Friday, August 7, 2015

Hit List Chapter 1

So... someone is dead. Yeah, that's sort of become standard in the Anita Blake series - nobody ever just gets hurt, they DIE in a shower of gore and "thicker things.

THE MAIN PIECE of the body lay on the ground, on its back in the middle of a smooth grassy field.

Smaller pieces could be found in a nearby McDonald's, where they had been mistaken for dead rodents and turned into that morning's McNuggets.

And since Anita needs to note EVERYTHING about her surroundings, including stuff she isn't sure about, she comments that she MIGHT be in a softball field. She's also with Edward, who - even though this is the twentieth book in the WHOLE FRIGGIN' SERIES - has to be described to us like he's a new character.

The “we” was Edward, U.S. Marshal Ted Forrester, and me, U.S. Marshal Anita Blake.

  1. We can fucking figure out that "me" is Anita Blake. She's only been the main character and narrator for EVERY SINGLE FUCKING BOOK in the whole series, including the one named for one of her boyfriends!
  2. And thanks for specifying what "Edward" we're talking about. Since she's in Washington, I might have assumed she meant the sparklepire.
  3. Wow, clunky introduction of Edward, huh? She couldn't write something like "Edward knelt down beside the body and examined the ragged wounds. He was a US Marshal under the name of Ted Forrester, which was the only reason the cops let him in." She has to land it in your lap and tell you "we means Edward and me!"

Edward was his real name, the real him.

As opposed to his fake name and fake him, which was Fluffernuts the Mighty.

Forrester was his secret identity, like Clark Kent for Superman, but to the other marshals he was good ol’ boy Ted, once a bounty hunter, now a marshal, grandfathered in under the Preternatural Endangerment Act just like me.

  1. I will kill something if I read her describing him as "good ol' boy Ted."
  2. How can the identity that 95% of the people he meets be his "secret" identity? Wouldn't the supernatural hit man be more of a "secret identity"?!
  3. Hear that? That sound was LKH hammering clumsy exposition into your skulls.
  4. And it wouldn't be an LKH book without shitty misused commas.

I’d been a vampire executioner, not a bounty hunter.

"Now I just banged vampires instead of executing them."

Also, explain to me the difference between being a bounty hunter and hunting down people and dragging them to the authorities for money?

But either way, there we stood with real badges; legally we were real cops.

Which, in LKHland, means they have a license to kill and nobody will ever question anything they do.

Edward still took assassination jobs if the pay was high enough, or the hit interesting enough. He specialized in killing only dangerous things, like wereanimals and vampires.

Sometimes, when he got really pumped up, he went off and fought the really scary ones: CLOWNS.

One thing I don't understand is how nobody in the government has figured out that Edward the Supernatural Assassin and "Ted" Forrester the US Marshal are one and the same. What, are there never ANY witnesses to his presence in cities where supernatural hits are done? Does the government have NO insider sources?

Crime fighting had actually begun to take up most of his time. Work does interfere with your hobbies.

Yes, that's why Anita hardly ever has sex, because her work is always getting in the way.

So we hear that there are other marshals there, talking to the police, but of course nobody else is standing out among the dismembered body parts. Of course, considering who gets made a US marshal in this series - assassins and serial killers - those marshals are probably a pedophile, a slaver and a cannibal.

Maybe the others had gotten tired of looking at them;

Don't be silly! It's because they're all wimps!

we had come straight from the airport in Tacoma to the crime scene. The other cops had been here longer.

... so we have to have the infodump puked on our faces about what "Ted" does as a hobby, but she doesn't tell us where Tacoma is? Personally, I had to google it. Tacoma isn't L.A., New York, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans or another American city that you instantly can place the general location of - if I hadn't googled it, I would have thought it was New Mexico or something.

And... wait. Tacoma, WASHINGTON? So LKH is setting this particular novel in the Pacific Northwest, aka the general area where the entire Twilight series is set? Wow. Subtle.

Yeah, it's possible that she JUST HAPPENED to write a book set in the Pacific Northwest while the sparkle-emo-vampire series is still a bestseller. Then again, she also wrote in:

  • doppelgangers of Legolas and Aragorn while the Lord of the Rings trilogy was being released
  • a sleeping superpowered vampire queen-of-all whom all vampires fear, who is waking up and may turn the world into a living hell (just like Anne Rice's Akasha)
  • bringing up JRR Tolkien's fiction in her faery books just so she can piss on it for not being "accurate"
  • a trip to Vegas and encounters with the local weretigers, just months after the release of Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand, which has the same basic description (but less sex and more plot)
  • In the same book as the Vegas trip, she also had Anita randomly be rescued by the archangel Michael, about a year after Harry Dresden acquired the archangel Uriel as his patron. It was also a massive Big-Lipped Alligator Moment because it came out of nowhere and was never referenced again!

