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on March 11, 2002
"The Laughing Corpse" by Laurell K. Hamilton, the second novel in the addictive Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter series, is a fun-filled thrill ride that will have readers craving more. Even better than the first of the series, this book grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go. Full of page-turning suspense, this book is escapist reading at its very best!
When Anita Blake, tough-as-nails vampire executioner and necromancer, is offered a million dollars by Harold Gaynor to raise a 300-year-old zombie, she has no choice but to decline. A zombie that old can only be raised one way - with a human sacrifice. Mr. Gaynor is not at all pleased with her refusal, but Anita will not be bought or threatened.
Unfortunately, when incredibly violent and gruesome murders start occurring, apparently perpetrated by a flesh-eating zombie, Anita realizes that someone else has raised Gaynor's zombie.
Anita seeks the help of the country's most powerful voodoo priestess, Dominga Salvador, in hopes that she might know about the killer zombie. However, when Anita refuses an offer to work with Dominga, it puts her on the voodoo priestess' list of enemies.
Anita is left fighting off Gaynor's goons, a murderous zombie, and all the nasty preternatural monsters Dominga Salvador can send her way, which makes for some great reading!
On top of all her other troubles, Anita must deal with the advances of Jean-Claude, the new Master Vampire of the City. Although Jean-Claude is mind-numbingly sexy, Anita refuses to become involved with a vampire. But Jean-Claude doesn't give up that easy, and his witty and sometimes wicked exchanges with Anita are truly entertaining.
"The Laughing Corpse" is a suspenseful, non-stop action adventure set in Hamilton's weird and wild world of vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Readers will be absorbed into this wonderfully imaginative alternate reality and will enjoy every minute spent in the company of Anita and the gang. So pick this book up today, put the phone off the hook, and enjoy!
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Zombies make awesome murder weapons. And when your anti-heroine is able to raise zombies, they make an excellent source for a horror/mystery plot. Laurell K. Hamilton's "The Laughing Corpse" has plenty of grotesque horror and zombie-related nastiness, as well as some clever social questions. But she fails somewhat in creating a convincing mystery story -- not to mention a tolerable heroine.

After rejecting psycho-millionaire client Harold Gaynor (who wants a very old zombie raised, requiring a human sacrifice), Anita is called out to look at the scene of a crime that seems to have been committed by zombies. So she starts investigating possible suspects -- including Dominga Salvador, a malevolent old vaudun priestess who has found a way to keep a zombie ensouled.

Unfortunately some very nasty things -- both living and dead -- are trying to stop Anita's investigations, both into the zombie murders and Harold Gaynor. With the solicitous assistance of Jean Claude and a fellow animator, Anita is able to find more and more information on the zombie-related murders -- and it turns out that Salvador and Gaynor may be working together.

Laurell K. Hamilton was pretty clearly shooting for an "old pulp noir mystery" feel in "The Laughing Corpse" -- acid-tongued anti-hero, grimy urban atmosphere, nasty big-shots, and a series of mysterious deaths. So she fills it with many descriptions of guns, dismembered bodies and creepy-crawly scenes (such as Anita holding a moving bird foot).

Her dialogue-heavy writing does tend to be lean and mildly hard-boiled, with a distinctly horrific vibe (prostitute Wheelchair Wanda tells Anita about Gaynor's sex games). But Hamilton has a rather clumsy style: endless sentence fragments ("Not resurrection. I'm not that good. I mean zombies. The shambling dead. Rotting corpses. Night of the living dead. That kind of zombie"), horrendous dialogue (""F**k you." "I have already offered that." "Damn you, Jean-Claude, damn you") and random rants about whatever bothers Anita at the moment.

In fact, her choppy stripped down style is all the more apparent when Jean-Claude enters the scene , inspiring odes to his vaguely effeminate clothing, hair, "glittering, dark jewel" eyes and "the perfection of his body." It's almost funny to see Hamilton go so completely gaga over a fictional vampire -- and despite Jean-Claude's spooky behavior, she' too in love for him for him to come across as truly scary.

It's too bad, because his manipulative cleverness would make him a brilliant anti-hero, and the question of ensouled zombies is a truly ghastly, thought-provoking one. Unfortunately, we have Anita -- a twenty-four-year-old woman whose seething bitterness is never explained.

It feels like Hamilton wanted to create a Raymond Chandleresque anti-heroine, but tried too hard. Instead Anita is obnoxious, rude, bitter, whiny and despises anyone/anything feminine ("The thought that I had actually spent money on anything pink was more than I could bear"), believing that this makes her "one of the boys." Hamilton uses "zombie rights" to try to make Anita seem compassionate, but her raving, inexplicable hatred of all vampires negates it.

