Dead Ice. Book Review

deadDEAD ICE by Laurell K. Hamilton
Headline, p/b, 576pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

When you reach number twenty four in a series, have read them all and are eager for the next, then you are addicted. You can include yourself alongside the group of people who devour Mills & Boon books. You need a fix at regular intervals. Admittedly there are differences between these two groups of readership and crossover is very unlikely. This said, there will be readers who will read Dead Ice uncritically. Those who haven’t read anything by Laurell K. Hamilton should avoid this book and start with the first volume in the series, Guilty Pleasures. However, you need to be aware that these books are explicitly erotic and contain vampires.

This series revolves around the adventures of Anita Blake who is described as a Vampire Hunter. She has evolved very much from the woman whose job it was to execute rogue vampires. This is a world where the undead have been given citizen status. This is not the only series where this is the case, but Hamilton was among the first use the convenience for plot development. Anita herself is a necromancer. She is able to raise zombies. She also has a complex social life. Not only is she engaged to Jean-Claude, the king of the vampires in America but she shares her bed with a number of were-animals, mostly Micah and Nathanial, but she is not exclusive. Neither are her bedmates.

The true plot of this story concerns necromancy. Anita is called in by the FBI to view some videos which have zombies as sex slaves. The unpleasant thing about them is that it looks as if the animator has but the soul back into the dead body as the zombies look terrified. They should be unable to show any emotion. Anita has only ever known one person who could do that, and she know that they are dead. So someone has to have discovered the secret. Anita also has a problem with a zombie of her own. Raised for an historical society to question ab out life two hundred years previously, it is far too life-like.

This, the proper plot of the book takes up only about a third of this volume. The focus for kit is taken away by Anita’s domestic arrangements and the issues surrounding the men in her life. There is only one explicit sex scene – for which some readers will buy this book – but there is also a lot of standing around debating. At one point she spends thirty pages standing naked and telling another character why his plans won’t work. It isn’t the only passage like this. There are also places, especially near the start of the book, where information is repeated. This indicates a lack of oversight by an editor, in fact this could be a much stronger novel if some passages were edited down to improve the sharpness of dialogue. This is a case of an established author not planning the book carefully enough to give maximum enjoyment to the maximum people. Like the Harry Potter series, volumes have got longer as the series progresses to the detriment of what is an otherwise good story.

Hamilton’s followers will enjoy this regardless because they will be familiar with the plethora of characters from previous volumes, a newcomer will flounder.