So yeah, she has no shame. I can totally buy that she is trying to piggyback the "sanitized" Twilight by randomly having the latest story take place there. Because obviously the SETTING is all people want to read about in Twilight - all the Twitards are reading it not because of the creepy romance or the Mary Sue whose flat ass is the center of the universe, but because they just ADORE the Pacific Midwest.

Dismembered bodies did lose their charm pretty fast.

They had charm to begin with?

And because whining about cold damp weather was just SO charming from Bawla Wan, Anita starts doing it too:

It was fifty freaking degrees here. Whoever heard of fifty being the regular temperature in August? It was a hundred-plus with heat index at home in St. Louis.

Yes, because St. Louis is the standard against which the rest of the US is measured. Oh wait, it isn't. Because the US is a huge country with a variety of climates, ranging from frigid to desert. It just SCREAMS "I'm charmingly provincial" to act like your hometown is the only norm.

Also, from someone who ALWAYS refers to the act of sex as "fucking," it sounds a little weird for her to say "freaking."

“Is the body lying on its back, or its ass?” I asked.
“You mean because it’s bisected at midchest and the parts are about ten feet away?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Does it matter?” he asked.

  1. Why is she asking?
  2. Why can't she tell? Isn't it obvious just by LOOKING?
  3. And yes, the woman who is asking this is being paid a king's ransom for her "insights."

And because we were dying to hear about it, we hear more about "Ted", as if Edward's alter-ego were SO fascinating.

Ted wore a wellloved, well-creased cowboy hat,

Can someone explain to me what wellloving is?

He was five foot eight, which seemed tall to me at five- three.

In case you're not familiar with the Anita Blake books, EVERYBODY taller than Anita is "tall to me." Yes, she also thinks that five-three is freakishly tiny and that EVERYBODY will regard you as some kind of bald-footed hobbit.

This comment is even weirder because the average height for Caucasian males in the US is actually TALLER than Edward by over two inches. So Edward is actually shorter than average, but because he's not as tiny as Anita we're supposed to think that he's "tall."

So Anita sits there for awhile, thinking random thoughts that just annoy the reader: first she thinks about how the only things you can do when confronted by a dismembered body are A) puke, B) run away screaming, or C) make stupid random comments that don't make any sense. She also wangsts about how It seemed wrong that the blond, blue-eyed WASP tanned darker than I did with my mother’s black hair and brown eyes. I was half Hispanic—shouldn’t I tan darker than white-bread boy?

Waaaaaaa, I don't tan! Of course, the author makes a point of always pointing out how I can "pass" for white, how awful Hispanic heritage is, and how toilet-paper-pale women are so much more desirable than tanned ones. But WAAAAAAAHHHH it's not faaaaaaiiiirrrrrr!

Seriously, we're on the edge of ANOTHER racist Anita Blake moment.

I blinked at him. “They won’t find the heart. Just like they didn’t find the last three hearts. The killer, or killers, is taking the heart as a trophy, or proof of the kill. Like the woodsman in Snow White taking the heart back to the Wicked Queen in a box, or something.”  “I need you here, working this case, not lost in your head.”

... huh? What about that is "lost in your head"? Making a fairy tale comparison to something happening in real life? That doesn't sound so out of touch with reality.

"Lost in her head" would be the first chapter of Skin Trade, where she reacted to a severed head by staring at the photos on her desk and thinking about her pretty boytoys.

So then Anita starts whining about how she's tired of looking at dismembered bodies in general, which would mean a lot more if

  1. she ever considered quitting.
  2. she ever talked about quitting.
  3. she ever actually followed up on her wangst by, I dunno, talking about the effect it has on her and how she wants to escape it and stuff. Like all Anita's angst, it's mentioned once per book and then dropped.

"Are you asking if looking at things like this bothers me?”
“I would never ask that, it’s against the guy code,” I said, and just saying it that way made me smile a little.

