Books to the Sky

Recap: The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton (pt. 1 of 2)

Posted on: July 14, 2009

OMG! Back! With the first book of the series I have not yet read prior to recapping!

We open book five of the indomitable Anita Blake series to see a couple corpses and a live dude sitting around in Anita’s office. One of the corpses is the always frothy, seximous JC, and another is a guy named Sabin, who finds it offensive to sit when ladies are sitting. The live one is Dominic, whose presence Anita felt “like a psychic wind tripping down my spine.” Ah, we’re off to a great start. That’s one clumsy wind.

During some Trademark Random Anita Hostility, readers who may have forgotten just what the deal is with this series is quickly caught up – JC called Anita ‘ma petite’ at every turn, Anita hates him as she lusts after him, they have some weird magical bond, and JC blackmailed Anita into dating him. Oh yes, and any vampire who comes into contact with Anita is contractually required to find her witticisms hilarious. This time, it’s her use of the phrase “cold turkey” to describe Sabin’s attempt to wean himself off human blood. Sabin finds this the funniest thing since, but his laughter has an unfortunate tendency to “ride the air like broken glass” as it “ate over [Anita] like small cutting blades.” But it’s not hyperbole; she reaches up to find blood on her face. Ouch!

Sabin’s the one slicing-and-dicing, but he’s whining that the ravages of true love, in the form of an all animal diet, have drained his powers. I’d hate to see this guy at full tilt. He pulls back the dramatic black hood he was wearing to reveal a half-seximous, half-rotted face. Gasp! No really, Anita gasps. Sabin – who shall henceforth be known as IckFace – wants her to cure him; after all, word of her amazing seximousity has reached Europe! She acts all surprised, amid ‘ma petites’ from JC.

Dominic is here, as IckFace’s human servant we soon learn, to suggest that he and Anita team up to brew poor Ickface a spell to make him 100% seximous once more. It’s suggested that he may be more powerful *gasp!* than Anita, which makes me worry for his fate in this book. Her ability to act as a focus is a rare talent, of course, but he has the same ability! He also wants to act as a teacher, to make her into the Best Wizardess Evar, and when she responds to his question that no, she’s not afraid of him stealing her power, he tells her that she’s “wise beyond [her] years.” Are you new here, Dominic the Wizard??

Two more ‘ma petites’ as Ickface and co. leave, so’s Anita can have Date Night with a Werewolf. Somehow, in the few pages since she had a gun pulled on him, Anita has developed some squishy sort of sympathy for Ickface – apparently to match his squishy sort of face – and they leave on shockingly good terms. Somewhat confusingly, the woman who convinced IckFace to go off human blood has not left him, nor is she with him. But… what’s door number three? Anita asks whether it was worth it, and Ickface replies that no ho is worth an ickface.

After they leave, JC and Anita chat about vampire politics; there’s a truce among the master pires while that one law I vaguely remember is being tossed around DC. Eight ‘ma petites’ on the next two pages, wow, as Anita assures us there’s “something terribly masculine about JC, no matter how much lace he wore,” and I make a Skepticalface. He tries to seduce her by staring creepily, but ultimately Self-Control Queen wins out. They argue about how much Anita really wants JC dead, and whether Anita would be capable of having a normal life even without JC’s frothy interference. One more ‘ma petite’ as JC sweeps away after informing Anita that not even for her would he go Ickface. Glad to know you have some dignity, man. The lace was making us all wonder.

Chapter two (good lord, all that for one chapter?) opens at Catherine’s dinner party and a description of Anita’s clothes, monochromatic and full of so much velvet and lace that I have to wonder if she’s been nicking from JC’s closet. She’s chatting with Robby the Vampire, who is so seximous it’s redundant, and some preggers lady named Monica, who turns out to be his girlfriend. Apparently I’m supposed to remember Monica as having betrayed Anita to a master vampire, but I seem to have stopped caring. Less talking, more shooting!

