Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
A brutal murder, a suspect in jail, and an execution planned, but what if the wrong person is about to be killed?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When a fellow U.S. Marshal asks Anita Blake to fly to a tiny community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on an emergency consult, she knows time is running short. When she arrives, there is plenty of proof that a young wereleopard killed his uncle in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. As the mounting evidence points to him, a warrant of execution is already under way.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But something seems off about the murder, and Anita has been asked for her expert opinion on the crime scene. Despite the escalating pressure from local cops and the family’s cries for justice for their dead patriarch, Anita quickly realizes that the evidence doesn't quite add up.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Time is against Anita, as the tight-knit community is up in arms and fear against supernaturals is growing. She races to uncover the truth and determine whether the Marshals have caught the killer or are about to execute an innocent man—all in the name of justice.

624 pages, Hardcover

First published August 4, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Laurell K. Hamilton

204 books23.5k followers
Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the leading writers of paranormal fiction. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Hamilton writes the popular Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels and the Meredith Gentry series. She is also the creator of a bestselling comic book series based on her Anita Blake novels and published by Marvel Comics. Hamilton is a full-time writer and lives in the suburbs of St. Louis with her family.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,038 (40%)
4 stars
2,168 (29%)
3 stars
1,462 (19%)
2 stars
536 (7%)
1 star
268 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,185 reviews
Profile Image for Lorena.
1,003 reviews178 followers
January 5, 2022
This novel represents a bold move by Laurell K. Hamilton, for in its pages, you will find absolutely nothing to appeal to any remaining fans of the series. Are you still reading them for the over-the-top sex scenes? There are absolutely none in this book. I repeat - ZERO SEX IN AN ANITA BLAKE BOOK. Do you want to see Anita kick some ass and solve a mystery? Well, she kicks no asses, and she totally fucks up the super-obvious mystery and kind of ruins everything. I repeat - ZERO ASSES KICKED, MYSTERY FUCKED UP. Are you still reading because you are still fond of some of the characters? Anita spends almost zero time talking to or interacting with anyone whose name you might recall from any previous book. Jean-Claude? Micah? Nathaniel? NOPE. Instead, you get endless scenes of Anita trying (and failing) to solve the obvious mystery in the company of some other random Marshal who I guess maybe we met briefly in another book, but who was not (and is not) memorable enough for his inclusion to have any kind of emotional resonance. And when she's not doing that, she's having creepy scenes with serial killer Olaf/Otto, with occasional input from her buddy Edward/Ted. These scenes all focus on whether Anita should "date" Olaf, and they are amazingly uncomfortable, disturbing, and generally all-the-way-fucked-up in terms of their gender politics and understanding of how relationships work. So that's what we're working with, here.

First of all, let's start with the fact that Hamilton has clearly done a lot of therapy over the years regarding her anger, her sexuality, and her guilt over all of the above, and this is all chronicled directly through the mouth of the character of Anita. Hence, Anita has grown as a character on these issues. However, one issue that Anita/Laurell seem to have made ZERO progress on is their deeply ingrained misogyny. Let me give you one quote from the book, that sums up Anita's attitude throughout:

"Welcome to girl world, where there are no friends and all that matter [sic] is who's more attractive and who gets the man. I was glad for the umpteenth-millions time that I hadn't been indoctrinated into typical girl culture."

Just...where do you even start with that? Anita/Laurell are very focused on being a "guy's girl," who doesn't care about "girly stuff," with absolutely zero understanding that they are happily participating in their own devaluation and the devaluation of women as a whole. It's a tiresome but constant theme throughout the entire series, and it's disappointing to see it here...again...still.

This all plays into the issue with Olaf, a clinical sociopath serial killer who is obsessed with Anita, and wants to make her his one and only "real" girlfriend and not yet another one of his torture/rape/murder victims. First of all, this is probably one of the more extreme examples in this series of the "Anita isn't like OTHER girls, she's SPECIAL" song and dance. Even serial killers who are incapable of feeling emotions can't help but notice how special and deserving of respect she is! Second, Anita and Edward have been aware of this issue for a while, and had apparently developed this "plan" of sorts, whereby Anita will string Olaf along and make him think she might eventually date him, because if he doesn't think she will, he will for sure try to murder her and everyone she knows, and they will have to kill him first before he does that. And the only reason they haven't gone ahead with the "kill the crazed and creepy serial killer/stalker" plan so far is that Olaf is occasionally useful for plotting purposes where you need a bad character tortured or killed but you don't want to sully one of the nominally "good" characters with those actions.

So now, in this book, Olaf is making a determined effort to actually be the kind of person Anita would want to date, by having endless conversations with her about the notion of consent, and what even are emotions, and exactly how much violence Anita likes in her sex life, and Anita...is kind of into it? Which is so, SOOOOO GROSS. And also sooooo problematic, because Anita's main issue is that once Olaf has made any kind of effort at all to listen to her when she sets a boundary, she immediately spirals into "he's trying, so I have to give him more chances, even though I don't want to, because if I didn't reward him for trying to be sort of nice and slightly less murdery (of me in particular), that wouldn't be FAIR, so I guess I might have to actually go through with dating/sleeping with him because it's what HE wants and now he's asking nicely, so what choice do I really have?" HA HA HA remember that thing I just quoted about how glad Anita is that she wasn't ever socialized to be like other girls? Yeah. Ha. Except for the part that this is the exact logic misogynists like to use to try to manipulate women into dating them, and that women are socialized to find plausible, for some reason. The idea that you don't owe someone a date just because they refrained from doing something that you asked them not to do or did do something that falls well within the realm of expected human behavior seems to be entirely foreign to Anita/Laurell. Like, I mean, this guy is LITERALLY A SERIAL KILLER, but the fact that he didn't put his hand on your knee in public a second time after you asked him not to do it one time a few minutes ago now means that, whelp, he tried, now you HAVE to give him a chance? HOW ABOUT NO. Of course, that won't work here, on account of the whole SERIAL KILLER thing, so Anita and Edward spend a ton of time agonizing over whether she sleeps with Olaf or they kill him instead, as these are CLEARLY the only options, and are only saved from having to make a decision on this by the fact that the case they have been "investigating" goes seriously sideways and comes to a sudden end because they have been so caught up in their ridiculous bullshit that they missed the solution that has been obvious throughout the book, and Olaf disappears to track down the obvious baddy and do the convenient plot thing where he cleans up Anita's mistakes in a way that maybe the reader is supposed to see as "justice" but would be too gory for Anita to mete out herself.