Ah yes, I forgot that the Anita Blake universe is set in a parallel dimension where casual sexism is not only normal but encouraged, "girlie" things are the height of shame and weakness, and "guy" stuff is all macho, tough and silent. In this parallel dimension, everybody is constantly spying on everyone else to identify any signs of being "girlie" or not "guy" enough, so they can be mocked and ostracized.

By the by, I'm pretty sure that most guys wouldn't have a problem with someone asking if a DISMEMBERED BODY bothers them. And they probably wouldn't mind admitting it, because... DISMEMBERED BODY. HELLO?

And once Edward - you know, a FUCKING ASSASSIN - admits that dead bodies don't bug him (THANK YOU FOR THE INSIGHT!), Anita finds something else to blather about: weapons porn. I just wish LKH would go all the way and have Anita admire the hard, glistening thickness of her gun barrel, and thrust her long stiff knife in and out of the sheath while shrieking "YES YES OH YES HARDER FASTER!"

I shrugged, and finally let myself huddle in the thin Windbreaker. At least with my main gun at the small of my back instead of in the shoulder holster, I was able to zip it and not compromise my gun.

Yes, because it's SO easy to reach up into the back of THIS

compared to reaching down the front of it to get to a NORMAL holster.

I still had my backup gun in the shoulder holster and a big-ass knife down my back that attached to the specially made shoulder rig.

Be afraid of me! OH PLEASE be afraid of me! Because I have lots of phallic metal objects, which makes me DANGEROUS!

And what does Anita blabbing about her speshul weapons have to do with this scene? NOTHING. Not a damn thing. This scene is just two people blathering at each other. No action at all.

And because that weapons spiel had nothing to do with anything, we then find out that Anita is unhappy because she's away from her boytoys' freakshow penises.

I missed the men in my life when I was away too long, and this was our fourth crime scene in a fourth city. I was tired of planes, tired of other cops, tired of being away.

  1. "Tired of not getting porked every three hours and being forced to have orgies every two days."
  2. Boo hoo. Again, she never even considers quitting, EVER. Why? Because if she quit her job, she couldn't strut around boasting about how tough she is and how she's seen it all, and she would have to give up her apparent license to kill.
  3. Also, LKH has spent the last several books emphasizing that Anita can't go ANYWHERE without her boytoys, because a bunch of people will croak if she doesn't "feed" often enough.
  4. And by "often enough," I mean a minimum of once per day. Usually more often.
  5. Not to mention that her inner zoo tries to break out maybe five times a day, meaning she needs a were of EVERY TYPE on hand at all times.
  6. And yet here she is traipsing around the country for days, with no boytoys in sight.

So Edward natters about how he's missing his girlfriend's daughter in some sort of stage musical, and we get infodumped about how He’d been living with and engaged to Donna for years, but never quite married. Uh, "never quite"? What does that mean? They're engaged, which means they are NOT MARRIED. That's what "engaged" means.

Is LKH a little hazy on what the hell "engaged" means?

And we're infodumped a lot of stuff about how the kids think of him as their dad and he take them to classes and such... wait, what? Only one kid has been mentioned! If you're going to infodump us about minor characters we've hardly ever seen mentioned in this book, DO IT THOROUGHLY, DAMMIT.

“It was more fun to hunt monsters before we had someone to go home to,” I said.

"It was MUCH better to go out, risk life and limb and almost get killed, so I could stumble home to my lonely cold home without even a dog to greet me. That was SO much more fun!"

So they blather for awhile about Becca's musical, which is so boring that... boring that.... that... snzzzzz... so sleepy...

The real trouble with this case for me was that I knew exactly why these victims had been chosen. I even knew what was killing them. The trouble was I couldn’t tell anyone but Edward, because if I told the police everything I knew, the killers would come after me and every policeman that I told, and everyone that they told.

.... so, the CIA is bumping people off?

The Harlequin were the vampire equivalent of police, spies, judge, jury, and executioner.

So in other words, they're the vampire equivalent of HER.

They were also some of the greatest warriors to ever live, or unlive.

unlive [ʌnˈlɪv]
to live so as to nullify, undo, or live down (past events or times)

So yeah, that doesn't make a lot of sense. I know she's talking about vampires, but all I can think of is the Harlequin living backwards like Merlin from T.H. White's books.

Some of them were vampires and some of them were wereanimals, which was how they were slicing apart the bodies of the weretigers they were killing across the country.

