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The Laughing Corpse: Book 1, Animator

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Laurell K. Hamilton

The finest Animator in the business, Anita Blake finds her reputation--and her life--on the line when she encounters a powerful zombie, un undead monster who is leaving a trail of mayhem and murder across the city. Reprint.

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Jove Pubns
Date Published: September 01, 1994
1 review about The Laughing Corpse: Book 1, Animator

"Stupidity isn't punishable by death."

  • Feb 19, 2008
Pros: witty, entertaining, fascinating crimes and supernatural creatures

Cons: gruesome scenes of graphic violence

The Bottom Line: Subtle rather than simple...

"If it was, there would be a hell of a population drop."

Anita Blake is the official Vampire Executioner for the state of Missouri. She is also the Preternatural Expert for the local team of law enforcement that deals with all cases where a non-human is suspected of being involved. These are her jobs, she takes pride in doing them well, and she feels useful to her fellow citizens when she's doing her job. But Anita was born an animator; a natural born charmer of the undead, a Zombie Queen who calls the dead from their graves.

So, you'd think that she'd have a clue as to what undead creature has begun literally tearing apart innocent citizens, families, in her hometown, right? "Had to see. Had to look. Might find a clue. Sure, and pigs could fu@#$ing fly. But still, maybe, there would be a clue. Maybe. Hope is a lying b!@ch." So, where can she go for advice? Anita finds herself setting up a time and place to have a sit down with Dominga Salvador, big bad voodoo priestess. Yeah, it's a date she'd rather not keep, but she'd also like to be able to sleep at night without seeing all that blood.

Besides, anything has got to be easier than dealing with the fact that she's halfway to becoming the human servant of Jean Claude, poster-boy for hot dead guys and, most recently, vampiric Master of the City... Right? "Casual lust is easily defeated. What we have is not casual, ma petite. Not lust, but desire." Yeah, definitely no help there!

Will Anita end this monster's horrific killing spree? Is Harold Gaynor and his million dollar offer to anyone willing to attempt raising a 300 year old corpse somehow responsible for these deaths? Will Anita evade the powerful magic of the vengeful and proud Dominga Salvador if... OK when she takes insult at something that falls out of Anita's mouth?

Can Anita accept her natural talents, and come into her own? Will she find a way to slip the servant's marks that Jean Claude has placed upon her? Perhaps the most frightening question of all is... does she want to be free of him? As Anita says, "People are supposed to fear the unknown, but ignorance is bliss when knowledge is so damn frightening." Who will have the last laugh?

My Thoughts:

Book two of Laurell K. Hamilton's supernatural series deepens our understanding of Anita as she begins to come to terms with who she is and who she wants to become. This book contains some of the most gruesome scenes of graphic violence I've read, which is a trademark of the series. Anita herself struggles with this aspect of her life in much the same way as EMT workers and homicide detectives do. Violence defines Anita as much as love, but it's easy to see which is more familiar to her!

Not a "halfway" person in either her career or any of her other passions, it's only a matter of time before Jean Claude presses his suite as either lover or preternatural Master. She's reawakening to the truth that knowledge is power in a very personal way, and as someone born to reanimate the dead this makes for a powerful and unique read. The supporting cast is still relatively small at this point and we seldom get this close a look at the animator facet of Anita's character later in the series without someone or some event becoming a distraction.

Entertaining, a good developmental piece, Laughing Corpse supports the rest of the series by forming the other half of the framework provided by the first book, Guilty Pleasures. After this, Anita's life becomes even less boring, dangerously so in fact, and new characters lives' begin to rapidly entwine with her life. Laughing Corpse manages to tell a great story while evolving the main characters and the world they live in; subtle rather than simple with plenty of action to keep Anita's mind off of her personal life. Gritty, witty, bursting with creation and death, we are drawn further into her dynamic world that cannot help but be flavored by her own dominant nature.


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