Other things that grated throughout the book:

1. There is apparently a big push in Anita-world to change the terminology from "were-whatever" and "lycanthropy" to "therianthropy," because "lycanthropy" technically just refers to wolves and "therianthropy" is more inclusive language (why it is problematic to refer to someone who changes into a leopard as a were-leopard or someone who changes into a bear as a were-bear is never explained). Anita makes several comments throughout that seem to indicate that she thinks this is PC bullshit and that it's going to be too hard for her to remember this new terminology after a lifetime of referring to it as lycanthropy. The parallel to real-life marginalized communities and their preferred language is unmistakable, and it's gross.

2. And yet, Anita/Laurell is SUPER-specific in her language when referring to particular kinks and polyamorous relationship structures, so I guess the lesson here is "I will be offended if you are not familiar with/don't use my community's preferred language and terminology, but I can't be bothered to learn about the preferred language of your communities, because that's tedious." OK then!

3. Anita/Laurell is still super-judgey about weight and who is and isn't working out to her standards. There is a LOT of body-shaming throughout the book. Just another shining example of how Anita/Laurell isn't like other girls, who are conditioned to be vastly concerned about body image...

4. Something about this book, in particular, makes it obvious that Hamilton has zero clue how to pace a story anymore. I read an ebook version, so I have no idea how many "pages" it's supposed to be, but it feels like another door-buster that is twice the length of the early books in the series. You know, the ones where there was a basic mystery plot that proceeded in roughly linear fashion? Instead, you have a whole lot of nothing going nowhere fast. The case in this book sets up an important legal question about the rights of supernatural creatures, and loopholes in the Marshal system, and it dwells endlessly on the fact that these issues exist...and then goes precisely nowhere with trying to resolve them. The "investigation" is constantly derailed by pointless and boring conversations. There are literally pages upon pages where the characters have a conversation in which they decide they need to have a conversation, and then argue at length about where to have the conversation, and how many of them will participate in the conversation, before getting to the ultimately pointless second conversation. As you can imagine, this has the effect of draining any sense of urgency out of the investigation process/mystery. Which is probably partly the point, since, as I have mentioned, it's obvious Who Done It almost immediately to the reader, and the book would have been about 2 chapters long if it was only about investigating the case in a competent way.

All in all, this book feels like an enormous FUCK YOU to the readers of this series. Is Hamilton just sick of it? Is she courting the negative reviews so she has an excuse to throw in the towel, while blaming an ungrateful fan base? It's honestly hard for me to imagine even her most die-hard fans finding something redeeming in all of this. But then again, it's 2020, and nothing makes any damn sense anymore, so I guess I'll just sit back and see how the rest of the reviews shake out once this is officially released.
Profile Image for Dichotomy Girl.
1,988 reviews130 followers
Shelved as 'no-thanks'
May 27, 2020
How has Anita's vagina not fallen out and killed her by now?
Profile Image for PamG.
790 reviews460 followers
April 19, 2021
There is no doubt in my mind that Laurell K. Hamilton could write almost any genre of book, not just the supernatural romantic suspense / paranormal and urban fantasy novels that she is well known for. Sucker Punch is more of a supernatural suspense police procedural blended with a very uncomfortable romantic suspense story. It is the twenty-seventh book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. This time, the main setting is in the fictional town of Hanuman, Michigan. U.S. Marshal Winston Newman has asked for Anita’s help. Both are U.S. Marshals with the Preternatural Branch. Bobby Marchand, a cat-based lycanthrope, is accused of killing his uncle Ray, the only father he has ever known. While the evidence points to Bobby and a warrant of execution is already under way, something seems off about the murder.

This book focuses on the investigations of the marshalls, the state police, and the local sheriff’s department for a large part of the book. However when Anita’s long term friend, Marshall Ted Forrester and another marshall, Otto Jeffries show up, the story gets blended with several agonizing interactions between Anita and Otto.

Whether it is Anita’s relationships with the many men and women in her life, the relationships between Anita and her co-workers, or relationships between the local police and the U.S. Marshals; there is a lot of drama. This is not like most of the books in the series where there are a lot of steamy scenes. Besides the specific murder case, this novel is about how Anita is struggling personally with metaphysical changes that are affecting her ability to do her job effectively, and how she is struggling with all of the various types of relationships she has at the moment. It was interesting to see some additional character development with Otto; scary though it was.

There are a lot of themes running through this novel including anger management, various phobias, verbal abuse, racism, gender bias, lies, deception, the paranormal justice system, and much more. There is also a look at what can happen when police know both the victim and the accused.

Overall, this book was a study of paranormal police investigation and complicated relationships with suspense and occasional action intermixed.

I have read all of the books in this series up to this point and can’t wait to start the next one. They are best read in order as there is a lot of background and character development that builds over time. This novel is definitely a departure from the previous books in this series. However, the author continues to bring great characters, entertaining and unique story lines, action, suspense, and romance together in her novels.

