When Laurell Hamilton was working on the most recent book in her Meredith Gentry series, a story about Anita Blake kept niggling at her mind, and she was unable to focus on the Meredith story until she gave in and dedicated some time to Anita as well. The story she wrote is Flirt, a short mystery/fantasy/suspense novel involving a day or two in Anita's life, which of course includes plenty of mayhem, not to mention zombies and some sexy shapeshifters.
Anita's day job, when she's not out fighting big bad vampiric, were, or psychopathic villains, is as an animator. She raises people from the dead, usually to resolve a dispute about a will or other legal matter. She is a necromancer, unlike many of her animator colleagues, and word has gotten around that the dead that Anita raises are so revived that they are indistinguishable from regular, living people. For a while, that is. Other reanimated bodies typically resemble movie zombies, so Anita can command fairly high prices for her services. And if she doesn't approve of the reason someone wishes to reanimate someone, she simply will not do it.
One such refusal puts Anita's loved ones in a tight spot, however. She is cornered at a restaurant by a couple of unfamiliar shapeshifters and told that she must raise someone from the dead, or risk having several of the people she loves most killed. Anita finds that her reputation is a double-edged sword, and her captors seem ahead of her every step of the way, knowing way too much about her supernatural abilities. Fortunately for Anita, however, they don't know everything she can do...
The Anita Blake series is so long and complex, and so much has happened along the way, that each book tends to focus on one narrow aspect of her life - her relationship with Jean-Claude, the vampire Master of the City, and the complications that arise from it, or her role as leader of the wereleopards, or a hunt for a supernatural serial killer that needs her special brand of expertise. I enjoyed going back to Anita's original job, particularly as she has become a very different woman from the one in the early books. It is fascinating to see how she has been shaped by previous events - and how she, in turn, is shaping the events around her, always venturing into morally ambiguous areas, but never backing down from tough decisions.
The author's note at the end offers a fascinating glimpse into her writing process, and the comic strips at the end of the book are delightful. There were some minor issues with plot turns that seemed the tiniest bit too convenient, but as always, I am more interested in the emotional development of the characters, not to mention the breakneck action, and I enjoyed this brief sojourn in Anita's world very much.
Books in the Anita Blake series:
1. Guilty Pleasures
2. The Laughing Corpse
3. Circus of the Damned
4. The Lunatic Cafe
5. Bloody Bones
6. The Killing Dance
7. Burnt Offerings
8. Blue Moon
9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir
17. Skin Trade
Flirt (#18 in the Anita Blake series) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley Books, 2010)
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Book Series Reviews: "The worldbuilding, the complexity of the relationships, the complexity of the metaphysics - all of these things make this a really interesting series. Some of the books are better than others though, and this one was not one of the best."
The Drabbler: "And though Flirt is only a side step in the overarching tale Hamilton has been telling throughout the series, I’m still left wondering (for the last three books to be exact) where is she going with this story. It’s been many books since there has been significant interaction with the characters who made the series compelling in the first place..."
The Good, the Bad and the Unread: "I liked Flirt because it had a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a short novel, or a novel-length short story that deals with loss and love. There is some redemption in the story, though it’s a darker redemption as is appropriate for the setting."