Anita Blake has a complicated life. Born a necromancer and endowed with all manner of strange supernatural powers, she lives in a St Louis where Federal law has made it legal for vampires and all manner of were-animals (leopards, tigers, lions and well as wolves) to co-exist with humans – as long as they don’t break the humans’ laws. Her powers make Anita an ideal candidate for policing the non-humans that share the city, and so she works as a US Marshal for the RPIT (regional preternatural investigative team). Effectively, she is a legalised vampire hunter (and executioner when the need arises). In Kiss The Dead, Anita is hunting down a group of vampires that have kidnapped a teenage girl and are willing to turn her into a vampire against her will – something that is most definitely illegal, and earns an instant execution order for any vampire involved – and finds a host of young masterless vampires who are willing to die for their idea of freedom. And that is even before her complex and unconventional love life starts getting in the way…
Kiss The Dead is the 21st book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, a series with a big following that first came into print in 1993 (apparently there are now over 6 million copies in print in 16 languages worldwide, plus a new film in the pipeline). I am a little late to the party given this is the first Anita Blake book that I have tried – or even heard of admittedly. I was a bit concerned that my not having read the first 20 books of the series would make this one unintelligible, but I needn’t have worried; while there was clearly a lot of detailed back-story behind Anita’s hunt for the rogue vampires that I didn’t have, the author provided sufficient explanation for the main plot line, setting and situations to be clear enough to a new reader of her books.
The book had a certain appeal for the part of me that enjoyed Buffy and Angel back in the day – indeed, it read that an 18 certificate version of these shows crossed with your choice of gritty American cop show. Why 18 certificate? Well, partly because there is a degree of violence involved in killing vampires, partly because of the explicit sex scenes this book contains (the publisher even describe it as a mix between fantasy, mystery and erotica, which I thought was a weird description until I actually read Kiss The Dead). For me, Anita’s tendency to hump everything that moves (“lover” seemed to be the most commonly used word in the book) was a slightly exasperating interference into what was otherwise an enjoyably fast-paced and thrilling mystery story, so I tended to skip these scenes in favour of getting to the real meat of the plot. Perhaps they have more significance to long term fans of the series, but I personally could have done without them.
If you are a fan of mystery and fantasy books, you could well enjoy the Anita Blake series – although you are probably better served by starting at the beginning rather than at this late stage!
Cautiously recommended to adult readers.
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