I own a digital copy of this novel. This is my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and are not biased in any way. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
Profile Image for Diamond L.
34 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2020
I just gave Laurell K. Hamilton two stars. What is going on? I usually love LKH, but not this time. I felt like I was being dragged through mud. When I first started the Anita Blake series I was hooked. It had excellent plot, wonderful characters, and was overall just great storytelling. After awhile the series turned into porn with a sprinkling of plot and became incredibly repetitive.

But, I was holding out hope for this one because in her last few books she was getting back to basics; back to having plot. While this one did have a plot, it was put as a backdrop for Anita to constantly overanalyze every single person, place, or thing. I swear that if I had to read, "What do you mean? or What does that mean?" all defensively every two paragraphs again I would've thrown my kindle at the wall.

Never have I been so disinterested in an Anita Blake novel. This book could've been cut in half by just taking out the descriptions of the nurse's haircut, or how fluffy the pancakes were. There were pages dedicated to just plain unnecessary filler. While it was refreshing to not be bombarded with sex scene after sex scene, I sure could've used at least one to stave off the boredom. And yes, you read that right. There was not one single sex scene. That's pretty unheard of for Anita Blake.

I got through around forty percent of the book when I turned to my mother and sighed. I explained how it was going so slow, but that I was still holding out hope that it would pick up because Olaf and Edward were involved. I thought that maybe this would be the book where the culmination of Olaf's sociopathic tendencies being tempered by his pursuit of Anita would become too much. That he would finally break and force the long-awaited death match between the three that we've all been waiting for. But alas, no. Just Anita ping-ponging with her conscience about being scared, angry, worried, angry, horney, and you guessed it, angry.

Truthfully, I should've given this a one star rating, but somehow I still hold onto that thread of hope that the next book will be closer to her books in the beginning of the series. She's getting back to some plot, but it's a shadow of what it was, of what it could be. I'm too invested in this series to give up on it, but throw me a bone here. I want to like it.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for releasing this ARC to me in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for OutlawPoet.
1,184 reviews70 followers
June 5, 2020
I…don’t know what to do with this.

I’d stopped reading LKH a few years ago. At the time I stopped, the books felt like 20% plot and 80% icky sticky orgies. I was bored.

But when I was offered a chance to read this, I was curious. Maybe something had changed. Maybe Anita was back to being a monster hunter. I decided to give it a try.

Keeping in mind that I’ve been away from the series a while, and I’m really not aware of what’s happened in recent books, but this…is weird.

There’s no sex. Zip. Zero. None. There’s sexual tension, but no icky sticky. If you love the icky sticky, you may want to stay away from this one. If that’s what made you stop reading it, you may want to try again.

There’s an honest to goodness plot! LKH has given us a pretty solid murder mystery plot, while I figured out the *who* pretty early, I was invested in the *why*.


You also have new PC terms for various types of shapeshifters and I was sooooo confused. I can’t even remember them now. My mind mentally stumbled every time Anita would talk about therio-somethings and ailu(um)-somethings and not-bipeds-but-something-similar-somethings.

You also have Olaf. Now, I kind of like Olaf in a makes-me-very-uncomfortable-to-admit kind of way. But Olaf in this book is…extra. Olaf (you know rapist sociopathic serial killer) + Anita might make you very uncomfortable in this book. And if it doesn’t, please stay over there and don’t come near me – ‘cause you kind of scare me.

I already mentioned the lack of sex, but you do have a very boring scene that feels about 10,000 pages long in which a bunch of character gather in a room and read off a laundry list of Anita’s sexual kinks. It’s a very unsexy scene.

I just don’t know who the book will appeal to. If you like the shifter sex shenanigans, you might be disappointed. If you like not thinking of rapists as hot, you might be disappointed.

Yeah, it’s just weird.

*ARC Provided via Net Galley
Profile Image for Brittany Smith.
233 reviews228 followers
September 5, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.

I didn’t go in expecting greatness (or decency, or any kind of remotely positive term to describe it) from an Anita Blake novel. The series is far past “going downhill” and has steadily been at rock bottom for the last 15 books, at least.

The same issues with previous novels reoccur in Sucker Punch: the ridiculous explanations of each character and their extensive relationship to Anita any time they’re mentioned, focusing on irrelevant, skim-worthy details for several long paragraphs, repeating the same lines/ideas we’ve seen in previous books over and over again, the rampant misogyny Anita carries around with her and how she treats/describes any female character she comes in contact with, how Anita is 32 years old and still says the “I’m not like other girls, I’m one of the guys” which is frankly pitiful and laughable, but if you guys are still reading this series like I am, I shouldn’t need to continue.

This novel takes Anita to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to help with a US Marshal case. A were-leopard may or may not have been framed for the murder of his rich adopted father. We see Marshal Win Newman, and then Edward/Ted and Olaf/Otto. Anita is fighting the time limit of the execution warrant to try to discover the truth behind the murder.

I don’t usually read the in-between novellas, just the actual books, so I sometimes will miss out on things, but this book randomly introduced new official terminology for shifters and is used throughout the novel. Twenty-whatever books in and they decide to change the terms NOW? It felt useless to me. Don’t try to fix what isn’t really broken.

I will say I’m surprised that there wasn’t A SINGLE SEX SCENE in the entirety of the novel. Not even a gratuitous emergency ardeur feed. Nothing.
With previous books having more sex than plot, I’m shocked and would usually consider that a good thing, but I’m disappointed to say that this book had no sex AND no plot.

