This is a review of “The Harlequin” by Laurell K. Hamilton. It is the 15th novel in The Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series.
“The Harlequin” follows on from “Danse Macabre“.
Anita is still trying to find balance in her love life. She’s got about 6 boyfriends at the moment (give or take a few) and it’s hard to give them all equal attention. She goes on a date to the cinema with her youngest flame, stripper Nathaniel. After the movie, she takes a trip to the ladies (as you inevitably do as a woman) and when she goes to wash her hands, she finds a gift box waiting for her near the wash basin. Her name is written on the box. Thinking it is a surprise gift from Nathaniel, she opens the box. In it lies a plain white mask. Bewildered, she questions Nathaniel, but he too is clueless about the box. Correctly assuming that the mask is no doubt something vamp-y Anita calls Jean Claude.
Jean Claude is horrified. He relaxes only slightly when he learns that the colour of the mask is white. He tells Anita that cannot explain the mask and what it means just yet. He tells her only that this is serious vampire business and that they must proceed with caution. He waits until he himself has been contacted (with his very own white mask) before explaining anymore to Anita. This understandably makes Anita very irritated and curious.
The mask gifters are The Harlequin. They are a kind of police force for the vampires. An uber scary police force. A white mask means that they have come merely to observe. But they haven’t just been observing. They’ve been tampering with Jean Claude, Anita and their people. And that’s against the rules. Scared, Anita calls Edward in for back up. The thought of Edward makes her feel safe. If only the same could be said for his back up. He’s brought Peter with him. Damaged teenager, and soon to be step son to Edward. That’s bad enough. But he’s also brought Olaf.
Yup, Olaf. Creepy serial killer Olaf. Creepy serial killer and government spook Olaf, whose victim of preference are small, petite brunettes. Sound like anyone we know? What the hell was Edward thinking? He assures Anita that if he had not brought Olaf along for the ride, then Olaf would have come alone. This way, Edward can at least keep an eye on him. Plus, he’s got the type of expertise they need. Anita just wishes she could shoot him, kill him, and be done with it.
Anita still has to juggle her men too. Nathaniel needs his needs met. His S&M needs met. Anita still has to choose another pomme de sang, and attempt to call Sampson’s siren abilities. Richard is still Richard. Jealous, angry, bitter and longing for an Anita that exists only in her imagination. Can Anita come out with all of her men?
Can they all stay safe from The Harlequin? Can Anita get Olaf to place his…affections(?) elsewhere?
I liked this book better than the more recent Anita books I have reviewed. It had a kind of mystery, and some suspense and twists, but I’d still like some more Animators Inc and police stuff. There were also some pretty big typos that led to confusion (Sylvie saying “I don’t do women” and Willie’s girlfriend became Candy instead of Hannah).
I really liked that Edward and Olaf made an appearance. I also liked that Anita had some relationship issues to work on.