Reviewed: April 2, 2004
By: Laurel K. Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley Books
272 pages, $9.99
Blake lives in an entirely different world, a parallel Earth where the undead
have civil rights and voting privileges and certain types of magic are taken
for granted. Blake, for instance, is an animator by trade and talent. She can
raise zombies from the recently dead, a talent which comes in handy when helping
the St. Louis police investigate murders, or if you have doubts as to what
the deceased really meant in her will.
She is also a vampire
slayer, known to the undead as the Executioner. Blake is a sort of combination
Kinsey Millhone and Spenser, and has that first person narrative voice. If
you thought “Buffy” after you read “slayer”, you can forget that. Hamilton
started this series well before Buffy Anne Summers got Chosen for her role
in life. Guilty Pleasures is the first in the series, and appeared in
Guilty Pleasures is also the name of a vampire run
night club which is the starting point for the action in this novel. It’s a
place where willing humans indulge themselves in play with the undead, and
where some get more than they bargained for.
Blake is recruited
by the upper echelon of the vampire community because someone is killing vampires.
In spite of wanting her to do this job, the leader, an evil little girl over
1,000 years old, seems barely able to restrain herself from terrorizing Anita,
and certainly doesn’t make it easy for her. We’re supposed to be disturbed
by vampire culture and even moreso by the humans who chose to participate in
it. I could easily see this series developing into something I would find repulsive,
but this first novel has an effective little mystery, lots of intriguing backstory,
and an interesting cast of characters. I found it compelling and finished it
off in a couple of evenings over a weekend.