Most of the actual conflict and content of the book was Anita debating moral dilemmas with various characters: Newman, Olaf, Edward, etc. There was so much dialogue about all these emotional conflicts and truly nothing else happened in the novel. As with all other Anita Blake books, the concept and plot of the novel is forgotten for weird, irrelevant stuff (usually sex, but this time it was replaced with the morals) and only comes back to play in the last 5% of the book in a huge rush.
All the rest of this series is terrible, but Sucker Punch was truly so bad, so numbingly boring, that it had me wishing there were the gratuitous sex scenes.

In the overall arc of the series, I don’t think anything of importance happened in this book at all, so I’d recommend just skipping it. There weren’t any developments with Anita’s impending marriage to Jean-Claude or any of her other relationships (Nathaniel, Micah, Nicky, etc) at all. So this book really had ZERO impact on the course of the series. Consider me reading this and reviewing this a favor so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Edit: I just went to a bookstore yesterday and saw that it’s been published and the hardcover is MASSIVE. FOR WHAT?!?!? NOTHING HAPPENS I PROMISE YOU.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
September 12, 2020

Anyone who has kept this series knows they can expect a certain amount of craziness of one kind or another. If you've kept up with these books, you know that the first ten-ish books were classic awesome UF that's bloody, interesting, and quirky. From then on, the books continue in this vein but take on a decidedly different personal turn. I'm talking about the polygamy.

I'm one of those that appreciates the message without not particularly caring about the cause. Sure, you can love whomever you want, with as many as you want. Check. But I kept with the series mainly because when all the earlier strict UF police procedural, thinly-veiled commentary about sexual activism as vamps and weres was said and done, the stories were just FUN, FAST, and FURIOUS and often OTT when it comes to the action and magic bits. To me, they were the gold standard, and when LKH focused on that, I was always as happy as could be. I wasn't in it for the neverending sex or the full-stage production of multiple deep relationships that made my head spin and my care-o-meter break.

So many of these middle books broke my care-meter. But the great stuff was great, so I kept going.

Fast forward to today. I think LKH is changing direction, or DID change direction in the main plot and concern, for this book. I was used to her focusing on sexual issues for so long that I almost missed how she had become TIMELY in a different way.

Legal Rights for the people who are disenfranchised. I'm talking about systemic racism. Injustice at its very core. What if there is reasonable doubt, but custom (in the guise of law) dictates that you must treat a whole people like animals?

In this case, it's literal. It's a wereleopard who must be "put down" but there's serious doubt that he did it. Anita has gone through this kind of thing too many times and it just happens to be this case that nearly breaks her. She pulls out all the stops to save him, calling in the calvary, and I actually appreciate this.

This isn't a book that's all about the blood and guts, raising zombies, or playing dominance games (much). It's about taking that first and hardest step toward JUSTICE when you see that there IS NONE.

And like reality, there are no easy answers. There is only the fight.

As for the sub-plot with Olaf... well... we can't win everything, but I appreciate the fact that there was NOT a total overabundance of millions of romantic partners this time. In fact, there was practically no sex at all. It was pretty much... a RETURN TO THE EARLY DAYS.

Me, personally, I LOVED the early days. With the timely new focus? I love this one even more.
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,705 reviews286 followers
December 6, 2020
Ok so this one wasn't as horrible as I expected it to be. And guys, you're going to be shocked but there was no sex in it! I know, I was completely baffled as well. I mean, there was ALOT of talking about it but that was all. Mind blown.

Anyway, this book was about Anita doing her Marshall duties. When she's called to assist a fellow Marshall in what should be a legal execution, she's quick to pick up that there's more to this case than meets the eye. It was really nice to see Anita getting back to her police roots but honestly, I don't think the character can maintain that job for much longer. She brings way too much baggage to each case now - not to mention the entourage she has to travel with. But the mystery surrounding the case, while very easy to solve, was nice to get lost in.

What I wasn't fond of was the Olaf storyline. I'm so tired of this character. It's beating a dead horse at this point. Anita keeps saying she won't date him but pretends to be interested to keep him from killing her. But yet, she's drawn to him so she can't just flat out kill him. I hate it so much. And now Edward seems to be changing stances. Like just get the character out of the series somehow. He's even worse than Richard at this point and that's saying a lot.

These books are very guilty pleasures for me. I complain about them but yet I keep reading them. Hamilton does need to end the series because it seems like she's running out of ideas and spends half the book just talking about all of Anita's relationships. We already know this. We are 27 books in now, we don't need to be reminded of everything every time. I can guarantee you, no one is picking this book up who hasn't read the entire series.

So overall, an okay book. The case was the best, anything that personally related to Anita was a mess.
Profile Image for Mhiz James.
1 review1 follower
Want to read
May 20, 2020
I want more of Jean-Claude and Anita ONLY. No Nathaniel no Micah no Nicki. Please. And if there should be sex, just Jean-Claude and Anita ONLY AGAIN.
Profile Image for Katie R.
126 reviews
March 23, 2020
Predictions: we get 50 pages of describing secondary and tertiary characters. Even very specific shoe details. Whew. Serpentine was a lot.

Nathaniel turns into an even more demanding jerk because Anita and Micah won't do exactly what he wants, when he wants it. Anita puts up with this, even though she never would have from any other men on her life, or even Nathaniel 3 books or more ago.

The actual action will be 50 pages long, and the pages will be at the very end of the book.

Pages and pages of therapy between characters long forgotten. We *still* won't get much Jean Claude.

Anita will tell the story of how everyone told her she wasn't pretty at least once.

Now, my *hopes*:
Please, more Olaf. I love the suspense he adds. Anita tells Nathaniel to tone it down because she doesn't tolerate ultimatums. They actually move on with the wedding. Anita carves down the men in her life and gets some alone time. (There's a reason Obsidian Butterfly is my favorite Anita Blake novel).
Finally, that the library gets a copy fast, because I can't bring myself to pay the hardcover price for a declining series with a few bright spots.
Profile Image for Dianne.
1,541 reviews120 followers
August 1, 2020
3.5 stars rounded up.

