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The Laughing Corpse

Novel by Laurell K Hamilton (USA) 1994.

Our favourite zombie raiser/vampire killer, Anita Blake, is back in this first sequel to Guilty Pleasures with more problems than ever before. Harold Gaynor is a millionaire trying to force her into making a human sacrifice in order to raise a 300-year old zombie. Dominga Salvador is the most powerful voodoo priestess in the mid-West and she wants Anita dead. And of course, Jean-Claude, the new Master Vampire of the City, wants to turn her into his human servant. To cap it all, a murderous zombie is killing and eating an increasing number of young local families.

Guilty Pleasures was an admirable and inventive book, but this doesn't dwell on past glories: it has its own story to tell and its own merits to recommend it. But where Guilty Pleasures had a clearly defined beginning and ending, this has many themes obviously designed for further exploration in future books and therefore reach no kind of conclusion here. Thus the truly fascinating relationship between Anita and Jean-Claude only serves as an appetiser for the third Anita Blake novel. Even the Laughing Corpse of the title, a vampire comedy club of all things, is hardly used. But the central plot, standard murder hunt though it is, is handled with skill and dexterity; and Hamilton shows where she shines brightest: in her use of suspense. She has a knack for holding the reader in tension-filled scenes of genuine power. Certainly a talent to watch.


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