Affliction - Laurell K. Hamilton The bad first, and it's not as bad as you might think: there's a half-dozen obligatory sex scenes. If it hadn't been written in as a character flaw that's also a series-long plot-device, as a response to Laurell K Hamilton's publisher demanding that she cannot mix romance (or furry romance) with (hard-boiled police-drama/necromancy/furry politics/vamp politics/musings about what makes a person a sociopath,) then I might have written-off the series more than ten books ago as needlessly sexed-up.

The good: The author is bold. She throws many genres in the pile and watches them go at each other in a urban-fantasy death-match. My personal favorites are the suspense and tension resolved by an inevitable power-up and conclusion that shows us just how god-like this character really is after consistently leveling-up for 22 books.

That's another thing I like: The fact that Anita Blake has leveled-up. If you take the great majority of hard-boiled fiction and analyze them, you'll find that the main characters never change. Anita does have a very hard time changing her basic make-up, it's true, but when she eventually gets over her flaming shit-pile of emotional and personal drama, I'm at the point where I'm cheering and clapping my hands with relief. When she finally allows herself to use her hard-won powers, or isn't so squeemish about them, I'm very pleased to see some fucking awesome fireworks. That's the point. I've watched a lot of anime, and watching Anita Blake go otherworldly is as great as some of the really messed-up shit over on that little island in the pacific.

Honestly, when I was first reading the series, it was the first of its kind in my knowledge. Urban Fantasy in general might have been around before, but I hardly credited Lestat for starting it. This marks the 20th anniversary of Anita Blake, and I think the series could have grown into something greater than any other, if it hadn't gone all porn on us. Still, I think about what has been accomplished, if I ignore the porn, and I think about how great the series is.

The middle books were the worst for the porn, but thank god she's moved away from it and back to the complicated mix of genres she started with. I find myself daydreaming and consider writing a fan-fiction of her stuff. You know how so much fan-fic throws a boatload of odd sexual encounters into an established storyline? I fantasize about killing off all of Anita Blake's lovers and put her on anti-depressants to reduce her sex-drive chemically. Force her to feed on anger instead of sex, as she does now. Have her bind every freakin vampire in the world under her necromancy, raise all of the world's dead, and make her start a war against an army of wholesome demons pouring in from a rift in the netherworld. That way I can get my fix of Anita without too much A: Personal Drama... when she sees a problem, she's a bullet. She can cry about her loss off-screen after the book. B: Gratuitous Sex Scenes... her 40 to 50 regular lovers are all dead because of the demons, the whole world is full of rage, what is an energy vampire supposed to do now? C: Did I mention personal drama? I want ACTION out of this character, because that's where she shines and shines.

Ending tirade now. Yes, I gave this 4 stars, because the good really does outweigh the bad, and I'm flexible enough to enjoy a story based on what the author was originally intending, despite my personal preferences.

One last thing: I might have enjoyed this book a little more if the final action wasn't as quick, more impressively mind-blowing. I'm just saying. It's hard to keep all of the other books out of my mind, as well, when I'm in the middle of the series. NO ONE would know what the hell was going on without reading the previous ones.