What can I say but that I liked this book, but that I still had issues with it? The mystery was clever and twisty with your ideas of the 'who-dun-it' changing with each chapter. I could almost ignore the cons of this book, but I have to discuss those in all fairness. So here is what I'm going to do, I'm going to list the pros and cons to help you make your own decision.


Excellent mystery.

No sex. Unless you count kissing and a sort of girl on girl type action.

Interesting, and sometimes sympathetic characters (outside of Anita's usual men and women who were with her).

Otto/Olaf -not his usual self, and I see that his 'issues' will most likely be used to further the storylines of future novels. Otto/Olaf almost comes off as the White Knight at the end of this book.

Cons: (I only have a few, but they are HUGE!)

The repetition of specific conversations was enough to make my eyes roll my eyes so often that I nearly lost them out of my head. At least 100 pages (lol) might have been cut from this book if it were not for the dead horse beatings! We could have more of the mystery and mayhem!

I would have been a lot more pleased had we not discussed Anita's sexual preferences ad nauseam. I realize that this was to further a plotline that will most likely be used soon...but we shall see.

Does Anita really need that many men and women 'guarding' her?

Back to my review - This book is not like the first half of this series, but it leaned in the correct direction. It had a lot more emotion in it that the earlier books did not have. I had stopped reading this series at...oh... maybe book 20 and by the reviews and what I see in this book I'm glad I stopped. But I will say this book has tempted me to pull out my old copies of this series and reread it. This series has just turned into a vampire and were-animal copy of the Merry Gentry series. And with Merry Gentry, at least you knew what you were getting into -with this series not so much!

*ARC supplied by the publisher and the author.
September 11, 2020
This is a difficult rating and review because, while I liked this one much better than previous installments, many of the same LKH brand annoyances are accounted for.

Lengthy physical descriptions? Check.

Protracted pissing contests between Anita and caricatures of rural, conservative law enforcement? Check.

Sexist, borderline misogynist distinctions between Anita and “other girls”? Check.

Broad, biologically essentialist generalizations about men and women? Check.

Momentum slowing, boring and redundant infodumps designed to pad the word/page count and put country miles between each plot point? Check. Note also that the audible edition has a listening length of more than eighteen (18) hours.

Ill-timed relationship wangst? Check.

Epic metaphysical failures that threaten to compromise the investigation and undermine Anita’s status as the ultra-powerful heroine Queen? Check.

Anita embarrassing herself with unprofessional PDA during a murder investigation? Check.

Nathaniel nagging and manipulating Anita? Check.

Stupid continuity errors that simple editing would have fixed? Check.

And here’s a new one, Anita deferring to the authority of the horde of men who surround her, up to and including permitting subordinates to bully her into allowing them to tag along in the field.

Another new one is Anita’s treating Olaf like an abusive partner who must be placated and stroked at all times; she’s even employing rape-culture logic as a justification for enduring unwanted touching and kissing!

When she’s not protecting his feelings (this in spite of repeated reminders *from him* that he is a sociopath and thus has none), she’s running and hiding behind Edward, cough, I mean Ted and trembling in Olaf’s presence every time they talk.

For someone so smug about her “masculinity,” she’s awfully quick to play the helpless “girl” when it suits her.

Oh, LKH tries to slip in a couple mini feminist manifestos, but they all ring hollow in the face of so many tired romance tropes and sexist jibes at other women.
Now, for the most part, the mystery was well done, but LKH couldn’t help but weigh it all down with lengthy, pointless dialogue exchanges and internal monologues.

More importantly, either the police were hasty and sloppy or LKH is a lazy writer who couldn’t be bothered to craft a decent police procedural.

Why isn’t investigating a crime before “convicting” and “executing” a suspect the default course of action, even when said suspect is a “monster”?

Even if you consider the “special” laws for supernatural suspects, I can’t believe there wouldn’t have been an investigation.

IIRC, supernatural suspects go on trial and are executed almost immediately, but only after they’ve been found guilty of a crime. At least, this was the case in earlier installments. Maybe LKH forgot?

These people automatically decided the “killer” was guilty.

Why wouldn’t anyone go through the house the night of the attempted theft and take inventory of all of the family heirlooms?

Why wouldn’t the medical examiner have figured out that the injuries to the body weren’t caused by actual claws?

These weren’t pickle green cops but grizzled lawmen with years of experience under their gun belts; the mistakes and oversights border on “too sloppy to be realistic” territory.

See status updates for more specific, text-based gripes.
On the plus side, save a handful of steamy-ish moments, this one is sex free!

That’s right! No screaming, scratching, writhing, or “going” to be had.

Lastly, the climax, such as it is, is most definitely a sucker punch, one upon which the resolution does not improve.

Suffice it to say that for me, part of the draw of police procedurals is the vindication I feel when justice is finally done, particularly when someone has been wrongly accused and/or framed for a serious crime.

This is especially true in a race-against-time story, when the accused is due to fry for a capital murder that she/he didn’t commit.

That said, this move may be one of the most profound things LKH has ever done. How? Well, you’ll have to get out the other side of the tome to find out.