Hold up. Monica’s his girlfriend and is preggers by him?? What sort of vampires are these, aside from ridiculously seximous? Okay, apparently it’s a matter of very frequent sex and very elevated body temperatures (of the vampire), but it can result in some horrible birth defect called, appropriately enough, Vlad syndrome. Anita refers to it and then feels shitty when Monica gets sad. But just then, Richie walks in, and so magnetic is he that Anita just feels his presence before she sees him. Oh my God, he’s wearing a brown suit, a “deep orangey gold” shirt, and a bright orange tie with cartoons running down the center. She waxes on about how gorgeous he is for even longer than she’s waxed on about clothes so far, and it’s a little agonizing. Yes, we know you’re incredibly sexually frustrated at this point. Get yourself a Hitachi Magic Wand and spare us. She wants to “see what was under that suit.” Oh Anita, is your grasp of human male anatomy that weak?? It’s a chest. There are probably nipples, though not as steelicious as JC’s.

Monica decides to needle Anita about her necklace, and… okay, I’m just going to skip this for you. It’s incredibly petty but not actually interesting. Monica wants to stir up trouble by mentioning JC, and then Catherine steals Anita away for a girly chat. Woah, they’ve been dating for seven months, and Cathy’s asking where the engagement ring is?? Is she confusing months and years? Anyway, Catherine’s husband is some schmuck who worships her, which I dunno, should I care about?

Gossip, gossip. Oh, but fortunately it’s interrupted by a phone call on business… it’s Eddie The Empty-Eyed Wonder! I love him! He’s calling to tell her that he just got offered a well-paying contract on her life, but instead he’d rather guard her and thereby get to kill more people. I’m amused that Eddie was able to track her down and call her friend’s number but doesn’t know that she’s dating JC or that she’s with Richie tonight. So lazy! Anyway, Anita can’t bring herself to care. Knowing that this series is ongoing, I have to agree.

Anita tells Richie about the assassin-to-be, and he’s shocked that she’s so indifferent. If only he’d seen the profits from the last book! Oh my God, now Richie’s saying that it’s hard to date her because she might be braver than he is. But she’s down with that, and they make out. They drive off in Richie’s Mustang (also orange). Also, apparently Anita has a rule that she’s not allowed to say anything sexy until she’s willing to have sex with him. Is it just me, or has this novel regressed like thirty years in the last two pages? Then they make out while he’s driving, but he ruins it by going on about marriage and making everybody sad. She angsts to herself that she can’t do it because it would ruin his chance of a normal life. WTF? He’s already a werewolf, Anita. Pretty sure he lost that chance years back.

Then she angsts that, if she were so brave, she’d let him go. But Anita, if you’re not holding him there by force or trickery (or major guilt trips), he actually can go! He does have agency! Fortunately, the angst-fest is broken up by their arrival at Anita’s apartament, where they help an old lady carry a TV upstairs. Nice-nice-nice. Old lady’s dog acts funny, and Anita opens her door verrrrry carefully, only to barely dodge shotgun shells. Oh noes! Anita shoots back, hits her target, and finds him the shooter dead inside. She dissolves into hysterical laughter as she calls up Cop Friend Dolph.

Chapter four opens at the interrogation chamber, with Anita, Dolph, Catherine (because she’s a lawyer) and our new friend Sergeant Branswell, whose name is English, complexion is Mediterranean, and accent is Missouri. He doesn’t buy her story that a dude just starting shooting at her as she was going in to get a screwdriver and that she was able to shoot him dead without getting shot dead. Catherine objects to all this questioning, and BranMuffin reveals that the shooter’s name was, I kid you note, Jimmy the Shotgun, local idiot assassin. BranMuffin eases up on her a little bit because of all the gosh darn good things the other cops say about her.

Back in the car, Richie is furious with her for going into the apt herself, suspecting there was a hitman there. ARE YOU NEW HERE?? Somehow, this turns into Anita admitting that Richie doesn’t “pull macho crap” (um) and that she was wrong. DTMFA! Maybe it’s “that growing hunger that perfumed the air whenever I was with him,” that has her all dazed. Ew. Anyway, they get to her place and she packs up the essentials, including clothes to wear out with JC tomorrow night, and a sword in a leather harness. I bet that’ll go along on the date, too. She says a touching goodbye to Old Lady Neighbor, and they’re off.

