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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton

Dead Ice
Author:  Laurell K. Hamilton
Series:  Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 24
Publisher:  Berkley, June 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages
List Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425255711 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review:  Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton
Anita Blake has the highest kill count of any vampire executioner in the country. She’s a U.S. Marshal who can raise zombies with the best of them. But ever since she and master vampire Jean-Claude went public with their engagement, all she is to anyone and everyone is Jean-Claude’s fiancée.

It’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass—to some extent. Luckily, in professional circles, she’s still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn. Anita has seen her share of freaky undead fetishes, so this shouldn’t bother her. But the women being victimized aren’t just mindless, rotting corpses. Their souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

It’s the sort of case that can leave a mark on a person. And Anita’s own soul may not survive unscathed . . .

Doreen’s Thoughts

Laurell K. Hamilton has been writing since the early 1980s, and Dead Ice is her twenty-fourth novel about Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. During these years, Anita has evolved from a fairly uptight young woman to someone who is involved in polyamory, intimate relationships with more than one other person. Some reviewers feel that since Hamilton started adding this element to her novels, they have become little more than erotica. However, Hamilton was one of the pioneers to combine mystery with the supernatural, and for years, I struggled to find her novels in the stacks as Horror, Mystery, or Fantasy, before someone developed the Urban Fantasy genre.

Dead Ice brings Anita back with a new mystery to solve and more relationship issues to negotiate. While not as tightly written as Affliction, Hamilton is still able to balance the mystery with the personal. This time, someone is making porn using zombies that still possess their souls, something that no one has been able to do since the initial novels. However, the Senora is dead and cannot be the one raising these zombies, and Anita is left to work with the FBI to try to find some clue as to who is performing this rite and how.

At the same time, on the home front, Anita has agreed to marry Jean-Claude, the master vampire of America, and hold a commitment ceremony with at least two of her other lovers, Nathaniel and Micah. However, in the shapeshifter community, there is a prophecy that in order to keep Marmee Darkness dead, Anita must enter into a relationship with one of the tiger shifters. Lastly, Asher continues to make trouble with his lovers and negotiates a relationship that threatens the hyena shifter politics.

Hamilton does a good job portraying some of the more mundane aspects of polyamory -- communication. Everyone involved in the relationship must negotiate and discuss every aspect of adding or deleting someone from the roster. Anita proves that it is a balancing act, and her feeling that she may be torn too much among too many seems a legitimate response for someone with this lifestyle. In addition, Hamilton discusses some of the intimate details of BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, and roleplaying). As she did with all elements of her novels, she researched the lifestyle extensively before trying to write about it, and it appears that she has done her homework.

I would not recommend this novel (or indeed, any of the novels after Obsidian Butterfly) for anyone under the age of 16, because the sexual scenes in the book are fairly explicit for someone younger. However, I would recommend this series for anyone who is interested in equality, because Hamilton does well portraying individuals from all walks of life – bisexual, polyamorous, sociopathic, etc.

While I feel the relationship aspect was balanced with the mystery, I did think the mystery was solved a little abruptly, although I did see the foreshadowing from the beginning. While some might complain about the relationship aspect of the series, I appreciate it because I feel it more fully depicts Anita as a well-rounded human. I appreciate that she has evolved and grown over twenty-four years. While I sometimes have difficulty remembering the difference between Dev and Demon, it makes me sympathize with an individual who must have sex to feed a certain supernatural need. I still look forward to a new Anita Blake novel whenever they are published.

Review: Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childs

Ming Tea Murder
Author:  Laura Childs
Series:  A Tea Shop Mystery 16
Publisher:  Berkley, May 5, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $25.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425281642 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childs
It’s scones and scandal for Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning in the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Steeped in Evil

Normally Theodosia wouldn’t attend a black tie affair for all the tea in China. But she can hardly say no to her hunky, handsome boyfriend, Max, who directs public relations for the Gibbes Museum in Charleston. Max has organized an amazing gala opening for an exhibit of a genuine eighteenth century Chinese teahouse, and the crème de la crème of Charleston society is invited.