So... unless you have a mixed group, you can't slice apart weretiger bodies? How does that work?

The body at our feet looked like a human man.

It was actually a human woman in drag.

Before he died he’d been able to shift to a big-ass tiger,

Does anyone else think that "big-ass" is LKH's new favorite word?

If two people were equally fast, equally strong, but one was better trained at fighting, the better trained one would win.

And if the lesser-trained one has a gun, then the lesser-trained one will win.

Seriously, it astonishes me that she actually tells us this stuff like we don't know.

So far, none of the weretigers had been anything but ordinary people who just happened to turn into weretigers.

... except for that one guy who liked to dress up like Marilyn Monroe, cover himself in Christmas ornaments and sing the greatest hits of KISS. He was a little odd.

So having sat next to a dead body for what seems like hours while talking about EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN but their stupid case, they decide to natter on some more. DAMMIT, WHY CAN'T THE TALKING STOP?

“It’s partly that we know so much the other police need to know.”

"Like the fact that Dumbledore dies at the end of Half-blood Prince?"
"Well, that too."

“We settled this, Anita. The . . . ones who can’t be named—” He glared at me. “I really hate that we can’t even say their names out loud. It feels like we’re in a Harry Potter book talking about He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Except Voldemort was actually scary. The Harlequin... uh, we're told we should be scared, but all they do is plant bugs, leap out going "booga booga!" occasionally, and kill a few random extras.

“You know the deal, Edward; if you mention their name without their invitation they hunt you down and kill you for it."

Yes, apparently nobody in the world knows about them, even though they pop up and kill you if you say a fairly common word like "Harlequin." Even though, you know, there are a lot of scenarios in which people say "harlequin" - Mardi Gras, theater history, romance novels, a number of rugby teams, and hundreds of other things. Are we supposed to think that whenever someone expresses their love for romance novels, the Harlequin appear and kill them and everyone they know?!

Random Person 1: "So, who's your favorite Batman character?"
Random Person 2: "Hmmm, I guess either the Joker or Harley Quinn."
Harlequin: "MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Mine is an evil laugh!"
Random People: "Who the hell are you?"
Harlequin: "I am one of the Harlequin! If you even mention us, we will appear and KILL YOU MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Random Person 2: "I said HARLEY QUINN, not Harlequin! You know, the Jokeresque chick from Batman?!"
Harlequin: "Oh.... awkward. I'll just see myself out..."
Random Person 1: "Yeah, you do that."

"If I told the other police, everyone who said their name would be hunted down and slaughtered. I don’t know about you, but these guys are scary good, and they seem to have knowledge of modern forensics.”

  1. And by "knowledge of modern forensics," she means they've watched a few episodes of CSI.
  2. ... if that much, since apparently not leaving behind hair, fingerprints, gobs of spit and used tissues counts as "knowledge of modern forensics."
  3. So apparently you can tell people all you want about the Harlequin, as long as you don't actually say the NAME.
  4. That's a HUGE plot hole, because it means you can use charades and mime it out, you can use a nickname like "The Brotherhood of Evil Vampires," you can write it out on paper.... ANYTHING as long as you don't say ONE SOLITARY WORD.
  5. And how the hell do the Harlequin know anyway?! It was established in The Harlequin that most of their spooky-woowoo powers are due to technology like bugs and cameras. Have they got every single person in the ENTIRE WORLD under surveillance?!

Edward points out that apparently wearing cloaks, gloves and hoods makes them FORENSIC-PROOF. Yeah, we live in an age where a single flake of skin can identify somebody, so I don't think just wearing GLOVES is going to magically keep you from leaving behind any evidence... like, say, FOOTPRINTS. And I'm pretty sure that hoods don't keep hair from falling out.

Then again, this IS the Anita Blake series, where the police can't possibly identify a vampire kill without having a short whiny person come to the crime scene, wangst, and announce, "See those two little holes in the neck? That means it was a vampire!"

“And the Whatevers that are on your side don’t know the faces of the others. They wear masks when they meet, like some terrorist cells, so they can spy on each other if they need to.”  “So we have no faces to give them, no names except nicknames, and those match the masks they wear.”

"Hey Anita, how come we're talking about stuff we already know, especially in a place where we can be overheard?"
"Because this is LKH's version of exposition, as you know, Bob."

Male eyes spying through a hole closeup

“I don’t think assassins this good wear Venetian carnival masks in downtown Tacoma, so the nicknames and masks don’t help,” he said.
“So we know everything and nothing useful,” I said.