We’re then treated to a description of Richie’s house. Ranch, near trees. Inside: dog pictures, hunting pictures, cartoon kitsch, light-colored paint, entertainment center, ugly couch, coffee table. Richie leaves to take off his tie (thank God), returns and Anita waxes poetic about the glints in his hair. She calls Eddie, who calls back a few minutes later to report that the contract was upped to half a million, and then Eddie apologizes her for telling her to be careful. WTF, people? He’s going to stop by tomorrow. Then they get a message from Stephen – one of the weres – saying that Raina wants him to make “one of those movies.” Oh noes! Action time! Anita insists on coming with him to defend Stephen’s honor, and away they go.

During the drive, we learn more wolfy terms: lupa and Ulfric. Then it gets into complicated pack/not pack, dominant/not dominant stuff and I tune out. More wolfy jargon, more tuning-out. This is some serious info dump. Blah blah, Richie is impressed that Anita knows who Fenrir is in Norse mythology. But does she know who he is in Harry Potter?? Anyway, the important part of this is that the Wolf King has to mate with the alpha female (interestingly enough, the former can be a woman).

They turn into a farmhouse to find a porn set in the barn. A seximous were named Heidi greets them, but Richie subdues her. Another seximous were named Sebastian, who looks remarkably like a skinhead from the description, joins them and is revealed to be Richie’s wolf-rival Marcus’s new enforcer. Good heavens. They go through the most stilted challenge to a duel I’ve ever read, and we learn that Raina has decreed that Anita shall not become a were. Richie does something mystical with his hands and mystical energy boiling about the room, and then we meet another were! This time it’s Jamil. Now this is confusing. He tells Richie that Marcus will win because Richie’s a bleeding heart, and that they’re not the Young Republicans. A wuh?

Sebastian and Jamil combine their power in some vaguely homoerotic way, involving tiny electric shocks biting along Anita’s skin. The menacing contest is interrupted by a scream, and Anita sprints off to save Stephen while Richie continues to glare at SebMil. She bursts in to find him nude and bloody, pinned by Gabriel in a loincloth as a blond guy who looks exactly like Stephen slices him up. And who should be there, giving poor Stephen a blow job, but a naked Raina! As Anita is ogling, a were in wolf form knocks her over, but Raina holds it back because Anita is not to be wounded. WTF?. Raina and Gabriel find this all very sexy and exciting, especially the part where Anita threatens to shoot them.

Raina seems pretty indifferent to Anita’s intrusion and doesn’t say much she gathers Stephen to go. Raina is all shocked that Anita really would just blow them away. Really? What has she been reading, Regency romances? Anita and Stephen stagger back out to find the main room in chaos, which freezes when she shoots up the joint. One of the weres points out that Richie wouldn’t kill them if they bring Stephen back for Round 2, but Anita replies that she would. Raina walks in just then, still nakee, and warns Anita that she’s just challenged her, and of course she can’t let this slide.

Grammar nerds, please analyze the last sentence for me: “Stephen will never rise in the pack. There is no more challenge to him. He is anyone’s meat that is higher in the pack.” Is it just me, or is that last sentence really awkward?? There’s some jawing about Stephen being under Richie’s/Anita’s protection, but they leave before it can get too exposition-y. Anita is smug that she was right about it being a trap, and Richie is too tired to care. Anita tells him that he’s not getting anywhere with his pacifist (well, for these books) ways, and Richie replies that things can always change. Suuuuure.

They start arguing about… oh, all this business… and it’s paragraph after paragraph of the same old “Richie doesn’t like that Anita is so down with killing.” She angsts that it bothers her that killing doesn’t bother her, as if this hasn’t been a recurring theme throughout all the books so far. Richie’s bitchy to her when they get back to Richie’s place, and soon after she falls asleep, Stephen comes into the guest room to chat. He’s shaky from being assaulted by Raina and wants to sleep with Anita – which Richie totally okayed – because Richie’s out prowling.