Ultimately, I’m semi-glad I didn’t blow this one off completely. Three stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shanna.
7 reviews
October 3, 2020
(1 extra star given for the lack of orgies in this installation)
Not exactly a review. Just a few notes on things that really annoy me about this series.
-Has Laurell Blake ever had an actual conversation with another human being? Really doubting that.
-No. Anita K Hamilton is definitely not like other girls, what with the combination of both extreme internal misogyny & toxic masculinity.
-What's with Anita's jealously of other women having perfectly styled hair? Just go to a stylist. She can clearly afford it. If not, one of her dozens of 'sweeties' would be happy to pay for it.
-So the international serial killer/rapist agreed not to touch your leg, so now you probably have to have sex with him? I don't think Olaf is the only one who doesn't understand consent....
-I keep forgetting that the accused murderer is a grown ass man in his late 20's/early 30's because Laurell Blake insists upon infantizing him. So I guess the only way we can be sure someone is innocent is if we forget they're a grown ass adult?
-Does Anita Laurell know the difference between autism & sociopathy? Kinda doubt that based on Olaf's characterization.
-Yeah, sure. An innocent man is about to be murdered because the law is stupid. But let's all sit around in this hotel room & discuss all of Anita K Hamilton's kinks. Because, priorities.
-if you immediately dry hump one of your lover in a parking lot as soon as they pull up, not caring about who may be watching, you don't get to be mad at people for judging you. PDA is gross enough for onlookers. What Anita Laurell does is so far beyond that....
-So Laurell Blake accidently rolls a stripper who threw herself in her lap & made out with her, but then Anita Hamilton prays to God, & God makes everything all better? Sure.
-The way Anita K Hamilton describes bdsm makes me feel like her real life polygroup isn't exactly into it. They're all middle-aged & pretend they're super into edgy sex because it makes them seem like they're super cool & hip....
-Sure, it's so super cool in a high school Goth phase kinda way that Anita & Edward are known as Death & War. But why are Olaf/Otto & Bernardo 'rarely seen plot device' Spotted Horse known as Plague & Famine? I feel like this whole '4 Horseman' thing wasn't all that well thought out...
-No spoilers, but good thing no one killed Olaf the plot device during the story so we could wrap things up nicely afterwards.
-I didn't think Laurell Blake could ruin Edward even more for me, but she came through. Good job I guess?
Up until Narcissus In Chains, this series was a pretty great example of urban fantasy. Then it devolved into masturbatory fantasy for bored housewives.
Profile Image for Monica.
518 reviews157 followers
November 2, 2021
Like most others, I was glad this book had some actual plot! Although we still spend WAY too much time talking about relationships, this story reminded me why I enjoyed Anita Blake in her early years.

It shocks me this is #27!! Decent story for those of us still hanging in after all these years!
38 reviews
June 25, 2020
First off, can we talk about this cover? If this is a new art direction for the Anita Blake series I am all about it. The tools were ok, but a little too heavy on the horror side, and the original covers sometimes made me hesitant to read the books in public places (side note: don’t be). This one finally seems to strike the right gothic-paranormal-horror vibe.

Second, if you haven’t read any Anita Blake yet, I do not recommend you start with this, book 27 in the series. Go back and start at the beginning if you like the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff or the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance.

Now to the content. I felt like Sucker Punch was a throwback novel in so many ways. It starts immediately with Anita on a case. There is no chapters-long introduction to each and every character, their status as human/vampire/shifter- ehhem, I mean therianthrope- and their relationship backstory to Anita. As a reader of past books, I might need a little refresher but not a full re-introduction to every person in Anita’s life (and you know there are a lot of them at this point). Twenty-six books of backstory is too much to try and catch readers up to. So. It was great not to have that.

The police work is the main plot and drives the story. Sucker Punch opens with Anita by herself, arriving in Michigan after being called as backup for another marshal. Yes, by herself on a plane. You know she loved that. But even deeper into the book, the cast of characters remains limited. Did that bother me? Not at all. It was a welcome change from some of the previous books, even though it meant not getting to see some of my favorite characters appear in this one. And for those of you who read Serpentine, don’t worry. That Sherlockian plot continues (*cackles evilly*).

I also got a chuckle out of the vocabulary struggles from some of our favorite preternatural branch marshals. It is no longer politically correct to say lycanthropy, because that implies wolf, and indicates a bias against all other shifter groups. The lesson here is to use inclusive language, which is something everyone should work towards, but I admit I found it funny to see this lesson applied to were-animals.

With the limited cast of characters, the amount of relationship drama is low, if you go by how many people that drama involves. It is deep, but not tedious. The relationship talk is sprinkled throughout the book, during car rides and over meals, instead of being one continuous scene that takes many chapters. I thought it was a more natural and more engaging way to read it. I stayed interested in the personal developments instead of being bored and wanting to throw things at the characters having these conversations. I thought Anita’s introspection was well done in this book. It fit with her character development arc and also the evolution of the story.

Compared to previous books, Sucker Punch has less shooting and less sex, and reminded me more of the early books when Anita primarily raised zombies for a living. It also highlights certain threads that will clearly be brought up in future novels: the wedding, children, Anita’s job as a marshal, and her relationship with other marshals.

Overall I really enjoyed Sucker Punch. I think fans of the older Anita Blake will find it a refreshing palate cleanser and I am curious where the story will go next. A solid entry into a great series. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
August 26, 2020
08/06/2020 Mini-Review:

666th Book Read in 2020

3 Stars for Narration by Kimberly Alexis
3.5 Stars for Overall Series Progression
1.5 Star for Case & Drama

666th Book - I've tried in the past to celebrate reading by reading a book in a particular style. Usually, I end up doing nothing because I didn't remember to keep an eye on what # of books I'm on. By chance & circumstance, this time I remembered and I thought it would be fun to read a spooky/creepy/horror story as the 666th book.

Does Sucker Punch fit? Eh. Olaf/Otto is a creeper f'er all by himself, and the situation between Anita & O does land on the edge of nightmares. So, it kinda fits.

