14. The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) by Laurell Hamilton. 308 p. Republished December 2003.
This is the second book in the “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” series, and opens pretty close to where we left Guilty Pleasures.
Anita and her boss are called out to the estate of Harold Gaynor, a mob-tied millionaire. He wants them to raise a 283 year old corpse. The catch is that the older a zombie, the greater the cost such an animation requires. And one this old only comes in one form – the occult term is the white (or hornless) goat, a euphemism for human sacrifice. And despite Gaynor’s offer of a million dollars, Anita turns him down. After all, she has better things to do, like prepare for one friend’s wedding and attend another’s funeral.
Because someone has killed an Animator. And even though they did it through relatively mundane means (i.e. a bullet to the head), the occurrence is rare enough to warrant special attention. What Anita fears is that it’s tied to a case she’s assisting the police with. Something, and Anita believes it to be a rampaging zombie, is breaking into homes and devouring the families, leaving scenes of such gruesome gore that even she has trouble keeping down her lunch.
Anita can only suspect one person of being involved with such a powerful zombie – Dominga Salvador, the most powerful voodoo witch in the area. But going against Salvador will put more on the line than Anita was willing, sacrificing a dear friendship and risking her own immortal soul.
Hamilton does a pretty decent job of keeping the pace consistent. There aren’t many boring moments in The Laughing Corpse, and all of those are necessary recap from book #1. Anita’s character maintains the spunk of Guilty Pleasures, but the surprising and amazingly suspenseful ending really pushes to see how things will change in book #3. Anita maintains her ongoing side story of entangled romance with Jean-Claude, the city’s Master Vampire. From what I’ve heard, this running plot takes a few more books to develop, but I can wait. All in all, this was a fun, and relatively quick, read. I actually preferred this sequel to Guilty Pleasures, since more time was, understandably, spent on the story than world development.
Rating: 4 out of 5