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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Guilty Pleasures

Reviewed: April 2, 2004
By: Laurel K. Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley Books
272 pages, $9.99


Anita 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 1994.

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.

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