Narration - Kimberly Alexis is a mid-range narrator. I recommend reading the book vs listening because the audio emphasizes negative aspects of the story. The narrator does not have the necessary skill set to perform a story with a big cast of characters. She doesn't fit Anita or any of the other characters in the story. It's just mediocre narration that doesn't add emotional layers or nuanced atmosphere.

Thoughts on Sucker Punch:
- There's no sex & that's ok.
- Lots of filler recaps & mental angst. The angst is all die hard Anita but the direction of said angst is crap for a story in progress. If you cut down on the summaries and angst, half of the page count would be gone in a stab of the delete key.
- Edward is great. There was not enough Edward.
- Olaf/Otto had way more character development than anyone else. He's a side character. I wasn't a fan of that aspect. I'm good going along with his progress as long as it is matched by actual development in Anita's. That did not happen.
- Good questions about the preternatural marshal service & how it can be manipulated to evil deeds by the 'normal humans'. Except that's been the case for a while now.
- Real life is messy. Cool. Most of the time, there's no such thing as a clear cut resolution in real life. Alrighty. I can go with the case being what it was, how it dealt with and ended. Sure. I am not okay with there being no answers, changes, transmutations, adjustments or light bulb moments of clarity with Anita. She has issues. That's part of the charm. Yet, nothing about her drama was actually dealt with, and I don't want to read about her sweeping her crap under the rug or ignoring it.

Anita Blake is flawed. That's why she makes a great anti-hero. I don't mind her having flaws. I do care that the biggest spotlight for the last few books are Anita's Drama. You can't even enjoy the fact that some of the issues have been settled and she has more good in her life than bad. It's like she's a hamster stuck running in a wheel and we have to ride along for the unending nightmare of miss-trials.

This is fiction. The core ideas & themes are good ones. A long series needs an active plot to progress. There's been very little progression in the overall arc. Only one big thing happened in this book and if it's not addressed in the next book, I will be highly disappointed.

08/05/2020 Thoughts Before Reading:

Got the audiobook on release day. Yesterday! Woo!

- One of the common complaints about the series is that there's too much sex. The fact that a bunch of people are ranting because there's less sex is kinda funny. It totally tickles my irony bone.
- Generally, I try to ignore the author working out real life stuff in their fictional stories. I do have a problem with it when it becomes a pile of smelly poo that drags the series down. I keep hoping for a solid story & less real life drama being attached. It usually works out?
- I never thought of the "cases" in the series as serious cases. They're more like backdrops to everything else that happens.
- No one knows why Edward is awesome. That includes me but I think he's pretty great. I'm okay with having a story focus on Anita & Ed and give the sexual relationships drama a tiny vacation.

Less sex & focus on one of big plot lines that has been building up for about half the series?
Sounds good to me.

- The relationships and sex scenes used to be a cool highlight of the series. Until every cool aspect was overdone by adding too many characters/etc. There should be more novellas to sort out some of the relationship issues vs trying to hash it out (with recaps) in each book. Sometimes, you just have to admit that Anita is not going to grow up on certain issues and just go with that. I think that point has been reached but we, the readers, won't find out for sure until the other books come out.

I still enjoy the series. Even if it jumps the shark and flails away from the actual plot line a few times.

Will start the book tonight. Otto is a freak. This book would TOTALLY work as the 666 book read. Hm. Maybe I should wait?

Sweet! I'll finish my current audiobook. That will be 665 and Sucker Punch can be my 666th. Hahahah! I love how silly & weird life can be.
August 18, 2020
Don’t bother. Unless you want to read a good cop bad cop paranormal story.

Supposedly a series but no more romance. No more sex. No more emotional love Story. No more jean Claude whom is almost an old memory now.

She was supposed to be protected. Where was Nicky? Where were her guards? How is she feeding now? Although lately it seems she miraculously doesn’t need to anymore.

A pack of BS.

LKH is redundant. She spent pages upon pages in cops details. Why she didn’t end this series long ago....... but again it pays her bills.

2 years to deliver a book I didn’t even finished.

Waste of time and money.

From now on, I will do what I never ever did before...... I will read the reviews to see if it is worth it...
Profile Image for Beth.
3,127 reviews261 followers
August 23, 2020
Laurel K. Hamilton has made a very bold move, she went back to roots of the original Anita Blake and wrote a strong mystery. The type of mysteries that made me fall in love with the beginnings of the Anita Blake series. I have to admit, I was one of those readers that had become pretty disenchanted by all the self- analyzing and analyzing the psyche of every character in the story without a strong story but I’m excited to say this wasn’t the case…and I was happily pleased.

Anita is called away from her main stomping grounds when she is called in by the U.S. Marshal as a consultant in a tiny community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A shifter is arrested for a murder and there is suspicion that he was being framed.

Throughout the investigation, Anita calls in for help and Edward comes into the story. Edward's and Anita's dynamics were one of my favorite storylines, so I have to admit this thrilled me…And then Olaf “the serial killer” – US Marshall – recently turned lion shifter stalks in. This is where it gets VERY creepy and if Anita goes there, I have to say this series will completely lose me! But for now, he (Olaf) is playing nice and assists investigation.

In the end, this was rather good like for me, 3.5. LKH went back to the roots of the storytelling and even though I am not a fan of Olaf and no matter how you spin it a serial killer will be a serial killer, I enjoyed this installment of the Anita Blake series.

I received this ARC copy of Sucker Punch from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review.

My Rating: 3.5 stars
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Book 27)
Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Berkley (August 4, 2020)
ISBN-10: 198480443X
ISBN-13: 978-1984804433
Genre: Paranormal Romance | Urban Fantasy
Profile Image for Yuli Atta.
538 reviews85 followers
July 31, 2020
Warning : strong language 😅🙈

Anita can't say No to anybody who wants to have sex with her.
The more i think about it, the more i realise that so many of her relationships have started because she simply wouldn't say no even tho she wanted to. Which makes me consider how many of her relationships are truly consensual.