"The Laughing Corpse" has a good story buried somewhere under the sentence fragments and cliche dialogue -- not to mention an awesome vampire and horrific zombies. -- but the heroine is simply too unpleasant.
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on June 12, 2004
Anita Blake is quite a busy girl in this second installment of the series. Gaynor, a sadistic millionaire, has offered Anita a million dollars to raise a very old corpse. Anita is an expert in raising the dead, but there's a catch in this particular request. Human sacrifice is required in order to raise the three-hundred-year-old corpse -- something Anita isn't prepared to do. However, Gaynor won't take no for an answer. To make matters worse, a powerful zombie has killed various families and Anita has sought out help from one of the most powerful and evil voodoo priestesses she's ever met. It is up to Anita to find the monster and the person who had raised it.
The Laughing Corpse is action-packed and suspenseful from beginning to end. Just when you think Anita is out of the woods something else comes along. This novel is as entertaining and riveting as Guilty Pleasures. There is a lot of gore and gruesome descriptions in this one, but said descriptions aren't gratuitous -- except for the police murdered scenes involving slaughtered children. That was a bit too much. I also wish that Jean-Claude had been in more scenes. He is one sexy vampire! I look forward to reading the third installment with gusto. I can see why so many people swear by this series. It's as addicting as chocolate! Highly recommended...
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on March 9, 2004
This is the second novel in an excellent vampire series. Welcome to the world of Anita Blake, necromancer (zombie raiser) and vampire executioner. She is a 5'3" dynamo with a variety of weapons that would make Rambo proud. She is tough, but fair, and her world is very very interesting.
Anita's money hungry boss has made an appointment at a client's home. This client would like a zombie raised. Once Anita arrives and notices the weapons carried by her client's bodyguards, and the type of bodyguards this client has, she realizes this is not your ordinary "I want my attorneys to review my husband's will" so please raise him as a zombie appointment.
Anita's boss is offered a tremendous amount of money to have anita raise a very old zombie. This zombie is so old that the only way to raise him would be to take a human life, and to use human blood. Anita turns this offer down, but this client will not take no for an answer. Also, Anita is pulled into yet another police investigation when she helps the police investigate a case where entire families are being murdered.
This novel has plenty of action and the story lines and characters flows beautifully. This novel is EXCELLENT and I would highly recommend!
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on February 7, 2004
After reading the first book in this series, "Guilty Pleasures", I decided that Hamilton was a good writer, but that if somebody wanted to read novels about vampires they should try Anne Rice first. Now that I have read the second book in the series I realize that Hamilton is clearly among the best in the genre.
Anita Blake has a job unlike anyone else, she is an animator and vampire slayer. Therefore, she raises the dead and executes vampires that have broken the law (vampirism on itself is legal in USA). Anita's physical appearance is peculiar considering her job; her height is five foot three inches and she weighs a hundred and six pounds! She also has a black belt in judo and has been marked twice by the master vampire of the city, Jean Claude, who is in love with her.
In this installment of the series, Anita is offered one million dollars, by one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the city, to raise a two-hundred-and-eighty-three-year-old zombie; task that requires a human sacrifice. After she denies doing this, half of her problems begin. The other half has to do with the gruesome murder of a couple and the disappearance of their child. It is clear that the murderer is not human, it a vampire, ghoul, zombie? Anita sets out to help the police in their investigation and ends up requesting the assistance of Señora Salvador, the most powerful voodoo priestess in the Midwest.
The different story lines come together to make a highly entertaining book. For those who have read the first book in the series you will also get a glimpse of some further aspects of Anita's past, like information about her mother and grandmother and some "secrets" about her tutor during her first steps as an animator. The action is fast-paced and Anita usually refreshes the mood with witty jokes and comments in situations that are definitely gruesome.
I really cannot wait to read the next book in the series, "Circus of the Damned".
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on January 21, 2004
I'd been hesitant to read one of these, despite rave reviews by people
I trust - I'm not much of a fantasy reader, & we're talking vampires,
zombies and werewolves here. Well, folks, what we _really_ have is
a book in the class of the Harold Shea books - one that bends genres
and transcends them.
Let me back off a moment, & tell you what I usually read. I'm in the
mining business, educated as a geologist & chemist. I like my SF hard,
& I'm uncomfortable with gore. So why would I _like_ (let alone
rave about) a vampire book with (literally) buckets of blood? Hint -
it's probably not the scene where, as a joke, Anita tosses a cop the
severed hand from a dismembered infant...
It _could_ be the scene where Anita (5'2", 102#) disarms a _large_
rapist by sticking her derringer in his crotch & threatening to blow his
balls off...
Anita's hard-boiled alright, but she's an uneasy executioner, a
necromancer with scruples, even a soft touch sometimes - she tries to
give a pretty prostitute a bus ticket out of town to "start over" (the
