The ninth and first hardcover installment in the bestselling paperback series Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. At a slightly future date when the FBI and other police organizations admit the existence of vampires, witches, zombies, etc., Anita Blake’s job is to kill monsters—though she considers herself one as well. Anita has been a vampire’s lover, a werewolf’s mate, a zombie queen, and for the past year has been learning ritual magic and methods for animating the dead. Meanwhile, the humorless Anita is quite analytic and tiresomely long-winded; one reads on and on waiting for her to shut up and for something to happen. Finally, Anita is called to Santa Fe by her old monster buddy, Edward, who works under the name “Ted Forrester” as a bounty hunter licensed to kill varmints such as lycanthropes (a legal activity in rancher-run states like New Mexico). Edward is hundreds of years old but as “Ted” is engaged to marry late-thirtyish Donna Parnell, mother of two. Anita is stunned and angry about what she sees as a breach in the monster code, though she too lusts to have an affair with a normal human. Edward/Ted needs Anita’s help on a tough case. He takes her to a hospital where several victims lie flayed but still alive; a serial mutilator has expertly stripped them of their skin and eyelids, leaving no knife marks, then brutally ripped off their noses, penises, testicles, and breasts. How have these meat-naked bodies resisted infection? Who could do such a dastardly thing? The answers, which do not come quickly, bring forward lots of monsters, including a blue-eyed, blond werejaguar who can slip out of his skin and whose wounds heal as fast as a vampire’s. The story takes a long time to get going, but once it does Hamilton sets a good pace and weaves a nifty tapestry of glowy-eyed monsters against a background of blood.