Anita wakes up and realizes that this is the first time she’s actually slept with a man. She wishes it were Richie (ha ha, ‘were’). She hears someone behind the door, and someone hears her flicking the safety. It’s Jason! He’s blond and blue-eyed just like Stephen, how funny. Jason finds her irritable threats sexy. As they’re chatting, a woman exits Richie’s room, carrying towels. Another were! When Anita remarks that her power is remarkable, she responds that coming from Anita, that’s quite a compliment. Vomit! She’s a doctor, apparently, tending Richie in the kitchen. Oh, apparently we’ve met Dr. L before. Richie snipes at Anita, and they start up their fight again. Dr. L approves of Anita’s bloodthirsty ways, and then when Anita gets awkward about her taking off Richie’s jeans to tend a wound, reveals that she’s lez. Really, it’s not enough that she’s a doctor?

The fight continues, with Dr. L. on Anita’s side. Ugh, they’re still fighting, and there’s some meeting with Marcus tonight. Dr. L cools off, though, and says that she’d rather Richie found a were mate. Jason skedaddles, and the company moves to his bedroom, where Richie’s lolling nude on the bed. Anita is embarrassed that she finds him hot. Dr. L. leaves, and Anita tells him to put on clothes because he’s too hot to argue with like that. Ewww, Richie can smell that she wants him. Seriously, if you let out some of your sexual frustration, Anita, you’d be able to look at your nakee boyfriend. The fight continues, amidst tears and nudity, and Richie reveals that he doesn’t kill because he loves it so much! He gets, um, physically excited talking about it.

He partway weres out on her, and she touches his weird were arm, and they make out. He gets to first base, but there weres waiting outside can totally hear and smell them (ew). But Richie says that they shouldn’t go further until she’s seen him were out all the way. He leaves the bedroom, and she angsts about how sad she’ll be to lose him when he inevitably dies. She emerges from the room, finally dressed, to meet Rafeal the Were Rat, who we’ve met before. He reveals that Marcus wants to unite all the weres under his tyrannical banner, and Rafe’s throwing his lot in with Richie the Pacifist. There’s a were tiger hanging out too, whose name I forgot the last time I saw it and will doubtless forget again.

Richie doesn’t want to give up on Marcus, but everyone else does. Richie’s friend Louie appears, and Anita informs us that he has black eyes, not just really dark brown ones. Fascinating. Anita asks why everyone looks so down, and it’s because JC is supporting Richie these days. Shouldn’t that be a cause for celebration? I’m pretty sure these two were heading toward major violence anyway. Staggering bloodshed, spillover into the normal world, bounty hunters, etc.

One of the random weres gets offended that Anita’s not sitting, and she activates her Random Hostility Ray in response. Random were starts frothing at the mouth because Richie’s shared some of their words, and it occurs to me to wonder if they’re actually going to get something done or just bitch at each other for the next chapter or two. She sits down amid much internal debate, and the bitchfest continues, this time concerning her rescue of Stephen.

One of the weres suddenly leaps on Anita, and she starts working some serious mojo. I think she’s threatening to turn Anita into a were when she says she’s “going to make [Anita] his mate,” referring to Richie. Anita starts going all psychoanalytic on her, which seems to succeed in scaring her off. Richie starts flinging power all over the place, and then Rafe vows that he’ll kill anyone who goes after Anita. A-wuh? Various Significant Expressions keep passing over people’s faces, but nothing really happens. Then Richie says he’d kill for Anita, and then he looks very sad. He declares her his lupa, but some of the weres protest and one of them challenges her.

The doorbell rings, and as Anita goes to answer it, Difficult Were lunges at her. Finally, fisticuffs ensue! Difficult Were falls through a window, which would seem to satisfy the first blood rule of the game. Eddie looks in curiously as the weres submit to her. We’re reminded that Eddie is a WASP on the short side, which I’m sure I’ll forget just as I did last time I read his physical description. Everyone else sort of drifts off with his arrival, and as Anita and Eddie discuss the hit on her life like reasonable adults, Richie wrings his hands and wonders why they aren’t freaking out.

Richie wants to angst on about killing, but Eddie isn’t having it. He already knows about Anita’s date with JC and says “it wasn’t hard to find out,” which is funny considering that he didn’t know they were dating at all until Anita told him. When pressed, Richie admits that he’s not sure he could kill a human to protect Anita. Eddie predicts that the assassin will strike after the date, and he endears himself a little more to me with his comment, “Everyone’s cannon fodder eventually.” Oh Eddie! Richie offers to send some weres along to the club where JC’s taking Anita (his club, I believe).

