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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 August 2007
Despite my increasing dissapointment with the Anita Blake series I decided to buy the latest book. The first 9 books in the series are still to this day some of the most enjoyable supernatural/fantasy books I have ever read and I must have read them at least a dozen times each. What really hooked me was Hamiltons ability to write really sexy male characters and then build massive amounts of tension between them and Anita. With the introduction of the "arduer"- a need for Anita to feed through sex rather like a vampire feeds on blood - the series rapidly spiralled into barely disguised porn with very little plot.

So I was pleasently surprised with "The Harlequin" which had a great deal more plot than the last couple of books at least. This book was also much better edited than the last one, although I was confused to find that the name of one character kept changing between "Mercia" and "Columbine" in what I can only assume was an editing mistake since one doesn't appear to be an abbreviation of the other.

Some disspointments in this book are that Dolph Storr (head of RIPIT the supernatural police division) is now truly a one dimensional character. He was quite dynamic and strong in the early books and now all he does is turn up in these books to demand a list of how many monsters Anita is currently shagging and then having a temper tantrum. Jason makes an appearence in name only and Hamilton makes a great deal of pages from the same tired themes that are brought out with each book. Anita's worried she's sleeping with too many men, she's upset that the police don't like her anymore, she's upset by really feels like Hamilton is getting very repetitive to sell more books when really she ought to have put this series to bed by now (no pun intended).

So am I recommending this book then? For die-hard fans it's at least more readable than the last two. For newcomers to Anita, I advise you to rush out and buy the first 9 books and then pretend the rest of these didn't happen. You really wouldn't be missing a whole lot.
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on 30 June 2007
.......I hated having to wait to read this, but my kids seemed to think feeding them was more important!!

This was a very welcome return to moving Anita's story onward - the powers she is growing, the reason behind some of the Vampire rules, and hearing about 'Harlequin' - the Vamp police. I really enjoyed reading this - for some time I have been able to pick up and put down the Anita stories and not worry too much. This one I had to read in one sitting because I wanted to find out what happened.

It was fab to see how Peter is getting on, and how honest his feelings/reactions to what happened to him. And strange though it may seem, it was good to see Olaf back as well. The sheer menace of his character is amazing.

Some bits made me smile - who is bigger than who between Micah and Richard, whilst other bits made me sad because deep inside I always wanted Richard to get over himself and be with Anita properly.

A really good book, and am happy to say I await the next Anita story with true anticipation. Well done.
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on 29 June 2007
I have remained loyal to LKH despite deploring her last 3 or so books and feeling that she had lost her way slightly, I am glad that I did as this book was a return to form for me. Whilst admittedly this book is not as good as her early works, I was pleased that the plot was more robust and that some of the more interesting storylines came back into play. Anita as a character is still probably the least likeable in the book for me though so the books will have to remain on form to keep me reading
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on 13 June 2007
Having been slightly disappointed with recent offerings in this series Harlequin was a welcome improvement. I really enjoyed the story and there was enough plot to keep me turning the pages. With the AB books being written in the first person you are always going to have a certain amount of content dealing with the character's thoughts and issues. As to the changes of other characters I can only offer the observation that none of us remains the same as time passes. We are all shaped to some extent by our life experiences so it is unlikely that any one character is going to be exactly the same book after book. I personally feel that the writer is back on track and I am looking forward to the next installment.
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The Anita Blake series started off well, continued for awhile, then took a sharp plunge down into the literary abyss of bad porn.

Well, "The Harlequin" scrabbles PARTLY back out of that abyss, but Laurell K. Hamilton's fifteenth Blake book still suffers from a surfeit of squickly sex, constant sexual ramblings, and a promising plot that gets swamped by the sex-with-Anitacentric politics of vampires and weres.

First a vamp cleric tells her of a threat so terrible that he can't name it, then a movie night with Nathaniel leads to a strange warning -- a white mask. Jean-Claude reveals that it's the warning of the Harlequin, a cruel vampire police who can warp their victims' minds. And apparently Anita and her string of adoring lovers (plus the still-upset Richard) have upset them.

And the politics of the situation are getting quite nasty, with alliances between weres and vamps getting nasty as they try to all have sex with Anita for power and influence, and Anita repeatedly getting hit by her various "beasts." And if they don't manage to kill the Harlequin soon, then Marmee Noir will reawaken -- and the Harlequin will be working for her.

"The Harlequin" sounds promising at first -- it's almost a hundred and fifty pages before Anita has sex with anyone. It's been several books since Hamilton could boast a length like that, and at first glance it seems to be promising a return to prior form.

Unfortunately, the sexless parts even duller than actual sex would have been: talking/remembering/agonizing about sex. There's two long chapters devoted to Nathaniel wanting Anita to tie him up and hurt him during sex, and Anita getting squeamish about it. And about halfway through, she starts having public ardeur sex, bloody sex, lesbian vampire dream sex, feathery sex, and Hamilton seems to be paving the way for sex with Edward's sixteen-year-old stepson.

