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The Harlequin
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About the Author

Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family.

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Vampire executioner Anita Blake is back in her 15th appearance, still spending most of her time dealing with her lycanthropy as she tries to avoid shifting into any of at least four animals. Belle Morte, the oldest vampire and the queen of darkness, is even more interested in Anita and invades her dreams, soliciting her as a potential human servant. As if that weren't enough, the St. Louis "Kiss" has aroused the attention of the Harlequin, a group of vampire enforcers who work in secret to discipline and execute those who run afoul of the Vampire Council. Hamilton uses a stream-of-consciousness style that would have benefited from tightening, but there is more plot and character development than in the last several installments. About halfway through, she drops the vampire politics, sex, and shapeshifting problems to tackle the renegade Harlequins and their animal and human servants. A huge cast of characters, both new and those returning from earlier books, could be confusing for listeners new to the series. The production quality is good, and Cynthia Holloway is a first-rate reader. Note, however, that there is graphic sex and violence. Recommended only for libraries that collect erotica and have significant Hamilton fans.-Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

At the start of bestseller Hamilton's solid 15th adventure to star vampire hunter Anita Blake, Malcolm, the priggish head of the Church of the Eternal Life (the vampire church), is so desperate for help in dealing with the Harlequin, a troop of vampire enforcers and spies so feared vampires are forbidden to speak its name, he turns to those he considers sinful and corrupt-Anita and her sweetie, Jean-Claude, St. Louis's Master of the City. The Harlequin may have targeted Anita and the powerful triumvirate she has forged with Jean-Claude and Richard Zeeman (aka Ulfric of the werewolves). According to the rules, the Harlequin must make contact through delivery of a mask-white to indicate they are watching, red for pain, black for death. Anita receives a white mask, but the members of the Harlequin aren't playing by the rules. Shorter and more tightly structured than the previous entry in the series, Danse Macabre (2006), Hamilton's latest should prove more satisfying to longtime fans with its straightforward supernatural politics and steamy (but not extreme) sex. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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