As with the last Anita Blake book, there was some hope to be had in the opening pages. Edward calls and tells Anita that rogue Vampires are running amok in Ireland and that he needs her help. But instead of the next chapter starting with Edward driving Antia away from Dublin Airport, we spend the next few chapters watching Antia and two of her sex slaves looking for a good place to take a shower. Seriously.
Laurell K Hamilton doesn’t so much write novels anymore, as several hundred page long sermons on the poly lifestyle. One of the themes she warms to often is that sexual orientation is nothing more than sexual choice. All men can enjoy sex with other men if they just get over their homophobia, or in this case, get mind fucked by a Wereleopard. I’ve always believed that a good number of lesbians are gay by choice, but that men are born gay. Laurell likes to think we just haven’t met our perfect same sex partner yet. As proof of this, Anita and her posse are all fully pansexual and will fuck anything that moves.
Something she did a few books back was force Richard to have sex with Jean-Claude, thus turning one of the few truly macho characters into a pussy. She is clearly tempted to do something similar to Edward, as she pussifies Death by forcing him to chat about his feelings. On the other hand, she takes a character who could be a poster child for effeminate and passive homosexuals and forces him to be a tough guy who gets in a knife fight. Watching Nathaniel change from Liberace to Rambo is a bit jarring.
One of the problems with writing is falling in love with your characters and then having the divine ability to create more and more and more people to love. The cast of Anita Blake’s universe has grown far too large for a casual fan such as myself to keep straight. Literally dozens of people have walk on scenes in Crimson Death, I have a clear picture in my mind of three of them, Edward, Anita, and Jean-Claude, and I only know them from other books, not this one. Imagine a book set in Oz where Dorothy spends all her time hanging out with the Lollipop Guild and gets to be on a first name basis with everyone living in Munchkinville.
Asher has a brief walk on role and his scene is touching, but so much like every other scene with Asher in it as to be a bit-Really? Again? But then, the whole book has that kind of Really? Again? feeling to it. I guess after writing a zillion of these books, Laurell has ran out of anything new to say.
Things are better once she does met up with Edward, but Laurell still likes to do a bit too much explaining. About trust, about how to be a big bad cop, about why vampires are bad or not so bad, and about countless other things. Like other highly successful writers, Laurell K Hamilton could use a bit of quality time with a good Editor. Someone to tell her to cut this, and this, and that, and trim everything else. Crimson Death is at least two books crammed into one. This makes a lot of the book fly over country for me and I skim all the chapters that focus on Anita’s hyper complex love-life. The vampire hunter bits are still damned good, which pisses me off that I have to wade through all this team poly shit to get to it. Fine, Anita has found her perfect little kink world, who cares? I don’t need to know all about the sex lives of Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple or Perry Mason to enjoy their stories.
The ending is good, but feels rushed. The big bad is not so bad, as Anita herself says at one point. The actually Vampire Hunter stuff is good, there just isn’t enough of it.