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Reviewed by Pauline Morgan
There are times when writing a review is like preaching to the converted. That is especially true with a long running series such as this. This is the twenty first book featuring Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter.
Unlike some series (particularly contemporary crime) reading these books in random order is not a good idea. Anita as a character has developed and to understand her situation, it is important to know how she reached this point in her life and career.
There are a number of series in which vampires have come out of the woodwork and now have rights enshrined in law. However, as with any group of citizens, there are always some who step over the line. Vampires who do so are punished with real death. Anita is the Executioner. She is good at her job. She is also a highly sexual person. During the series she has acquired a number of lovers, including vampires. The men she shares her home with, though, are were-animals, mostly feline.
The initial focus of Kiss the Dead is her job as aUS Marshal. A kiss, or nest of vampires, has abducted an underage girl in order to make her one of their own. This is illegal on two counts. Minors may not be turned and certainly not against their will. The information about the building where the vampires are holding her is a trap for Anita but because she doesn’t go, two cops die and it becomes her mess to sort out. Most vampires are tied to a Master of the City by blood and oath. This helps control their behavior and prevent random attacks on the humans they live amongst.
These vampires, however, have been told by their maker that they can live free owing allegiance to no-one. As a result they are out of control and with two cops dead, there is now an execution warrant on them. There is no appeal. Anita and her police team have the job of hunting them down. She and the others are in real danger during the hunt.
At the same time, she is trying to cope with an increasingly complex personal life. When Cynric accidentally joined her coterie he was still regarded as a minor in some States. (The age of consent varies from state to state and sleeping with a minor, however willing they are is regarded as statutory rape). There is also jealousy in the vampire camp which sparks tensions between all her friends. All of them, it seems, want a piece of Anita.
Although much of this volume goes back to Anita’s role as a vampire hunter, those who have come to expect a sex romp will not be disappointed but they will have to wait. Unlike some volumes in the series, the explicit sex is not the beginning.
Readers who have not read any of this series before are advised to start with the first volume Guilty Pleasures. Kiss the Dead begins as an action thriller with vampires and were-creatures and heads into the erotic later on with enough angst to keep the characters developing. Fans will like it.