Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sucker Punch by Laurell K. Hamilton

A brutal murder, a suspect in jail, and an execution planned—but what if the wrong person is about to be killed?

When a fellow U.S. Marshal asks Anita Blake to fly to a tiny community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on an emergency consult, she knows time is running short. When she arrives, there is plenty of proof that a young wereleopard killed his uncle in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. As the mounting evidence points to him, a warrant of execution is already under way.

But something seems off about the murder, and Anita has been asked for her expert opinion on the crime scene. Despite escalating pressure from local cops and the family’s cries for justice for their dead patriarch, Anita quickly realizes that the evidence doesn’t quite add up.

Time is against Anita, as the tight-knit community is up in arms and its fear of supernaturals is growing. She races to uncover the truth and determine whether the Marshals have caught the killer or are about to execute an innocent man—all in the name of justice.

Book 27
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

No sex. Really. This is an Anita Blake book without any on page sex. It’s an out of town police procedural with an edited cast – and it’s really rather good.

As much as I do enjoy a good supernatural orgy, I also love Anita’s growth in her role as a US Marshal. This book is more of a conventional murder mystery than anything I can remember previously in the series. Fans of the series will find the slightly Agatha Christie style investigation (including a mansion and a dysfunctional wealthy family full of suspects) fairly surreal. But I’d urge readers to give it a chance. I really enjoyed this.

I think the highlight of this book is the way it questions the ethics and morality of policing and the dangers of ‘othering’ communities to the point where the law considers a human life of more value than a supernatural life. I may be guilty of reading too much into this series from the start, but the questions Anita asks, the positions various law enforcement officers take, and the various perceptions of justice in this story seem terrifyingly poignant at a time when America is grappling with racism, the ‘othering’ of very human communities, and horrific police brutality. There aren’t easy answers here but there are some passages that really made me stop and think.

I always love the books which focus on Edward and Olaf and both are great here. And while we don’t get any on page sex – of course, there are lengthy discussions and several long internal monologues explaining all of Anita’s preferences, proclivities, and emotions. And while some of this is repetitive and tiresome, by book 27 readers either love Anita or they’ve given up on the series. Personally, I love the many twists and turns this series has taken and I've come to terms with my slightly unhealthy but completely unconditional love for Anita.

5 Olaf Stars. Seriously, just give Olaf all the stars.

Olaf "Otto" Jefferies, the ultimate scene-stealer.

Sucker Punch is the 27th installment in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Can it be read as a standalone? No. Can it be read out of series order? Also no. Do you have to read the 26 installments prior? No. But I'd suggest you better have read around the first 20 or so.

Okay, so readers only want to know two things.

Is Sucker Punch an LKH erotic orgy of a sex-fest or a police-procedural? I'd add vampy politics to the list, but that generally goes hand in hand with the sex-fest.

Police procedural. Full stop. Angsty overthinking and too many in-depth conversations (but that is classic LKH). There was zero sex, not even metaphorical sex. You read that right. No sex. None. Nada. Just kissing. Mostly chaste kissing.

Are you feeling Sucker Punched by that? I know I was.

Does Edward "Ted" Forrester, aka Death, show up on scene?

Oh, yes! Mr. Mentor was there, more in the background. But his comforting, reassuring, mentoring, logical presence was a cool wash of sanity. Fingers crossed we see his family in the next installment. I want to see how Peter is growing up.

I won't go into detail over the plot, simply because it's a whodunit. A leopard is caught up in the murder of his uncle-pseudo father figure, and Anita and company try to discover the truth of who killed the billionaire patriarch, refusing to be used as the weapon employed by the true murderer to execute the person they framed, the person in their way to inherit billions.

Tons of back-and-forth cop posturing, which can become tedious. But it was so classic LKH that I loved every second of redundancy.

Now... onto the shock, probably the sucker punch, if you will, but I assume that twist at the end is the true sucker punch.


Olaf and Anita.

Olaf behaving.

Olaf the lion to Anita's lioness.

I've never experienced such a chaste Cat vs Cat hunt before, with Anita the prey to Olaf's predator. The sexual tension was off the charts, not smoldering but slow-burn that ignites. I want more. Gimme more, Laurell K. Hamilton. Please, give us more.

Never thought LKH was hilarious, but I've spent hours chuckling in discomfort and second-hand embarrassment blushing, in a shocked combination of "Holy Hell, what am I reading?" and "How the Hell does Anita have such chemistry with Olaf, reminiscent of the first few books where she battled Jean Claude's creepy affections?"

What I didn't enjoy, other than the predicable mystery sleuthing (but it was fun in a frustrating sort of way) is that we didn't need Nicky to bring Ethan, Angel, and the others. Death, War, Plague and others were on the case, there was no need, not even metaphorically. Their intrusion was unnecessary, and it was more than a speedbump, more like a roadblock. It tore me from the story, took away most of the "What am I reading? excitement and just made it chaotic, with too many characters on scene, none of it necessary, muddying up the entertainment I was experiencing. I like Nicky, that's isn't it. It just wasn't needed and changed the pacing and the flow of the story.

(Hands Olaf a couple more stars) I'm a sucker for a sociopath, especially since I'm his victim profile. Snort.

Highly recommended to Anita Blake fans, especially those who enjoyed the first ten novels in the series before Anita picked up the need to feed metaphorically through sex.

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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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Sucker Punch (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #27) by Laurell K. Hamilton to read and review.

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