That pretty much sums up this entirely, utterly worthless scene.

And then they have a pissy little argument about the Mother of All Darkness, ie the Akasha ripoff who is now a vampire ghost who makes people.... attack Anita and her harem. Yeah, she's as utterly ineffectual as all the other characters in this series.

“If I’d taken the contract to kill the Queen vampire, she’d be dead right now.”

capitalization: you Fail at It.

“You don’t understand, Edward. She’s the darkness, the night itself made alive.”

"None of this actually makes any sense, but it sounds SOOOOOO DRAMATIC!"

So they argue for awhile about how they would have killed the MOAD, and Anita vomits more exposition that Edward already knows, because apparently LKH thinks that's better than just having Anita THINK about it.

“She survived the total destruction by fire of her body and was able to send her spirit out to take over the body of other vampire council members. I wouldn’t put anything past her.”
“So even if we find Morte d’Amour, the Lover of Death, and destroy him, she’ll just jump to another host.”
“She can survive as a disembodied spirit, Edward; I’m not sure she can be killed.”

Again... WHY ARE THEY HAVING THIS CONVERSATION? Oh yeah, LKH sucks at exposition, so she just has the characters chitchat for while chapters about stuff they ALREADY KNOW and/or don't need to hear. Because in real life, people totally do that.

Male eyes spying through a hole closeup

Also, take a drink for somebody translating a French phrase that doesn't need translating, while also doing it wrong because Morte d'Amour means "death of [feminine] love." Ah, that's good letdown...

“Everything dies, Anita. The universe will die eventually.”

Whhhhoooaaaaa... deep, man. That's, like, cosmic and stuff.

“I’m not going to sweat what happens five billion years from now, Edward; the universe can take care of itself. How do we stop them from killing innocent weretiger citizens, and the bigger question, how do we stop her?”

Seriously, why did they call these two to come help find the Harlequin? If they got any more useless, they would be foretelling the future that will be if nobody changes their mind.

“Why doesn’t your boyfriend know? Jean-Claude is Master of the City of St. Louis, and what’s left of the European power structure is trying to make him head of a new vampire council here in the States. Why aren’t the vampires and all the other wereanimals you’re hanging out with helping to stop this?”

HOLY SHIT, he is actually telling her what her boyfriend's job is! And what her boyfriend is currently doing! This has gone past "As You Know, Bob" and has gone into "Bob, I'm going to tie you down and cram exposition down your choking throat."

“The other . . . whatevers are hunting these guys. They’ll be traveling as they hear about the bodies, but they’re behind us, Edward. We’ve been first on the ground in the last three cities.”  “For preternaturals that are supposed to be the greatest spies and assassins ever, they suck at anything useful.”

Holy shit, he's actually pointing out how completely full of suckitude the Harlequin are! A minute ago they were going all "Oooo, they're so scary and smart!" and now Edward is actually pointing out how totally pathetic they are.

“We’re not doing much better,” I said.

So what? That doesn't excuse the epic suckitude of the Harlequin, who are supposed to be MASTERS at this sort of thing! Anita and Edward aren't even real cops - they're professional killers given marshal status because LKH thinks it makes them the same as people who actually worked their way up.

And wait, I thought the Harlequin COMMITTED these crimes, and now we're being told that they are hunting whoever DID kill the weretigers? I'm so confused! What the hell is going on? How can someone puke all this exposition in our faces and STILL not name it clear what the hell is going on?!

“So the vampires can’t help us. We’re cops, let’s be cops,” he said.
“What does that mean?”

It means you buy donuts and coffee. WHAT DO YOU THINK, YOU DUMB BIMBO?

“We work the scene. This is the kill site. This is where we can learn new things about these bastards. Things that aren’t legends, but what they did only a few hours ago. It can help us catch them.”

This entire scene makes me want to whack myself between the eyes with a hammer.

They have just spent most of the chapter STANDING AROUND saying stuff they already know and having discussions that they should have had elsewhere, instead of actually DOING SOMETHING. And now, right near the end, they're all like, "Hey, maybe we should do our jobs instead of yammering about musicals, boyfriends and bad exposition."

I swear, if LKH had written Lord of the Rings, they wouldn't get around to leaving Rivendell until Sauron had practically conquered Middle-Earth. And the characters would spend all their time having sex. And Frodo would be a big-boobed girl... you know, never mind. This entire topic is making me sick. Suffice to say, LKH's books have become a minimum of 90% padding.

