Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gods and Grisly Murders

New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton offers a sexy, suspenseful new novel of human -- and inhuman -- passions, narrated by the vampire hunter known as Anita Blake. There are a lot of monsters in Anita Blake's life. And some of them are human. One such individual is the man she calls Edward, a bounty hunter who specializes in the preternatural. He calls her to help him hunt down the greatest evil she has ever encountered. Something that kills and maims and vanishes into the night. Something Anita will have to face alone...

'Edward was a hit man. He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shape-shifters, anything and everything. There were people like me who did it legal, but Edward didn't sweat the legalities or, hell, the ethics. He was an equal opportunity killer. I may be one of the few friends that Edward has, but it's like being friends with a tame leopard. It may curl on the foot of your bed and let you pet its head, but it can still eat your throat out...'"

Title: Obsidian Butterfly
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 9
Start & Finished: 7/7/10-7/8/10
Published: January 2000
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 608
Genre: Mystery-Horror, Urban Fantasy

In book four of this series The Lunatic Café, Anita killed Edward’s backup in a kill or be killed situation (she has so many of those doesn’t she?) and he said either they’d find out which one is better or she would owe him a favor. Anita chose the favor and in book 9 of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series Obsidian Butterfly, he’s calling in his marker and even the monsters are afraid of the things happening with this case. The title of this book refers to an Aztec vampire who goes by the name Itzpapalotl which means Obsidian Butterfly and is the name of the vampire’s club too.

It hasn’t been since the very early days that the main plot of the novel was more police investigation than Anita’s love life which right now is non-existent because she’s taking time to herself from both Jean-Claude and Richard. Neither of them; or anyone from the rest of the series besides Edward and Anita (Olaf does show up again in a later book), are even in this book technically, though they are mentioned and Jean-Claude appears in a dream (they share dreams because of the triumvirate marks). Anita does start having some unusual reactions in this book that will be addressed later in the series. She also realizes that she just doesn’t want to do police work anymore because she’s “seen too many horrors in too short a space of years” which is interesting because that’s exactly what these books started off as, hard-boiled mysteries with a generous splash of supernatural. That weariness that she wears like a mantel through this book really is kind of depressing and there are hardly any moments that she’s not constantly fighting something, even if it’s herself.

Edward hasn’t been in every book but he’s been in over half up to this point in the series (not the last two though) and the reader just doesn’t really know him. I’m not a 100% if even the author even knows him. He’s a stone cold killer that is a somewhat friend of Anita’s: “It wasn't friendship the way most people understood it, but it was friendship. There were several people I'd trust with my life, but there is no one else I'd trust with my death.” However, Anita and the reader finally get to know a little about him in this book. Not much mind you, and nothing too personal, but he let’s his mask slip a little here and there. I’ve always liked Edward for being exactly who he is, someone who can pull Anita’s butt out of the fire when she needs it and when the bad guys are raining down. I’ll always look forward to his guest appearances within the books.

During an interview Laurell K. Hamilton said, “In Obsidian Butterfly, the reader is confronted with a very violent, sexual episode involving children. This scene is probably one of the main reasons that I have been reluctant for any other supporting character to have children. Look what happened to Richard's family in Blue Moon, and they were both grown-ups. Anita and her cast live in a very violent world. It is not a good place for non-combatants. Obsidian Butterfly brought that home for me, for Anita, and for Edward. I did not know what the bad guys were doing with the children they had taken hostage until Anita saw it. It being a total surprise to me helped the writing up to a point, then trying to do the scene justice, and not cutting away. This scene is probably the scene I most wanted to do as the 40s pan to the sky, and not look at what was happening. I have actually talked to abuse survivors, and I felt strongly that if I blinked, if the camera turned away, that I would be betraying all the people who shared such painful memories with me. Looking away from something doesn't make it go away, it just makes it harder to talk about. We will be going back to New Mexico and doing a follow up book with Edward and his would-be family. We will see how the children have coped with what happened. I am both looking forward to that book, and sort of dreading it.”

Edward was a hit man. He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shapeshifters, anything and everything. There were people like me that did it legal, but Edward didn't sweat the legalities, or hell, the ethics. He even occasionally did a human, but only if they had some sort of dangerous reputation. Other assassins, criminals, bad men, or women. Edward was an equal opportunity killer. He never discriminated, not for sex, religion, race, or even species. If it was dangerous, Edward would hunt it and kill it. It's what he lived for, what he was -- a predator's predator.

I raised eyebrows at Edward. Oh, pooh. The most dangerous man I'd ever met was engaged to a mother of two that said things like, "Oh pooh." It was just too weird.

I've learned over the years that if someone says they're a god, you don't argue with them unless you're better armed. So I didn't try and get the business moved up. She was nuts and had enough muscle backing her in this building to make her brand of craziness contagious, or even fatal. So we'd do arcane vampire shit, then when the self-proclaimed goddess was satisfied I'd get to ask my questions. How bad could it be, watching them prove they were gods? Don't answer that.

"If it can die, I'll kill it." I said it because she needed to hear it. I said it because after what I'd seen it do, that was the plan. Maybe it had been the plan all along. Knowing Edward it probably had been. He said solve the case when what he usually meant was kill them, kill them all. As a plan, I'd heard worse. As a way of life, it lacked a certain romance. As a way to stay alive, it was just about perfect. As a way to keep your soul intact, it sucked. But I was willing to trade a piece of my soul to stop this thing. And that was perhaps my biggest problem. I was always willing to compromise my soul if it would take out the great evil. But there always seemed to be another great evil coming down the road. No matter how many times I saved the day and took out the monster, there was always another monster, and there always would be. The monster supply was unlimited. I was not. The parts of myself that I was using up to slay the monsters was finite, and once I used it all up, there would be no going back. I'd be Edward in drag. I could save the world and lose myself.
And staring down into the woman's face, watching that perfect faith fill her lost eyes, I wasn't sure the bargain was a good one, but I was sure of one thing. I couldn't say no. I couldn't let the monsters win, not even if it meant becoming one of them. God forgive me if it was arrogance. God protect me if it wasn't. I got up out of bed and went in search of monsters.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: I was covered in blood, but it wasn't mine, so it was okay. Not only was it not my blood, but it was all animal blood. If the worst casualties of the night were six chickens and a goat, I could live with it, and so could everyone else. I'd raised seven corpses in one night. It was a record even for me.

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Crescent Blues

Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Obsidian Blade: The Obsidian Butterfly’s priest uses this on the followers for various reasons.
Aztec: This could easily be the Obsidian Butterfly’s human servant/ priest
Submachine gun: There’s a gun fight Edward and Anita vs. the bad guys.
Aztec Warriors: The Aztec warrior god Tezcatlipoca is depicted as a jaguar so the guards and some of the performers in the club wear costumes like these.
Submachine Gun: Anita gets to play with one of these for the first time.

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