None of this would matter quite so much if the plot were good -- and some parts of it are excellent. Edward's family vs. job struggle, the were politics and their tenuous relationship with the vampires, the fight between Richard and Jean-Claude, and the whole threat of the Harlequin itself is pretty thrilling, and pared down, it could have been a truly excellent book.

Unfortunately, these promising plots are bogged down in -- you guessed it -- sex. Everyone wants sex with Anita, and chapters of arguing about who gets to is just stupefyingly dull. As if that weren't bad enough, Hamilton takes another jab at her former fans, by announcing disdainfully that, "God hasn't forsaken me; it's just that all the right-wing fundamentalist Christians want to believe he has." Nice that now Anita is God's mouthpiece.

And though Anita doesn't come across near the levels of arrogance in books past, she still comes off as annoying, hypocritical (she likes bloody sex, but gets squicked at the idea of tying a guy up?) and ridiculously superpowerful -- turns out that she's also superpowering anyone she has sex with. And few of the long-haired, animeish femme-men do much but adore Anita, and the few who don't are either banished again (Richard) or are pale shadows of their former selves (Edward).

"The Harlequin" takes some baby steps back toward quality, but the obsession with sex and long-winded arguments drown the promising plot points. Better keep the mask on this one.
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on 12 June 2007
As the previous reviewers noted there is less sex than in the other recent Anita books. There is more of a plot than the previous novel but the book still lacks the detective aspect that I enjoyed so much in the early novels.

Anita is once again the object of desire for every male she comes into contact with, Anita is once again gaining in powers at a ridiculous rate. The book was readable and in parts enjoyable it is still too heavy on the Anita-worship and there are too many characters in play at the same time.
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on 2 July 2007
The Harlequin, while not on par with Guilty Pleasures, sees a good return to form for LKH. In the previous few books the ardeur seemed to be more important than character growth and plot lines.

Thankfully, The Harlequin is back to a more plot based journey and sees Anita learning more about herself and her abilities gained through her two triumvirates. While the Ardeur is still part of Anita she now has complete control over it for the most part and can chose to let it feed.

That's not to say there is no sex, however, it is still part of the series but at least in this book it is more intertwined with the plot than sex for the sake of sex.

If you were a fan of the earlier books this is definitely back on par with them and has left me looking forward to the next instalment.
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on 10 June 2007
The Anita Blake series started out well but took a dramatic plunge at book nine. Now, after five books which were definately not her best work, Laurell K Hamilton has brought the books back up to her usual high standard.

The harlequin sees the return of Edward who was one of my favourite characters and it has more of a story than the last five books. I found myself unable to put it down.

All the old characters have been noticeably absent for the past few books return in all their glory and although parts of the book were still not up to the standard of the first few i found that it was a dramatic improvement to her last few.

Anyone who liked the beginning of the Anita series should read this, because it was a really good book.
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on 10 June 2007
First off it's about time the obsession with sex was toned down a bit and at last this has happened. There's still a bit of nookie in the plot but nothing that will completely overwhelm the plot. And what a plot, clearly the last few years criticism has been taken on board and a tight, well paced plot put together.

We experience a sense of Quo Vadis when the secret police of the vampires decide not to follow the rules. This causes Anita to call for help from Edward who not only brings only his almost stepson, Peter, but also Olaf. The dynamics of the vampire marks in Jean-Claude's triumvirate are well highlighted during a sneak attack and its consequences. We also learn one of the key reasons why the Mother of All Darkness made the rule about all necromancers must be killed when the vampires discover them. I can't say too much without spoilng what was, for me, an unputdownable book.
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on 17 July 2007
I had just about given up all hope.
The last few books have been so disappointing that I wasn`t sure I wanted to read this one, but decided to give this latest offering a shot.
Had it been like the last few that was going to be it - however, I was very pleasantly surprised.

"The Harlequin" is finally the return to form that every Laurell.K.Hamilton fan has been waiting for - at least most of us.

This for me is a return to the old school Anita Blake but with a mix of the new style - minus so much sex.
Ok, so these days you can`t have Anita Blake without the sex but this book has the bare minimum of 3 or 4 shorter scenes of sex but is otherwise explained as having better control.

Anita and the rest go up agains "The Harlequin" in this book, who are the vampire version of the police/bogeyman.

It also see`s the return of a few missing persons into the limelight - Asher, Damian, Edward and the return of Olaf.
Ok, maybe not limelight but they finally resurface.

This really is like reading the original books in the series, except Anita is with all her men and has more power than in the beginning.

I`m so pleased I didn`t give up on this series and very happy I decided to give this book a chance.

My only hope is that the writing stays to this level and higher for the next book - and that the series continues to have the standards this new offereing sets the tone for.

You`ll never escape the sex completely and it will never be what the originals were but it is finally worth reading again.

My highest praise for what is a welcome return to form.
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