Affliction (Anita Blake)
by Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by Harriet Klausner
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425255704
Date: 02 July 2013 List Price $28.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mary, the daytime receptionist at Animators Inc. informs Anita Blake that a woman claiming to be her mother-in-law, Beatrice Morgan, is on the line. Anita is not married nor engaged; and knows no one named Mike Morgan, but once identities are cleared up she goes on the phone to talk to the frantic mother of Micah Callahan, her lover and the head of the Coalition for Better Understanding Between Humans and Shapeshifters. Beatrice explains that her son said nasty things before he walked out on his family when he changed into a were-leopard, so she chose to speak with his fiancée. She further says that deputy Sheriff Al Truman said a zombie attacked and bit Micah's dad, Sheriff Rush Callahan; who now lies in a hospital rotting away while cognizant of what is happening from the zombie disease that has never been anywhere before but on the east coast.
Anita tells a stunned Micah who has only days to make peace with his dad. She and their other lover were-leopard Nathaniel accompany Micah home. Concerned about his three followers heading into another Master Vampire's turf, Jean-Claude, the Master Vampire of St. Louis, provides guards to protect the trio from rogues testing their power or his as they each belong to him. Using Jean-Claude's private plane, the trio travel to Denver where Micah's family assume he is engaged to Anita, but mostly ignore Nathaniel.
Besides a vicious predator targeting Micah and associates, the team must wade through family and vampire politics. Putting on her Preternatural Unit U.S. Marshal Vampire Executioner hat, Anita Blake must deal with a new breed of werewolf who is intelligent, agile, speedy and powerful while teaming up in pursuit of human flesh; this group leaves victims to suffer for days with the incurable Zombie Disease.
The latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (see Bullet and Kiss the Dead) is an exciting urban fantasy in which sex takes a back seat to the Zombie plague and the Callahan family affair. Early on the complex triple helix relationship between the lead trio and Jean-Claude showed the passionate caring side of each of them as they need to be there for Micah who needs to say goodbye to his dad. In Colorado, the zombies are terrific as they are a real threat to the weres, the Callahan clan, and even the Vampire Executioner; they bring exuberance and exhilarating action even while rotting anything they bite as they pose a viable challenge to Anita and her allies.
Even with Rush dying from a horrible disease, the Callahan family brings some humor to the mix as the extended clan, including those who know the truth about Micah's relationships, assumes Anita is the prodigal son's fiancée and ignore Nathaniel except for cold politeness. Micah's backstory adds depth to an exhilarating entry as this strong saga reaches the platinum anniversary since Guilty Pleasures brought Blake into the troposphere of the elite urban fantasy pantheon.