Review: Sucker Punch (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #27) by Laurell K Hamilton

I am once again attempting to write a brief review, for the usual reasons. Those reasons are the 26 books that come before this book in the series, and the presumed disinterest of people who haven’t read this series before. There is a slight difference this time, because I wasn’t sure if I’d continue reading this series (and I’ve only skimmed previous entries in it) because of the sharp change that occurred around book 10, that filled this series with sex. I don’t have a problem with sex in my books, but it changed the whole course of the novels to (in some cases) revolve more around sex and relationship drama than it does the crime/supernatural elements the Anita Blake series did so well until Narcissus in Chains happened.

I still read the Anita Blake series for the most part. I skimmed Micah and Jason, and thanks to that pattern I somehow only just noticed, the next book in the series, Rafael, is not one I’m looking forward to, despite finding Rafael very interesting as a character. I ended up purchasing Sucker Punch in the end because it has Edward in it, and that generally means that we get to see more of Anita as a hunter than a girlfriend. That held true, and even though relationship drama existed (including in a kind-of-new direction), it didn’t overtake the plot.

The cover is fine, nothing super interesting, but at least it’s not too embarassing or gory to read in public

A brutal murder, a suspect in jail, and an execution planned, but what if the wrong person is about to be killed?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

When a fellow U.S. Marshal asks Anita Blake to fly to a tiny community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on an emergency consult, she knows time is running short. When she arrives, there is plenty of proof that a young wereleopard killed his uncle in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. As the mounting evidence points to him, a warrant of execution is already under way.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

But something seems off about the murder, and Anita has been asked for her expert opinion on the crime scene. Despite the escalating pressure from local cops and the family’s cries for justice for their dead patriarch, Anita quickly realizes that the evidence doesn’t quite add up.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Time is against Anita, as the tight-knit community is up in arms and fear against supernaturals is growing. She races to uncover the truth and determine whether the Marshals have caught the killer or are about to execute an innocent man—all in the name of justice.”

I enjoyed Sucker Punch, despite feeling like it could have done with being trimmed down a bit. Some aspects of the book got repeated a few more times than necessary, including the old Anita Blake classic ‘I’m not like other girls’ internal monologues which I could do without.  

The idea that Anita and the other marshals would have to choose between breaking the law or killing an innocent man was interesting, but it got beat into the ground a little in some scenes. The plot in general moved a little slowly, and even with the slight twist at the end, a lot of it seemed to be waiting for the motive after the situation had been pretty clear for a while (apologies for that atrociously vague sentence, but I’m trying to avoid outright spoilers).

Overall, though, Sucker Punch seemed like a return to the aspects of the series that I’ve always really enjoyed. I loved the small-town investigation angle in this book that’s worked so well in previous novels like Obsidian Butterfly, Affliction and Serpentine, and even though I would have liked Bernardo to make an appearance, I liked that this book didn’t seem to stick to a formula to the point of feeling stale.

Sucker Punch had all the pulpy crime and supernatural elements that made the Anita Blake series work so well in the first place, and I think fans of the series will enjoy the less sex and relationship heavy tone of the book. This book would be good for fans of the Dresden Files (which was apparently inspired in part by this series originally), Diana Pharaoh Francis’s Diamond City Magic series or Deborah Blake’s Veiled Magic series.

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