Lunatic Cafe – Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter – Laurell K. Hamilton

The Lunatic Cafe (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 4)

Anita Blake always has someone after her, probably because she has such a dickwad personality. She always has to have the last word even when someone has a gun pointed at her. She reminds of a Chihuahua going up against a rabid bear. They yap and yap trying to bite the bear but with one swipe of a claw, the bear could tear the Chihuahua apart. It’s annoying. The real reason that people are after her is because of her job. She’s an animator; a person who brings the dead to life in the form of zombies so people can question them for various reasons like contested wills and such. Another part of her job is to hunt and kill vampires when a death warrant goes out for one of them. The vampires call her the Executioner. It doesn’t make her too popular with them. She also works with a special division of the police force nicknamed the spook squad that investigates paranormal crimes. She works so much she rarely gets any sleep and she is constantly getting into situations where she gets beat up and almost killed.

During the winter, the animator business is slow so her greedy boss gets creative and books clients for Anita who want her to do things that aren’t in her job description. One man wants her to find his wife who is missing. She is a werewolf so he doesn’t want to go to the police. She sends him to her private detective friend. Another woman wants Anita to set up a meeting with a were-rat so she can interview him for the book she is writing. Her boss is greedy so he tries to turn anything into a buck.

In this book, Anita is dating Richard, a werewolf shifter. Anita is prejudice against things she thinks are monsters like vampires and shifters but she liked Richard before she knew he was a werewolf and she has tried to convince herself that lycanthropy is a disease and isn’t his fault. She doesn’t want to think of him as a monster but she keeps seeing signs that make him a monster like how he looks at people in a crowd like he is looking at prey or how he has to force himself not to lick blood off of his fingers when helping a wounded friend. Richard has never killed anyone and says he can control his beast.

While on a date at the theater, Jean-Claude comes up to them and lets Anita know that Richard has problems with his werewolf pack leader. Anita finds out that Richard fought the pack leader, Marcus, and would have won but wouldn’t kill him. In order to win the title of pack master, you would have to kill the pack master but Richard refuses to kill anyone. He is against killing. Jean-Claude says that Marcus wants Richard dead. Anita keeps saying how she is so against the monsters but she is much more of a monster than some of the vampires and shifters. She kills all of the time, sometimes just because of her pride or for revenge. She doesn’t stay mad at Richard long and agrees to marry him but then starts to have second thoughts because she doesn’t think she can handle him being a monster.

Outside the theater, Gretchen, a vampire who is in love with Jean-Claude threatens Anita and tells her to stay away from Jean-Claude. Anita tells her that she has no interest in Jean-Claude but Gretchen hates that Jean-Claude wants Anita. Jean-Claude catches Gretchen outside with Anita and tells Gretchen that he has no romantic interest towards her and to never go near Anita again.

Richard and Anita have a heavy make-out session which ends with Anita telling Richard she won’t have sex with anyone until marriage. She was engaged to someone in college who she was in love with so she had sex with him but his family didn’t think she was good enough for him so he dumped her. Oh puke! She goes around killing people but she won’t have sex with anyone? It’s weird. I know she is religious because she goes to church but how can she think sex is bad but not killing? Or for that matter, raising zombies which I think is cruel. Let’s bring back a dead person, remind him that he is dead and question him or do whatever other weird thing to him and then say, “Oh, now you have to go back into the grave again.” Yet, Anita sees nothing wrong with it. The only other thing I can think why she won’t have sex is that sex is an emotional attachment to someone. Jean-Claude told her that he thinks she would get emotionally attached to someone if she had sex with them. She denied it a said that sex is sex so I’m at a loss to why she wouldn’t have sex with someone she loves until marriage. Does the author think we will somehow like and respect Anita Blake more because of it?

This book has a pretty complicated plot. Anita gets called out to lend her expertise on a death in a small town outside St. Louis. The sheriff’s office there is a bunch of inept yokels who try to push their weight around. The sheriff claims that the death is most likely a bear attack even though a bear hasn’t been spotted around there in over 50 years. They don’t want anyone taking over a case in their jurisdiction. By the time, Anita gets to check out the body, the crime scene has been trampled on so badly that evidence is hard to find but she determines that the death was done by some sort of a shape shifter, most likely a werewolf.

Richard’s pack master, Marcus, asks to meet Anita because he needs her help with something. She goes to the Lunatic Café to meet with him in a back room. The Lunatic Café turns out to be owned by Lycanthrops and is filled to the brim with them. The meeting in the back room is filled with menace and animosity towards her. She ends up shooting and killing one werewolf and watches as the others start to eat the dead man. She shoots another man on the way out and barely escapes with her life. On her way out a swan shifter who is not a predator gives her an envelope from Marcus. It has the names of 8 were-shifters who are missing. He wants her help to find them. He won’t go to the police and does not want them involved. A lot of Lycanthropies don’t like people knowing what they are because people have prejudices and fears. Some people don’t believe you can only get the disease by being bit by a shifter while they are in animal form. They believe they are dangerous so when people find out they are a shifter, they lose jobs and friends. Anita agrees to help them.

Gretchen tries to kill Anita and her were-rat friend, Louis. In order to save Louis’ life, Anita tells Gretchen that she is in love with another man and is going to marry him. Gretchen tells Anita that she will kill Louis if she doesn’t meet her later at Guilty Pleasures, a vampire strip club owned by Jean-Claude. She tells Anita that she has to tell Jean-Claude that she is going to marry Richard. Gretchen thinks Jean-Claude will be so mad that he will kill Anita and then fall in love with Gretchen. When Anita tells Jean-Claude, he is angry but thinks Anita has feelings for him. He kisses someone in front of Anita which makes Anita a little jealous even though she won’t admit it. He punishes Gretchen for hurting Anita. He is severe and a bit cruel while doing it to where Anita feels bad for Gretchen. He explains to her that if he isn’t cruel, Gretchen will not learn because she will think he is weak.

Jean-Claude makes an agreement with Anita to give him a chance to date her while she is dating Richard also. He wants equal time with her and equal benefits such as kisses. If she gives Richard a kiss, she has to kiss him also. He promises to not kill Richard if she agrees to this and at the end of the agreement if she chooses Richard, he will leave her alone.

Like I said or wrote, the book has a lot of twists and turns. Most everything came together at the end but a couple things were left unanswered or were unclear to me. I never quite figured out who or what exactly was responsible for the original murder. Marcus is still pack leader and Richard is still loyal to him and the pack. They never settled their dispute. It could be answered in the next book.

There were a lot of new characters introduced, mostly unsavory ones like an alpha female werewolf named Raina. She is a sick woman who is responsible for punishing pack members who get out of line or don’t follow rules. She is cruel and enjoys hurting people. She is a sick little puppy. Pun intended. She is the one that Jean-Claude kisses. Another nasty character is a were-panther named Gabriel. He likes pain and is perverse. There were more characters introduced but these two stood out.

I have a feeling some of this book will spill into the next book. Speaking of which, I’m going to download it and start reading it now.

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