by Laurell K. Hamilton



266pp/$5.99/October 1993

Guilty Pleasures
Cover by Steve Gardner

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The world in which Anita Blake lives is filled with vampires, zombies, ghouls and a variety of other nasties which go bump in the night. These creatures are integrated into daily society, especially vampires, who have been granted equal rights by the Supreme Court. According to Laurell K. Hamilton, most people accept vampires as reasonably ordinary citizens.

Although Hamilton shows vampires interacting with a large number of humans, invariably the humans she shows in the novel Guilty Pleasures are vampires junkies, people who find vampires erotic. How well vampires are accepted by the rest of society is difficult to judge, although Hamilton's claim is difficult to believe given the way many Americans feel about about anybody who is slightly different than they are. I just don't see this society being among the first to welcome vampires with open arms. Nevermind the legal issues which would arise in a world where vampires must drink human blood to survive.

If you can put aside the issue of whether or not this society is believable, Guilty Pleasures is a reasonably enjoyable novel. Anita Blake is a raiser of zombies who works on the side tracking down and killing rogue vampires (although she never precisely defines what makes a rogue vampire). Starting at the top, Guilty Pleasures pits Blake against the millennial-old vampire master of St. Louis, Nikolaos. Along the way, Blake runs into a variety of the above mentions ghasties as well as the humans who love them.

Guilty Pleasures is a mystery novel. Blake, who is called "the Executioner" by vampires, is hired by them to discover who is murdering vampires at random (Blake's own vampire-killing is limited to those vampires on whom she has a warrant). Although the mystery flows reasonably well and Hamilton ties up her various loose ends, the culprit is obvious more than 100 pages before the end of the novel.

For the most part, the emotions Blake professes to feel don't come across to the reader. Yes, the vampires and wererats can smell Blake's fear, but the only way the reader knows is when the creatures gloat. Her actions and thoughts only really betray her fears in one instance, a non-traditional rape towards the beginning of the novel.

Throughout the novel, Hamilton does include a wide range of hint about Blake's past and the world in which she lives. All of these are interesting and lead to a wide variety of questions. Not having read the five sequels to Guilty Pleasures, I can't say whether Hamilton has gone back to explore Blake's origins in more details, but if she hasn't I would surely suggest there is room for at least one prequel novel.

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