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Blood Noir (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 16) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by Harriet Klausner
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425222195
Date: 27 May 2008 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Anita Blake is many things: a vampire executioner; a living vampire who feeds off of sex; a succubus; a necromancer; and a very good friend. When her werewolf buddy Jason visits her, she senses he is in trouble. His dying father refused to let Jason's mother call him. The two men are estranged not because Jason is a lycan, but because his dad believes Jason is a homosexual, which he is not.

Jason asks Anita to go out of state with him to visit his father in the hospital. They would pose as a couple and try to convince the dying man that his son is heterosexual. Having the time to take off, she agrees. When they land at their destination, they learn that Keith Summerland is getting married in the coming weekend with all sorts of wedding activities planned. Fooling around the hotel garage, Jason kisses Anita in front of a reporter. Jason is Jean-Claude's pomme de sange while she is his human servant. That causes a scandal, and other masters of the city might try to grab Jean-Claude's territory. To prevent this Jean-Claude will have to display anger in public and punish his errant servants.

While in the hotel room, Marmee Noir, the Mother of all darkness and the first vampire, who has been sleeping for a millennium, stirs in her sleep and is attracted to Anita's powers. Marmee Noir strikes at Anita and makes her have sex with two shapeshifters including a were-tiger. The ardeur has gone berserk, not acting as it should. Anita feels another metaphysical tiger in her body. Other odd things occur, but Jason and Anita still worry about an enraged vampire because Keith married the wife of the Master of the City, and he wants the interloper dead. The authorities fear for Jason's and Anita's lives because Jase looks like Keith's identical twin. Keith's bodyguards fear the cuckolded vamp will mistake them for Keith and his daughter. They need guards but Anita has to deal with Marmee Noir without the help of Jean-Claude because their metaphysical connection has been cut and the guards can't witness what she does to fix what Marmee Noir did.

Blood Noir is very different from the previous book in the Anita Blake saga as it is lighter in tone, and except for a brief scene with Nathaniel and Richard, the plot focuses totally on the heroine and Jason instead of the star and her coterie of men. This enables Anita to relate much closer to a male she is not in love with. Readers will admire her loyalty to Jason. Although much of the plot revolves around Keith's problems, he never makes an actual appearance, yet readers feel they know him.

There are many questions left unanswered, including how Marmee Noir got inside Anita, who wears a charm to prevent this from happening; what it is about Anita that interests her; and the effects on Anita of what Marmee Noir has done to her. Even with key unanswered questions, Anita changes and grows throughout the tale, and the audience learns about the were-tiger culture and how Anita is linked to them. She accepts the fact that she can have sex without love and not feel guilty; her experiences make her kinder and gentler, but even more lethal than before.

Blood Noir is shorter than the rest of the books in the series at 350 pages, but the plots seem tighter and more intense as Laurell K. Hamilton avoided even the slightest padding. In spite of leaving key elements dangling, Ms. Hamilton has written a strong Blake thriller that provides her fans with deep insight into the preternatural community. Another book by Ms. Hamilton is going to the bestseller lists.

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