Okay. I've had a day to process the book so I will now attempt to do a fair review. I will start by saying that yes, I am one of those people who used to adore LKH's books - Guilty Pleasures is the book that made me want to write urban fantasy, and so Anita Blake will always hold a particularly nostalgic place in my heart. And yes, I am now one of those people who just hangs around for the lulz. The last book I actually read all the way through was The Harlequin, which from what I recall was about Anita worrying about her feelings for Nathaniel? And that was the whole book? Anyway, so I may have missed some salient plot developments between there and Hit List. I don't think it impacted my understanding of the book.
So the alleged set-up is that Anita and Edward are in Washington hunting a weretiger serial killer. Cool! That sounds cool, right? Anything that could kill a weretiger must be pretty dangerous, given that weretigers are faster than human fast and stronger than human strong and whatnot. We even start with Anita and Edward at a crime scene, investigating! Unfortunately their detective prowess extends only as far as figuring out whether the body is resting on its back or front, and even that seems to challenge them. Uh-oh. Then they decide that since they can't let the puny humans know it's the Harlequin killing the tigers, they'll solve the crime by killing the killers rather than ... solving the crime. I guess it didn't occur to them they'd still have to FIND THE BAD GUYS THROUGH DETECTIVE WORK IN ORDER TO KILL THEM?
From there it's pretty much all downhill. If you've got your Anita Blake bingo card, you've already won. We've got the misogynistic marshall who judges Anita because she sleeps with monsters. We've got a very lonely weretiger whom nobody understands but Anita, and she loves his beautiful pain and takes him home to snuggle. We've got Anita being better than you at everything and having to lecture people about things she knows that they don't know because she's better than them. We've got wangsting about sex, weapons porn, and a bad guy who is defeated by Anita thinking about how she's better in bed than said bad guy. I AM NOT MAKING THAT UP. The Mother of All Darkness, supposedly the most evilest baddest scariest uberpowerfulest vampire shapeshifter evil bad guy ever is defeated by Anita making out with the vampire MOAD is possessing and thinking about her boyfriends whilst she does it.
I KNOW, RIGHT?
God forbid Anita should use some ingenuity to beat the bad guy. Or even solve the crimes. She just blunders around getting in everyone's face until she's kidnapped and hand-delivered to the villain. Smooth. And she doesn't even rescue herself using one of her many, many, many vampire/necromancer/shapeshifter powers - one of the bad guys has a bizarre change of heart about being a bad guy because he also has some beautiful pain that only Anita can understand and decides to help her escape. Fair enough...
Leaving the plot aside, it's not good technically. I managed to read the whole thing but only out of a kind of morbid fascination. There are numerous continuity errors and plot holes. The dialogue is flat and repetitive. Apparently LKH doesn't believe her readers are capable of understanding subtext, because nothing is left for us to interpret. Everything Anita says is repeated back to her by another character in a slightly different phrasing, allowing her to wax on for another paragraph in greater detail about whatever mundane thing they're discussing. And then all the interesting things we could have been reading about whilst Anita is making out to save the world? They're summarised in two tepid pages of monologuing. Things like, the serial killer who lusts after Anita getting turned into a werelion. Know what? I would have liked to read about that! Instead Anita makes it a footnote because it's more important to discuss how she took her new pet weretiger home to her harem and he's fitting in really well.
You know what bothers me the most about Hit List? You can see that LKH really tried to write a gripping thriller. She tried to write a book with the sex pared down and the adrenaline bumped up. But she couldn't. She just can't. Without the sex distracting from everything else, you can see how turgid her writing skills have become. We can speculate endlessly on why the books have deteriorated so much, but the fact is, by any standard this was a crap book. By the standard of a NYT bestselling author, it's an appalling book.
12 / 24 words. 50% done!