Eddie’s eyes have been referred to as empty about half a dozen times since his introduction. This sounds like a good reason to drink during non-JC chapters! Then it’s time for Anita to dress and to hide weapons on her person. She changes into a little black dress as Richie looks on sadly. Velvet jacket, black beading, black teddy underneath (gasp!). She ogles her scars as she straps on her knife sheaths. Richie starts moaning about how sexy she looks for JC, and then he says that he’ll shift all the way for her if she comes back tonight. Gee, what a draw that is. Richie says he’ll know if she’s been kissing JC because her lipstick will show up on his shirt, but who really has aim that poor??

She snaps a tiny gun of Eddie’s into her tiny purse and then ogles her hair in the mirror. Yes, it’s curly, good for you. Then exits the bedroom to find JC hanging out there, and he’s so hot in his black leather pants and red shirt that she just about comes to orgasm right there. Three ma petites! Another ma petite as Richie moans some more, and then they leave to look seximous in public.

Seven ma petites as they discuss the assassin, and he starts licking her until she eases up a little. Ten more ma petites as the exit the limo. It turns out that JC’s not a big fan of paparazzi, but he handles the reporters at the club like a pro as Anita just glares and whispers seximous threats of violence in his ear. His laughter flows down her skin like warm, ticklish, and vaguely obscene fur. Six more ma petites, and they finally enter the club. She realizes that she’s embarrassed that anyone would think she would really date JC, and JC knows this very well.

Vamp Liv at the door starts oozing hostility, to nobody’s surprise. Four more ma petites while Liv continues to berate JC’s choice of date. We then learn that JC is forgoing sex as long as Anita is, which is pretty awesome. He laughs along with Liv until he threatens to kill her. It suddenly occurs to Liv that maybe JC didn’t choose a complete ninny to hang out with, and finally they leave behind the random hostility to enjoy some serious vampire decadence. There are mannequins hanging from the ceiling, ew. Three more ma petites during the tour, and JC says that Liv got so worried at the idea of Anita as a necromancer because, as the name implies, necromancers theoretically can control any undead creatures. Gasp!

Four more ma petites before the end of the chapter. Anita’s horrified because she remembers that she has indeed raised a vampire, but JC has been actively spreading this rumor around in order to shore up his own power. As they’re chatting, a seximous redhead vampire shows up, with the fantastic vampire name Damian, who’s wearing a 16th century frock coat and green Spandex exercise pants with a black sash. So much ew. But Anita approves, and JC’s laughter at her her approval “tugged at things lower than he’d ever gotten to touch.” Get. Laid. Already. Plzkthx. One ma petite during a tense conversation with Damian wherein we learn that JC let him flee his master in exchange for wearing a stupid ass costume.

We then meet Cassandra, also wearing Spandex, this time paired with black vinyl boots. JC has the most random wardrobe ever. She and Anita bond over how hot Damian looks in his Spandex, and I just shudder. Another three four ma petites as the four of them as Cassie compliments Anita on her diplomacy, of all things. She’s one of Richie’s, sent to watch Anita. JC leaves the two of them to make friends. WereCass reveals that WereGabriel has the hots for Anita – huge shock there – and a fantasy of raping Anita whilst she tries to kill him.

During this intense moment, some dude we’re supposed to remember – Sabin – inter rupts, and Anita activates the Random Hostility Ray by drawing her gun on him. Oh! Is that the ugly face guy? Yes it is, the guy whose laugh sliced up Anita. WereCass refuses to shake his hand because he smells really bad, and in exchange he makes vague threats about taking her to his bed. Ew. He grosses all of us out for awhile, and then JC returns to tell him to knock that creepy shit off. IckFace hypothesizes that WereCass wouldn’t survive a night with him but that Anita would, which I guess it supposed to be another of those weird compliments. Finally, he wanders off and gathers WereCass for the upcoming show, leaving LivPire with Anita, which I’m sure will end happily.

