Marshals Service has been granted in a very long time."
BULLSHIT. This is why sticky notes aren't an acceptable series bible, people! This is ONLY brought up some books ago, namely in Cerulean Sins when Anita suddenly became James Bond with a magical coochie.
'She says that she deputized him." 'She's a federal marshal, Kennedy, she can do that."- Chapter 17
I had a badge, and I had the right to deputize anyone I saw fit in an emergency.
"Yet, you felt the matter was so urgent that you deputized," she checked her notes, "ten civilians to help you capture these two men."
- Chapter 36
So yeah, she CAN deputize people, and she HAS. I don't know if marshals can do this in real life, but... HELLO? This is a series with werewolves, vampires, faeries and a floaty sex-inducing spirit who smells like flowers. No government service should work EXACTLY the way it does in real life, because that is just.... STUPID. It would be like having Immigrations and Customs being exactly the same in a sci-fi series where aliens have landed!
This is ESPECIALLY stupid in this series, where Anita doesn't have to follow the most BASIC codes of conduct like "be courteous to people." But LKH just HAS to stick to the real-life procedures! It shows what an expert she is!
And yeah, I know she may have changed this because it doesn't happen that way in real life... but this retcon is just LAZY. Okay, you made a mistake, but it doesn't really affect the storytelling because this is a FANTASY world. So don't retcon it and cause a massive inconsistency which EVERY SINGLE READER will be able to spot! Just forge on ahead, dammit!
So even though Anita repeatedly said she could deputize civilians, and she DID in a previous book, it turns out that only just NOW are they deciding to allow deputization.
"Last month a marshal died, because backup didn't arrive in time, but a soldier just home from Iraq was able to take the marshal's weapons and finish the shapeshifter off."
"Which is why we're going to be able to deputize anybody we want, and not just the cops or soldiers. It makes perfect sense!"
"I did hear about that. It was tragic and brave and, so what?"
"Like, so WHAT? Can we talk about ME now?"
"You really don't check the official emails, do you?"
"Maybe not as often as I should; what'd I miss?"
"Well, fifteen emails from deposed royalty asking you to deposit a few million in your account, lots of free porn links, six offers to enlarge your penis-"
"Oooh! I want that one!"
So he shows Anita the email on his iPhone, which for some reason LKH won't refer to by name.
"You're joking me."
LKH is to hip to the young people's slang! Groovy!
So since Anita has been a vile bitch through the whole book so far, LKH tries to give her some self-righteous outrage on behalf of the shapeshifters. Yeah, she brushed off the death of a marshal with a "so what?", but OH NOES THIS LAW COULD BE USED AGAINST THE POOR ABUSED SHAPESHIFTERS, SUCH HORROR.
"We have the right to deputize not only if we are without backup, but if we feel that an individual's skill set is of benefit to the execution of our warrant and will save civilian lives. Mother of God, Edward, this gives us carte blanche to form a fucking mob."
YEAH. Like you've done BEFORE. You know, IN THIS SERIES. Which Anita didn't bat a lash at.
This is EXACTLY what she did in a previous book, but now she's all morally outraged because someone MIGHT abuse it for their own ends. Here's the thing: they have the RIGHT to deputize people, but that doesn't mean they WILL. And it certainly doesn't mean that they're going to deputize a few dozen gunslinging rednecks to go kill ALL the vampire/shapeshifters they come across. It's just Anita reading the worst into the situation so she can freak out about it, so we'll know that she's "good," a noble figure fighting against the forces of bigotry and all that crap.
And again, this is something she's ALREADY DONE. It is printed in actual books that are available in stores. LKH seems to have the whole idea of continuity BACKWARDS - she thinks stuff that only happens in her head counts as canon and people should respect it, but she thinks that actual stuff PUT IN THE BOOKS can be completely retconned at any given time, and nobody should notice it!
And again, all this moral outrage is coming from a hired killer who regularly DOES form mobs to go find and kill people, bends the law to her own whims, and frequently FLOUTS the law for whatever the fuck she wants. But if other people even have the possibility of doing something naughty, ooooh, it's evil and bad and bigoted!
"There's potential for abuse, yes."
"Potential for abuse, there's potential for pitchforks and torches," I said.
Yeah, there's potential for problems in ANY law or amendment, if you take it to the extreme, you dumb bitch.
"Anita, come on, no one would use pitchforks or torches anymore. It'd be flashlights and guns."
Oh, more humor.
"This isn't funny, Edward; this is a civil rights problem waiting to happen."
"Which for some reason upsets me now, even though Raborn said in the PREVIOUS CHAPTER that this sort of thing was happening and I totally shrugged it off!"
"I didn't know you cared about that, or did that change when you helped get the law passed to spare little vampires when their master is the bad guy?"
Swoon at what a champion for rights Anita is... while she murders vampires for minor offenses and never tries to change THAT law because then she wouldn't be allowed to kill as much as she likes.
"I'm just saying that this little amendment to the law could get out of hand really fast."
Funny how when Anita sees a new amendment, she immediately thinks of the most abusive way it could be used. I wonder why that is.
"It could, it probably will, but for us, right now, it's useful."
"Are you saying we deputize some of the bodyguards from St. Louis?"
YES, YOU BRAINLESS WHOREBAG. That is what you were talking about TWO MINUTES AGO.
Anita keeps whining about the stupid amendment and how it immediately means legalized lynch mobs, even though she's already done that before. Edward finally shuts her stretched-out mouth, and I utter a sigh of relief.
"You know most of them now; you want to help pick?"
"I trust your judgment," he said.
"High praise coming from you."
"No, it's just that I don't care if you bring in Boytoy 1, Boytoy 2 or Boytoy 3. They're all the same except for hair color anyway."
No, it's all used as another ego-stroke for Anita, since of COURSE she deserves Edward gushing about how wonderful she is.
"Don't mention it, but first you need her to sign the warrant over to you. Get the warrant, and then I have a plan."
"And don't hesitate to torture her to get that warrant. After all, we're the only competent ones, so anything we do is okay."
He wouldn't tell me the plan, but since he'd actually admitted his "real" name to me, I could let him keep his secret plan – for now.
- Yeah, because his name is SO essential to continued survival, and knowing a plan that uses her as BAIT is not.
- I wish I could say the plan is brilliant, but this is LKH. Edward's master scheme probably involves all of them hiding under the bed and waiting for one of the Harlequin to fall asleep on it... or worse, decide to pork Anita.
- And this is THREE! Three chapters that are entirely composed of nothing but two people talking about STUFF.