U.S. Marshal Anita Blake, of the Preternatural Branch, faces down a zombie horde, a curiously elusive and powerful vampire, and a flood of prejudice in this far-too-talky installment of a seminal urban fantasy series (Kiss the Dead, 2012, etc.).
The estranged father of Micah, Anita’s wereleopard lover, is dying from a mysterious attack that left him with a rotting disease. So, Anita, her other wereleopard lover, Nathaniel, and a host of lycanthropic guards and lovers travel to Boulder to visit Micah’s father, Rush, and determine the perpetrators of the attack. Her initial investigation is hampered by local law enforcement, many of whom object to her associations with shape-shifters and vampires as well as her busy love life. Hamilton/Anita make a valid point—it’s unfair that it’s more socially acceptable for a man to have many lovers than for a woman to do so; however, it seems unnecessary for the author to keep preaching to the choir that has followed Anita to Book 22. It’s also understandable that Anita would be so defensive, given just how hostile Hamilton writes her adversaries, but that hostility feels contrived, as if the author was playing a chess game against herself. Plus, so much time is spent explaining, justifying and angst-ing about Anita’s complex relationships that there’s barely any room left over for plot. We’re a third of the way into the book before there are any (admittedly excellent) action scenes and further still before there are any (steamy, but far too brief) sex scenes. There’s so much telling instead of showing that the book’s ultimately not much of an effective advertisement for polyamory.
The already converted may consider a sermon interleaved with brief slivers of story acceptable; others will be bored rather than outraged.