“You really believe that?”
“I have to believe that, and so do you.”

SHUT UP. SHUT UP. SHUT THE HELL UP. They never shut up. They just talk on and on and on with no actual content. It's like listening to Sybil Fawlty on the phone.

And you know what? This is the FIRST CHAPTER, the one that's supposed to suck you in. There are probably going to be four or five MORE chapters with the same level of content. Just YAP YAP YAP!

There was a faint bitter smell because we were standing near the end of the body. Death isn’t neat, or pretty, or clean; it’s all outhouse smells as your body does everything it can do all at once, one last time.

It amazes me that people think this woman writes really explicit, gory literature. I've read more explicit shit in Newsweek. Back when Newsweek was something people read.

“This body was sliced, neat, very few cuts, very efficient.”

... again, why do the cops need HER to say this? Oh wait, because the universe revolves around her hamlike backside, so she has to be the bestest expert EVER.

“So why tear the body into pieces?”
“Because they wanted to do it, and were strong enough to do it,” I said.

Dear Diary: Today I offered my shocking, unique and on-the-nose insights into vampire and were thought processes to the cops. Nobody could know them as I do, and no one can explain such complex behavior to mere mortals.
Then someone told me that Larry the janitor had said the exact same things ten minutes ago. Now those idiots are saying they don't need me! BLASPHEMERS! I'll have my army of weres and vampires kill them all!
- Anita

Unsurprisingly, Edward isn't satisfied by the "because they could" explanation, which is about as lazy as you can get in crimework without actually refusing to investigate.

He was one of the few people on the planet I would have taken that attitude from.

Yes, if anyone else had told her that she was wrong and she should actually THINK ABOUT IT, she would totally have shot them in the head! Because she's a badass! WOOOOO, BE AFRAID!

And yes, Anita the super-awesome expert in supernatural killings that nobody else can rival... just got told she was totally wrong, and that she was lazing around. But she's the best! Don't forget that! Nobody else could do this job except someone just as bloodthirsty as her! They TOTALLY could not ask a random third-grader and get the same answers!

So Anita announces that THIS killing is speshul, because it was apparently done by someone else than the first few killers. Some of the bodies were ripped apart recklessly, and some were carefully cut apart in a precise manner to make them LOOK like they were recklessly ripped apart... even though the killer was obviously strong enough to rip it apart in a plausibly reckless manner.

“This was a cold kill like the second one. The other two kills, the murderer took joy in it.”

Yes, apparently she can psychically divine this sort of crap. How? Because someone who's killing cold-bloodedly won't do it MESSILY. They might get goop on their shoes!

We then have a staggering boring conversation about the fact that Edward enjoys killing people, because he likes seeing "the light die in their eyes." Why? Because LKH has a massive crush on serial killers, and she doesn't see the whole "murder" thing as being a big deal.

We’d started out with him being my teacher, and then he’d paid me the ultimate compliment. He’d told me a few years ago that he wanted to see which of us was better.

He said that after he saved my ass for the thousandth time.

He wasn’t sure anymore, and it was a fantasy of his to have us hunt each other, so we could settle the debate once and for all.

Well, I can tell you what would happen. Edward would charge in with his weapons, and find Anita fucking six men at once while screaming nonsensical sex talk, because that's how she fights off her enemies now. He would shoot her in the head, killing her instantly. Her boytoys would keep having sex with her corpse for several hours before noticing that she's dead, since her usual sexual activities involve lying there like a dead fish, and they would chalk up the blood to her usual back-clawing.

When he first told me, I’d been convinced I’d be the one that would die; now I wasn’t so sure, maybe I would win. Maybe I could call Donna and the kids and tell them . . . Tell them what? That their family was destroyed because Edward and I had had the ultimate guy moment and I was the better man?

  1. Yeah, you keep fantasizing about that. Seriously, a six-year-old with a BB gun could take Anita out.
  2. And "maybe I would win?" Yo, idjit, you have been embarrassing yourself as a combatant since the very beginning of the series. You had to get rescued by the person you were there to save one time. Stop pretending you actually have a chance against someone halfway competent.
  3. And of course, only guys ever attack each other or display violent behavior. Girls flutter and faint.
  4. So of course, the "ultimate guy moment" would involve violence. Because of course, men don't interact except through violence and hunting and macho posturing.