In the exotic garden staged in the museum’s rotunda, a Chinese dragon dances to the beat of drums as it weaves through the crowd. The guests are serenaded by a Chinese violin as they sample an assortment of tempting bites. And to give them a memento of the occasion, there’s even a photo booth. But Theodosia makes a grim discovery behind the booth’s curtains: the body of museum donor Edgar Webster.

While Theodosia prefers tea service over the service of justice, this case is difficult to ignore—especially after Max becomes a suspect. Now she must examine the life of the fallen philanthropist and find out who really wanted him to pay up…


Jennifer's Review

Ming Tea Murder is the 16th installment in the Tea Shop Mystery Series penned by Laura Childs. The series follows Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop located in historic Charleston, South Carolina. The book opens to find Theo attending a posh museum gala to celebrate the Gibbes Museum’s acquisition of an antique Chinese teahouse, with her boyfriend Max, who is the director of public relations for the museum. All is going well until Theo finds wealthy museum donor, Edgar Webster, brutally murdered in the photo booth. Now she must find a cunning killer before Max is arrested for the crime.

The main characters in this series are multidimensional, having evolved considerably over the course of 16 books. Theo is the ideal heroine for a cozy mystery. She is strong and intelligent, with a knack for sleuthing. She relies heavily on her support system of friends and employees, mainly Drayton and Hayley, to keep her beloved tea shop running and help her focus when she is on the trail of a criminal. Drayton is a seventy-something dapper southern gentleman who serves as Theo’s right hand man. He is rarely seen without his signature bowtie, is an expert in all things related to tea, its sourcing and consumption, and is utterly charming in every way. Hayley is the hip young dynamo who runs the tea shop’s kitchen. She’s a brilliant chef and baker, guarding her recipes like a mother hen does her chicks, and adds a touch of whimsy to not only her culinary creations, but to the atmosphere of the tearoom itself. Theo’s inner circle is rounded out by her outrageously over-the-top friend Delaine, owner of an exclusive clothier, and by Max, Theo’s refined and handsome boyfriend, who finds himself at a loss when confronted with being a suspect in Edgar’s murder and must rely heavily on Theo to search for answers.

There are a few characters introduced in this novel to support the mystery. The victim’s widow, Charlotte Webster, is capricious and outspoken when roused, and seems to be getting overly friendly with Harlan Duke, the Texan art dealer who helped bring the teahouse to Charleston, and Roger Greaves, the victim’s slick business partner. Cecily Conrad, a socially climbing shop owner, was overly friendly with the victim prior to his murder, but their affair had turned volatile before his death. Percy Capers and Elliot Kern, the museum’s Asian curator and director, respectively, both play roles in not only the mystery, but in the subplot that revolves around Max’s future with the Gibbes Museum. Other notable characters are Detective Tidwell, with whom Theo has an adversarial but respectful relationship that spans the Tea Shop series, and Delaine’s elderly relative, Aunt Astra, who has an irreverent wit that becomes so comical she is nicknamed Aunty Acid by Delaine and Theo.

This installment of the Tea Shop Mystery series has a complex and satisfying mystery that culminates with a climactic chase scene that gets the reader’s pulse moving right at the end. The Indigo Tea Shop and the town of Charleston are brought to life skillfully and the characters that the author has created blend so seamlessly with their environments and are so well drawn that the reader would not be surprised to walk into a small tea shop and see each of them there. The tea lore interspersed throughout the novels, and the special recipes and tea time tips included in each book, all help to set this series apart from others in the cozy mystery genre, and give the books charm and warmth that make them well loved.

Review and Giveaway: Queen of Hearts by Rhys BowenReview and Giveaway: Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery AdamsRhys Bowen on Royal Scandals and Review and Giveaway of Malice at the PalaceReview: A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont and GiveawayReview and Giveaway:  Hooked on Ewe by Hannah ReedGuest Blog by Jennifer McAndrews and Review and Giveaway of Death Under Glass - July 15, 2015Guest Blog by Susan Furlong and Review and Giveaway of Peaches and Scream - July 13, 2015Review:  Dead Ice by Laurell K. HamiltonInterview with Nancy J. Parra - Review and Giveaway of Bodice of Evidence - June 2, 2015Review: Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childs

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