LivPire gets on my good side by calling Anita a ‘strumpet.’ Awesome word, LivPire! They talk tactics for a sec, and then we get a lingering descriptions of the vampire employees in fishnets and Spandex hanging around the place. Then WilliePire shows up, yay, in hideous chartreuse. The show begins! Damian is hypnotizing some poor audience member, and as he starts disrobing her, Anita protests – one of her most reasonable moves so far this book. A spotlight shines down on her as she draws a gun on him. After a Moment, Anita draws the woman off the stage, with the help of WereCass and a woman in the audience.

OMG Raina shows up! She’s teamed up with JC for this club business, and she and Anita exchange threats over the heads of the poor normies peresent. Ooh, the audience member is a reporter, and before Anita can decide how much to leak, she steals Anita’s purse, draws a gun, and chaos breaks out. Yes! This is what I’ve been hoping for. Anita knifes the pseudo-porter as the cops bust into the place, and Eddie apologizes for letting Anita almost get killed.

Next chapter opens in JC’s office, where the cops have dragged Anita and failed to offer her coffee. The nerve! Anita wisely insists on having a lawyer present during any further proceedings, and then Dolph strolls in. The cop tending Anita pouts and exits the room, leaving Dolph to extract (most of) the truth from Anita about the hit on her life. She finally gets coffee and a little bit of my sympathy when she thinks angrily that, despite her dazzling career, she’s going to be Mrs. JC in the press after this incident. Anita, let’s blame the patriarchy!

Dolph succeeds in smuggling her out of the club, only to whisk her away to a murder scene in a ritzy little town. He asks her if she’s been the house before, and she replies in the negative. Hmm! She gets checked out by the male cops chilling around the house, and Dolph continues acting mysterious. There’s a blond dude pinned to the floor with his heart removed, gross, lying in a circle of bloody magic symbols. She ogles his naked chest and thinks that he looks vaguely familiar. It’s Robert, the vampire husband of bitchy preggers Monica! When she tries to cross the line, the magicks crawl over her skin like a million insects, and she falls back.

We then meet Lady Detective Reynolds, who doesn’t seem to be a friend of Dolph’s. When she offers Anita her hand, Anita jerks back because… more magic! Reynolds was trying to read Anita’s aura, and ooh, she’s a witch! Cool, but she apparently told Dolph that this might have been Anita’s work. Anita hypothesizes that the symbols are to prevent JC from knowing of Robert’s death – JC turned him vampire – and that the murder might be a challenge to JC’s power. Then she angsts about how she’s only seeing Robert as an extension of JC and theorizes that it might have been the work of a hate group, considering that he was fathering a human child.

Anita insists on calling JC, and after some bickering, Dolph agrees to have somebody to call him to tell him what happened. Ah, and then we get a lesson vampire reproduction: male vampires have sperm leftover from their final pre-death days which can impregnate women. Newly dead lady vamps can sometimes give birth, but usually not. There are records of older lady vamps giving birth, and the results were predictably horrifying. Good ol’ Vlad syndrome. Dolph and Anita bicker over how much she can tell JC, and then he coaxes the last knife off her. Ha. But considering the hit out on her, he generously lets her keep it after patting her down.

Dolph’s pissy that she’s dating JC, and he starts lecturing her. Seriously, it’s any of his business? Then good ol’ boy Zerbowski breaks up the weird scene, and Anita hugs him, relieved to see that he’s looking very much better than the last time she saw him, with his intestines hanging out. He sexually harasses her, and she’s heartwarmed. Lovely. The news about JC and Anita is everywhere, and Anita realizes with no little horror that her father’s going to find out on national news. Zerb has been interviewing neighbors, and one of them said that, while she doesn’t normally believe in abortion, the case of a half-pire baby is an exception. Charming people! Zerb is shocking nonjudgmental about her dating both Richie and JC and asks her over for dinner with his wife.

Back to the case, Anita guesses that several people were involved in the murder, at least one vampire, one not-vampire, and one witch or necromancer. She mentions Dominic, IckFace’s human servant, as a possible suspect. Downstairs, Monica arrives, and Anita steels herself for the inevitable.

Part Two to follow in a week or two, as long as the book doesn’t become overdue!


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