“So you think the killers enjoyed the kill?” My voice was as empty and neutral as any I had, just two killers talking shop over someone else’s kill.
“I think they might have enjoyed the killing. There’s no way to tell when a killer is this controlled,” he said.

Yes, we're supposed to like these characters, and we're supposed to actually identify with Anita. You know, the person who crushes on cold-blooded murderers, and identifies herself as a killer while wangsting about it.

How does that work again?

There was still enough of his chest and stomach left to show that he’d had muscle tone. He’d hit the gym, and it had done him no good at all.

Please, God, not another gym scene. I don't think I could take it.

So we're finally told what the point of all this is, after a whole chapter of dicking around. Apparently the Harlequin are killing clanless tigers, because they are searching for gold tigers, which some of the Harlequin have kept hidden. Yes, as if it wasn't confusing enough, LKH doesn't define whether ALL of the Harlequin are killing clanless tigers, or whether it's only SOME of them.

Hidden from the other Harlequin and from the Mother of All Darkness; the fact that they’d managed to hide them from her when she was at the height of her powers said just how good the Harlequin were at subterfuge.

Yes, they're so good at subterfuge that they leave dismembered bodies all over the place instead of, I dunno, sealing them in concrete and dumping them in the ocean. Truly they are masters of subtlety!

It also turns out that the gold tigers have gone public, but the Harlequin is still hunting and killing clanless tigers. Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone that the Harlequin might suspect that some of them are being kept secret, because Anita bitches about how pointless it all is.

And because we've gone for a few minutes without some mind-numbingly dull padding...

I stood up, waiting for my bad knee to protest squatting too long, but it didn’t. I realized my “bad knee” hadn’t been bad in a while.

Were you all desperate to know about this? I know I was! Next I want to hear if her scraped elbow has healed! I NEED TO KNOW! TELL ME, DAMN YOU!

I was Jean- Claude’s human servant and metaphysically tied to several wereanimals.

This endows me with the amazing Reverse-Harem-Anime powers!

So we're told that apparently Anita's pre-human-servant/panwere-queen injuries are healing themselves. Why? I assume it's so all those ugly gnarly scars will be erased, allowing Anita to be utterly perfect in every way. This is the chance for Anita to ask questions that critics and snarkers have been asking for YEARS.

Edward stood beside me, and he favored one leg a little. He had an injury on that one from a hunt that went bad.

He would never again underestimate a marmoset with a pickax.

I thought, How old is Edward? Will he age and I won’t?

Uh, YEAH. Much like her squeaky-clean Mormon successor, LKH is obsessed with age, and she wants to keep Anita a twentysomething forever - she has been quoted as saying that she will never allow Anita to turn thirty (possibly because she thinks a twentysomething having orgies with boys who aren't old enough to drive is okay).

Since her last timeskip means Anita is now twenty-nine, she's gotta find some way around the age question. Wait, here's an idea - Anita will stop aging completely because of her supernatural amazingness! So she won't count as really aging!

Will my ties to the supernatural keep healing me?

Let's say it together, folks: DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH...

It was a weird thought to think that Edward might grow older faster than I did.

Yeah, she doesn't think abut how weird it would be to outlive her loving family, or even her wereboytoys - just Edward.

Does she continue thinking about this? Does she feel upset by the thought? Does she give any indication of actually being disturbed? OF COURSE NOT. It's immediately dropped and stomped on by the next rambling conversation, which is...

... oh HELL NO. The next conversation is basically a spoken version of the whole "we outed the gold tigers, so how come the Harlequin are killing clanless tigers?" contemplation. I am so bored, I might actually hit myself in the head with a hammer.

“Why keep killing the tigers?” I said.
“You mean now that they know you and Jean-Claude have your own gold tigers in St. Louis?”

"Yes, now that they know I and Jean-Claude have our own gold tigers in St. Louis."
"You mean St. Louis, where you live?"
"Yes, St. Louis."
"You mean in Missouri?"
"Yes, that one. That is where Jean-Claude lives."
"Jean-Claude is the Master of the City. In St. Louis."
"So you told them that you had gold tigers?"
"Yes, we said we had gold tigers, and they are in St. Louis."
"Why are the Harlequin supposed to be targeting them?"
"Because they are gold tigers, and some members of the Harlequin have been keeping them hidden."
"But you've revealed that they are in St. Louis."
"Yes, which should have made the Harlequin stop killing weretigers."
"But it hasn't."
"You live in St. Louis?"

