Thursday, February 18, 2010

review: THE LAUGHING CORPSE by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake #2
Penguin: Jove
Released 1994
Source: Bookstore
293 pages

Rating: It was okay

Harold Gaynor offers Anita Blake a million dollars to raise a 300-year-old zombie. Knowing it means a human sacrifice will be necessary, Anita turns him down. But when dead bodies start turning up, she realizes that someone else has raised Harold's zombies - and that the zombie is a killer. Anita pits her power against the zombie and the voodoo priestess who controls it.

In The Laughing Corpse, Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried - and some people better off dead . . .


The Laughing Corpse is the second installment in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Unlike the first book, this story focuses more on Anita’s work – reanimating the dead – than vampires. Anita is asked to raise a 283-year-old corpse, which is impossible to do without a human sacrifice. She walks away from the deal, but it turns out that Harold Gaynor is not an easy man to turn down. Between dealing with Harold, working with the police, and avoiding the new Master of the City, Anita’s life is busier than ever.

Because of all the crime scenes that Anita is called to, this book reads like an episode of CSI or Law & Order, bad jokes and all. The descriptions were a little gory for my taste, sometimes even disturbing. It’s always worse when children are involved. Another theme running through the book was the idea of legal rights for zombies. It seems silly at first, but Anita continues to run across ways in which zombies are being used that seem completely inhumane. I was disappointed that this theme was not explored more thoroughly, though hopefully Hamilton will do so in the next installment.

Once again, I felt that the writing style was flat. Even worse was the repetition of lines from the first book. I can understand wanting the book to be able to stand alone, but it would have been nice to not have entire sections copied word-for-word from Guilty Pleasures. Unfortunately, The Laughing Corpse suffers from the same horrible grammatical issues as Hamilton’s first book. I have to wonder if she let anyone edit her work.

I will continue to read this series, but only to see if her writing style changes. Anita is an interesting character, but that is more because of her job than her personality. The fact that she is so confident in her ability to take care of herself, yet relies so heavily on (and finds so much comfort in) her gun, is unrealistic. She is brash and unsympathetic. Hopefully this will change in the future, as the character matures.

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