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Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 18) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Photo: Jody Ake
Review by Drew Bittner
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425235676
Date: 02 February 2010 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Anita Blake finds herself in deep, when a prospective client doesn't get his way--and trouble comes knocking at her door. In Flirt, Laurell K. Hamilton's bestselling heroine learns something new about the power of love and what it can drive people to do.

Tony Bennington has a simple request: he wants his wife brought back. Problem is, even Anita cannot truly resurrect a corpse. She explains that her powers would only bring back a semblance of his wife, one that would fall to pieces in short order. He doesn't care but she can't give him what he wants.

Later, Anita is enjoying some down time with her boyfriends when they get into a discussion about relationships and how things can go well or not-so-well. It ends in a display of flirting that leaves a strong impression on the target of the flirtation, and impresses Anita with what charisma does to people. That's followed by a second client who has a truly horrifying reason for wanting her husband brought back, one that gives even Anita pause.

Trouble comes when two shapeshifters strong-arm Anita into doing what she's already refused to do--and if she refuses again, one or more of the men in her life will die. But why does this client want a dead loved one resurrected, really? Unless Anita can figure it out, and find a way to turn the tables, she and her boyfriends are going to be filling some graves of their own.

Flirt is a fun, fast-paced read, a "done in one" story that is far shorter than most of Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter tales; it is served well by that length, in that Hamilton is free to tell as much story as she wants and she delivers.

The plotline harkens back to the days when Anita was a zombie animator, first and foremost. Those stories got into the emotional context of what Hamilton's supernatural world was all about. In and among the workplace issues she dealt with, Anita saw people with all sorts of needs, from the grieving to the greedy, and she was able to make a difference without the stakes being world-class. The situation here is a bit more grave (no pun intended), being the safety of her boyfriends and her self, but the emotional context--and the mystery behind it--is classic Anita Blake.

Anita is resurgent in this novel, largely because she is forced to rely upon her own resources and out-think her enemies rather than overpower them. That's a situation she hasn't been in as much lately, making it new and unexpected for the readers. For a character as powerful (in so many different ways) as Anita, falling back on her wits is taking a chance--because you never know how that's going to work out.

Her cast of characters is mostly absent for the book, though Micah, Jason, and Nathaniel put in a strong, memorable appearance or two. It is more in the threat to their safety that they are part of the book, which brings out the protector in Anita like few things could. And the discussion in the restaurant is priceless.

Shapeshifters Jacob and Nicky represent an interesting challenge for Anita; they're both complementary to one of her own animals, so she struggles with the interest (and fear) of her caged animal, even while trying to escape their grasp. They're well-drawn and cool in their own way, even if one is a complete sociopath.

The ultimate outcome should be a pleasure for the reader. And for a writer who can (justifiably) claim to have created the urban fantasy genre, it's great to see Hamilton back in classic form.

Recommended.

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