Laurell K. Hamilton
Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
Anita Blake #9
Reviewed: 2003-06-15

One of the more fascinating characters in the Anitaverse has been Edward: professional hitman specializing in the undead, emotionless killer, one of the most dangerous people to be around with, and Anita's dear old friend. Now Edward has a problem and he's asking Anita to come and back him up. Besides, she still owes him a favor after killing his last backup. What could be so terrible to spook Edward? Both apprehensive and intrigued, Anita travels to New Mexico.

There are a lot of surprises in wait for Anita. Where Edward used to be a mystery, Anita now gets to see his private life and finds a wholly unexpected side of him. Eventually, she will also pick up on Edward's background and see enough hints to understand where he came from and what made him the way he is.

The case. Of course there needs to be a case. Horrible mutilation murders are happening around Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and Edward brings in Anita, partly to help the local police, partly to deal with the issue himself. Anita finds herself in the company of serial killers, stalks a gruesome monster, has to deal with an ancient Aztec vampire queen, a fellow necromancer, and even some very human bad guys.

Hamilton tries to raise the bar again. If possible, there is even worse stomach-turning violence than in previous installments. The pages are slick with gore, the heroine is sucked into a maelstrom of torture and killing. Anita is ever more removed from the ordinary human world. One of her worries used to be that she would come to be like Edward, that she would become as much a monster as he is. Now it seems she may have already surpassed him.

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