“Maybe they’re looking for a specific weretiger.”
“Maybe, but why, or who, and again why? There’s nothing to be gained by it.”

They better follow up on this exchange, or my head will explode from rage.

But then, since the plot is in danger of revolving around something that is NOT Anita, Edward proposes that the whole elaborate murder scheme is just to separate her from her harem and her army of bodyguards (because what super-tough frightening killer DOESN'T have dozens of bodyguards?).

"Here, it’s just you and the police.”

"And Crazy Mike, but don't underestimate him. He's a biter."

“You think they’d risk attacking me with the cops around? I mean, the whole concept of these guys is that no one knows they exist. They’re really invested in being this big dark secret.”

... and yet, they pop up and kill people who are just discussing their favorite rugby team. Wow, they suck at secrecy.

“If Mommie Darkest told them to kill you, would they risk being outed to the human police?”

... or, in villain fashion, they kill her and then kill the nearby cops. Or maybe the Super-Scary Vampire Police could actually manage to kill her without tipping anyone off. Why don't they just get a sniper to blow her head off from a rooftop?

Edward points out that either they might be trying to kill her, which would be easier away from her harem, or they might be trying to bodysnatch her. Honestly, I don't care either way, because Anita is one of the few characters more repulsive than Bella Swan. And this just highlights what a bunch of idiots the main characters are, because apparently this occurred to NO ONE AT ALL, even though allegedly they're super-smart vampires with brilliant tactical knowledge. And, you know, this sort of thing happened THREE BOOKS AGO.

He spoke without looking at me, “Please, tell me this isn’t the first time you wondered if this was a trap for you.”
“I thought they didn’t know the gold tigers were in St. Louis. They should have stopped killing the others after they learned that. It’s one of the reasons we made it public.”

"Waaaaaahhh, I didn't KNOOOOOWWWW. I thought they were just doing what my tiny brain could comprehend! I couldn't expect something TRICKY!"

“So either she forgot to tell them to stop, because she’s busy doing something else . . .”
“Or she’s just that crazy,” I said.
He nodded. “Or she’s that crazy, or they’re waiting to either kidnap you, or kill you.”

Yup, they're making ALL these suppositions from the fact that the Harlequin are killing random clanless weretigers. Now, with no evidence to support it, they've turned the whole thing into a crazy global conspiracy based on a vampire queen who has suddenly gone insane for no reason, Anita being the center of the universe, and the assumption that they know EVERYTHING there is to know about the Harlequin's motivations.

The stupid chokes me, people.

“You need to talk to Jean-Claude.”
“I thought you didn’t like him,” I said.
“You don’t like Donna either,” he said. “So we each don’t like the people that the other one loves.”

"But that's DIFFERENT. Jean-Claude is a sexy French guy in leather pants, so you've got no excuse not to like him. I hate Donna because she's a GURL."

So Edward says that she can't just go home to St. Louis, because he would have to leave her... drumroll... ALONE at the airport, which is obviously where the bad guys would attack her. Of course, they don't know if she's even the target, but we're going to assume she is because everything has to be about Anita.

And this makes even LESS sense when you consider that Jean-Claude has a PRIVATE PLANE. He could fill it up with Anita's boytoys, send them to Tacoma, have them do their public hanging-off-her-like-staticky-styrofoam-peanuts act, have Anita sniff about how prudish everyone is for staring, and have all of them sweep off to St. Louis.

“So what do I do?”
“Have some guards come in from St. Louis.”

"It's the only way this book can make its quota of gratuitous sex scenes! I mean, who else is there? HUMANS? Ew!"

“How do I explain that to the other cops?”
“We’ll think of something.”

"And I'm sure it will involve sneering at the cops for being evil right-wing prudes who secretly think weres and vampires are better in bed, and you ignoring any valid criticism because you assume they just hate you for having a vagina."

So the other marshals come over, and Edward turns on the fake charm. Yes, a warm sweet smile looks SO normal over a dismembered body.

I wasn’t nearly that good, but I managed a pleasant blank face to my fellow marshals.

I knew it. That is totally a Bawla reaction.

They asked, “See anything that’ll help us catch these bastards?”
Edward and I dutifully said, “No.”

"And by that we mean 'yes,' but we're going to keep the cops in the dark as usual."

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