Word has leaked to Anita Blake that hit men are headed for St. Louis and that she, Jean-Claude, and Richard are the targets.
A serial killer is hunting the Pacific Northwest, murdering victims in a gruesome and spectacular way. The local police suspect monsters are involved, and have called in Anita Blake and Edward, U.S. Marshals who really know their monsters, to catch the killer. But some monsters are very real. The Harlequin have been the bogeyman of the vampire world for more than a thousand years; they are a secret so dark that even to speak their name can earn you a death sentence. Now they are here in America, hunting weretigers and human police.
The Harlequin serves the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire. She was supposed to be dead, but only her body was destroyed. Now she needs a new one, and shes decided that Anita Blakes is the body she wants. Edward thinks the serial killings are a trap to lure Anita closer to the most dangerous vampire theyve ever hunted. The vampires call Edward Death and Anita Executioner, but Mommy Darkest is coming to kill one and possess the other, and she doesnt care how many others have to die along the way.
As punchy as her first foray, Anita Blake's 20th adventure (after 2010's Bullet) finds the intrepid vampire hunter far from her familiar St. Louis environs. Someone is slaughtering weretigers just outside of Tacoma. When Anita recognizes the handiwork of the Harlequin, ninja-like paranormal assassins, she suspects they're in the employ of the Mother of All Darkness, the legendary vampire queen who wants to reincarnate herself in Anita's body and take advantage of her mingled vampire and lycanthrope bloodlines. Complicating matters are a marshal who detests Anita for no apparent reason and a psychopathic deputy who wants to kill her. The action occasionally bogs down in the sexual trysts Anita indulges in to stoke her supernatural abilities, but for the most part, Hamilton goes back to basics and delivers a sleek, hard-boiled page-turner. (June)