whore laughs in her face). The gore is an integral part of the story, &
the supernatural is treated as just a part of everyday, late 20th C. life -
as alternate history, really (I don't usu like alt hist either). I'm
reminded somewhat of S.M. Stirling's Gwen in "The Drakon" (another
A+ book) - tho Gwen is more cheerful at work. For sure Anita's no
Nick Seafort. I'm not sure I'm getting across here, but *read the book*
and see what you think.
If nothing else, it will lay to rest any lingering thoughts that women
can't be as bloody-minded as men.
review copyright 1997 by Peter D. Tillman
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on December 23, 2003
I am completely disapointed with this story. Unfortunitly I became sucked into the novels. I had bought the Bloody Corpse novel without looking it over well enough to see that it was part of a series. So I went all the way back to the first book and read Guilty Pleasures. With a name like that I thought the story would be great. Unfortunately for me and my pocket book it wasn't. The story line is completely unoriginal and borring. I don't understand how everyone in her story has become modernized, living in the tweentieth century except the vampires, who still wear lace and garments from the eighteenth century. I just think that this story has been done to death, and should die now, instead of painfully dragging it out any further. Hamilton's story line was completely jacked up, she jams everything together in her story so that dramatic scenarios are happening one right after the other. She repeats phrases over and over again throughout the series' of books, and as if the story doesn't suck bad enough they can't even go out with the dignity of a good ending. I don't understand how anyone could enjoy her stories, they are story telling of the absolute worst. I will give her credit on one thing however, at least her female character Anita Blake is actually portrayed as a strong woman instead of some weak pathedic woman that's too afraid to speak up for what she wants. Then again even that credit can't be fully given, the character, Blake sounds like an irritating pompous woman. She looses all the strength she was credited having by starting off as the wholesome virgin and then turning to a vixen-like woman playing the field with two men. Bottom line, this has got to be one of the worst books I've read in a long time. Which is pretty sad.
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on October 28, 2003
I'm not generally a fan of the detective, or "noir" genre. So I find it a continually pleasant surprise that I am as fond of the character of Anita Blake as I am; she is, in many ways, typical of the "tough as nails Private Investigator" character. (Except, of course, that she is 5'3" tall, weighs maybe 110 pounds, and is female. Oh, yeah, and she can animate corpses into zombies and make them obey her; other than that, she's typical.)
This is the second book of the series; I had previously read the first and the third (long story). This book is a bit better than the first, and much better than the third, but the difference is in the internal plausibility of the plot, and in characterization of the villains. Anita is just as much fun in the others as she is here, which is quite a bit, and the writing style is the same (narrative from Anita's point of view, in her voice.)
Word of warning: do not read this book (or any book in this series) if you have a weak stomach, or are easily nauseated. There are graphic descriptions of all-too-realistic crime scenes, scenes in which Anita, as a consultant for the police, is forced to examine the scenes of gruesome murders. Definitely not for the squeamish.
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on September 30, 2003
Personally, I loved this book; it kept me on the edge of my seat. I began reading the series when my friend suggested it to me. I enjoyed the book so much I had to go on and read the next one and now I am on the third. I love the action and suspense the book pulls you into. Anita Blake is so directed and in charge, it gives you a feeling that nothing will ever go wrong with her. She is confident and acts very manly at times but, she has feminine side too. She always knows what she wants and she'll get it. In this book she trapped and put into a situation she doesn't want to deal with. She doesn't want anything to do with Gaynor or Senora Dominga but, ends up dealing with them anyways. Jean-Claude isn't really included in this book but, he knows her power and wants to see it used. Anita is included in so much emotion and action that this book makes it so, you never want to put it down. Also, if you haven't read the first one yet then, I recommend that one too. They both are excellent books that I recommend to any reader that likes action, horror, and suspense.
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on June 26, 2003
Laurell K. Hamilton's second book in the series takes off nicely where the first left off. The book opens with Anita in the mansion of an eccentric millionaire who needs her to sacrifice a human (in order to raise a 300 year-old zombie) and is willing to pay richly for it.
The more Anita Blake novels I read, the better I see Laurell getting as a writer, for it seems she has a hard job - she has to create the rules for this "alternate universe" where vampires and zombies live among us. The problem comes with the issue of "convenience". Instead of letting the reader in on the solution to the puzzle one piece at a time, she does this huge revealing TA-DA! at the end, and it leaves you feeling a little cheated.
The best part of the book has to be the growing "lust" between Anita and Jean-Claude. I found myself blushing from the sexual tension and innuendo - they're quite effective and keep you reading.
I definitely recommend the series - just don't expect anything groundbreaking. With each book you read, the picture gets a little clearer and Hamilton gets much better.
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