Guilty Pleasures is the first book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I first read this novel and a few of its successors nearly 15 years ago, but don't quite remember why I ended up losing interest in the series. On a recent venture to my local indie bookstore, I decided to restock my shelves with the first few books in this series to try it again, and to see where my opinion of the series now stands as a professional reviewer.
In the end, I'm glad I decided to give Guilty Pleasures another try, because I truly enjoyed my time with the novel, and thought it very original.
In a universe parallel to ours (in which the Supreme Court has granted vampires the same equal rights as humans), the young 20-something Anita Blake is a professional vampire hunter and necromancer. Although Anita refuses to mingle with vampires outside of work, her girlfriends convince her to go to Guilty Pleasures - a vampire club owned and ran by a local vampire coven.
It is there at Guilty Pleasures that Anita crosses paths with Jean-Claude - a powerful, sexy, and irresistible master vampire who hires Anita to hunt down a serial killer who is murdering a number of (ironically) innocent vampires. In typical crime-novel format, Anita then looks into the murders while experiencing some of her own adventures involving necromancy and the walking-dead.
There are several strong points that make Guilty Pleasures exemplary. Although the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series eventually morphs into exotic paranormal romance down the road in future books, Guilty Pleasures completely falls into the genre of dark crime noir. After being assigned her "case" by Jean-Claude, Anita takes the necessary steps to investigate, and eventually nabs the culprit.
The chapters in Guilty Pleasures are short and sweet (usually between 2-5 pages long), which makes for fun and easy reading with plenty of breaks. The novel also features a long and diverse cast of characters that result in a harmony of exciting sub-plots and story lines. Anita Blake reminds me of a sassier and more brutal version of Stephanie Plum of the bounty hunter crime series by Janet Evanovich. In fact, like the Evanovich series, the Anita Blake series is narrated in first-person by Anita Blake in the same style as Stephanie Plum.
Hamilton mixes violence, romance, fantasy, crime, and humor into quite the delightful package. Given how popular the paranormal romance/fantasy genre has become in recent years, it's impressive just how ahead of the times Hamilton was when she created this series in 1993. Better yet, Guilty Pleasures doesn't feel at all dated - as a reader, you'd never be able to tell it was written or took place in 1993.
Another major aspect I like about Guilty Pleasures is that Hamilton doesn't hold anything back in terms of grit, violence, and sex, and I find that unpredictable and exciting as a result. It's thrilling to know that the next chapter could be completely heartbreaking and mind-blowing thanks to Hamilton's ability to keep us on the edge of our seats as readers.
After I finished Guilty Pleasures, I went right back out and purchased the next four books in the series, which are The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, The Lunatic Cafe, and Bloody Bones.
Click on any of the images of the books below to review them in more detail on Amazon.com.
Are you a fan of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series? Have you ever read any of the books in this series, and if so, what did you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.