The Harlequin (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #15)The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to reading this book because the premise sounded perfect.

The Harlequin of the title are kind of like the secret police of vampires. They are so secret that it is forbidden to talk about them under penalty of death unless you have been contacted by them. Not only that, no one knows who they are, only that they are very powerful, very dangerous and are not to be messed with.

And now we learn that they are in Anita’s home city of St. Loius.

See what I mean about a wonderful premise?

Not only that, but the book starts off really well with a typical scene in Anita’s office and an interesting meeting with Malcolm, the ‘other’ master vampire of St. Louis, who apparently, has been a bad boy by not binding the vampires of his kiss (the collective noun for a group of vampires, apparently. Very apt, I think) to him via a blood oath that basically stops them from going off and doing things vampires really shouldn’t do.

After that, Anita goes out on a date with one of her ‘sweeties’ and is contacted by the mysterious Harlequin and…that’s pretty much the last mention of them until halfway through the book. What we have inbetween is a lot of exposition and a bit of sex. Now granted, I’ve stated before that I don’t mind this but in this case, it effectively derails the story. It’s really not until the last quarter of the book that the story of the Harlequin picks up again, and when it does get going, it is a good story.

Fans of Edward will be pleased because he is back, along with Peter and Olaff, all of whom were last seen in Obsidian Butterfly. I’ll state here that I don’t like Olaff one bit. He creeps me out just as he does Anita but maybe that’s the point of him.

Another thing that I didn’t like was the resolution of the issue with Anita’s lion problem in relation to her inner lion and the local werelion pride. There’s little I can say without spoiling the story, but given that mistakes were made on both sides, Anita’s way was just overkill.

Am I marking the book down because of that? Partly but mostly because I feel a large part of this book was squandered on unnecessary relationship crap and without that, the story of the Harlequin could have shined and been so much better.

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