Laurell K. Hamilton
The Laughing Corpse (1994)
Anita Blake #2
Reviewed: 1998-11-21

After drudging through Donaldson's endless exercise in self-flagellation, I needed to read something cheerful, uplifting, simply fun, so I picked up the second novel of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Anita Blake is a young woman with an attitude. Tough-as-nails vampire slayer on the outside, she quotes Dirty Harry as her role model. The Laughing Corpse isn't much about vampires, though. This time zombies make Anita's day.

A rich millionaire wants Anita to raise a zombie. Well, she's an animator, that's her daytime, pardon, nighttime job. There's a catch, though. This zombie is so old that a human sacrifice is required to bring it back. Anita firmly declines, but some people just won't take no for an answer.

This disrespect for refusal is also shared by Dominga Salvador, only the most powerful voodoo priestess in the American Midwest. When Anita meets her and doesn't join in a proposed common business venture, the dislike is intense and mutual, with the ladies promising to eventually kill each other. Leaving the question of etiquette aside, this promises some unpleasant events.

Just in order to let life not become too easy, the police also require Anita's assistance to catch an undead serial killer munching on families. The half-eaten remains of the victims aren't pretty. Not surprisingly, the separate plot lines turn out to be connected. Oh, and lest we forget, Anita, who prefers vampires with a stake through their heart, still has to deal with the attentions of Jean-Claude, the city's new Master, who has a very special relationship with her.

Anita is lovely again. Tough, cynical, vulnerable, compassionate. The writing is engaging. Readers beware, there is a tremendous amount of carnage in this book, described in possibly stomach-turning detail. One nit I would like to pick, though: The copy editing has either been sloppy or non-existent, leaving the reader with too many typos, grammar errors, and nonsensical gun talk.

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