For example, the only reason she got with Jean-Claude is because he was like: "if you're dating Richard, you can date me as well, ma petite, I'm your master... Ish" and so, she did even tho she didnt want to in the beginning. Jean-Claude was persuing her from the very first book, before she even saw vamps as beings with feelings or cretaures worthy of love, especially hers bc she's holier than thou and not like other girls.

Actually, I'll sidetrack for a bit and say that her not having any girl friends always bothered me and the one she did have in the earlier books got jealous of all the pretty men around anita.

The first time she met Micah they had sex and I've read on LKH's blog that many people have actually raised the issue of how questionably consensual that relationship was, to the point where she had to edit the next printing to include a "yes" line but she's also said that not all the copies have it. So, depending on the copy you have, you either have a consensual sex scene or a rapey one.

Anita didn't want to have sex with Nathaniel for a long time because of their age gap. I think that the only reason they actually ended up having sex in the first place was because they conveniently had to feed the ardeur.

Actually, i believe LKH uses the ardeur as an excuse. I know she's written about consent and who wants to be "food" and who doesn't but the fact is that we've had a lot of dubious scenes before and it would always be Anita's fault for not feeding herself properly (normal food i mean) or resting.

I don't even remember most of her other guy's names to give examples with them but the most recent one is Damien who is straight and that scene with him, Nathaniel and Anita when Nathaniel basically mind-fucked and literally fucked them both without consent. And suddenly Damien became bi.

And now we have Olaf who Anita either considers killing or fucking. LKH has always said that she feels uncomfortable when readers shil olaf and anita and yet... That's what she writes. Idk of she's doing fan-service or what anymore.
And anita and olaf have conversations about consent, which is good but whenever he does something good... Ish, she feels obliged to try dating him even tho she doesn't want to and while i understand this kind of feeling, if you don't wanna do it, don't. She is usually surrounded by a bunch of guards, so you can't tell me that all of them buff teriantropes (or whatever the new terminology is) can't protect her and her loved ones from Olaf if he came after them

Also, something that got me very annoyed in the beginning was how she complained that Nathaniel's reminder to call him was him nagging her... When she's known to forget that when she's deep into work. She said it felt like a chore. Well, i think that when your relationship feels like a chore, it's a sign that you have to end it and Nathaniel has been a way bigger drama queen than usual so I'd get it, but that text message wasn't nagging but a kind reminder from the person who loves her 🤷🏻‍♀️

I can't really talk much about the plot bc i skimmed the majority of it and compared to other times it was so so boring. To me it looks like in this book LKH tried to do everything that fans have been asking her to for years all at once - less sex, so there's none, more olaf, so there's a lot from him and more edward, so more of that. But i think that in her effort to satisfy everybody she kimd of failed...

There are also other problematic things I've noticed in the books as of late but i simply don't want to get into them. It saddens me that after loving this series for such a long time, I've finally started to see all its flaws.

I'd also leave this review unrated bc I more or less dnfed this but i have to give it a rating for NetGalley.

I'm grateful for the eARC provided by NetGalley.
and the publisher.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,685 reviews458 followers
December 15, 2020
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I have been a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton for a very long time. I live in the same area as the author so I have been lucky enough to go to quite a few bookish events and have waited hours to get my book signed more than once. Over the years, I have been distracted by other books and authors and have missed some of the books in this series but I would still consider myself to be a fan. It pains me to say that I didn't enjoy this book.

This book takes Anita out of town to help deal with shifter involved murder case. I will say that I have had mixed feelings about some of the books that take Anita away from the cast of characters that are a part of her world at home. That being said, I tend to love books that include Edward, which this one does, so I was hopeful. Unfortunately, it felt like next to nothing happened in this entire book. There is a lot of talking but that is about it. The case seemed really easy to figure out and I had hoped that there would be some kind of surprise that would change everything but that never happened.

So what did they talk about? They overexplained a lot of things through different conversations but it seemed like the bulk of the discussions focused on Olaf/Otto. Olaf is a U.S. Marshal, like Anita, but in his free time, he is a serial killer. He has his sights set on Anita and wants to have a relationship with her instead of just wanting to kill her. Anita is not quite as eager but instead of saying no and moving on, they go on and on about what he would need to do to date her. It was agonizing.

I thought that Kimberly Alexis did a great job with the narration. I do think that her narration was one of the reasons that I was able to finish this book. She did a great job with all of the character voices and I found her voice to be very pleasant to listen to.

I wouldn't recommend this book to others. I am not throwing in the towel with this series just yet but I wish that I had skipped this book. I found this book to be rather slow and lacking any real excitement. I do have hope for the next installment in the series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,457 reviews29 followers
July 25, 2020
I was given a copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

No sex. Really. This is an Anita Blake book without any on page sex. It’s an out of town police procedural with an edited cast - and it’s really rather good.

As much as I do enjoy a good supernatural orgy, I also love Anita’s growth in her role as a US Marshal. This book is more of a conventional murder mystery than anything I can remember previously in the series. Fans of the series will find the slightly Agatha Christie style investigation (including a mansion and a dysfunctional wealthy family full of suspects) fairly surreal. But I’d urge readers to give it a chance. I really enjoyed this.

I think the highlight of this book is the way it questions the ethics and morality of policing and the dangers of ‘othering’ communities to the point where the law considers a human life of more value than a supernatural life. I may be guilty of reading too much into this series from the start, but the questions Anita asks, the positions various law enforcement officers take and the various perceptions of justice in this story seem terrifyingly poignant at a time when America is grappling with racism, the ‘othering’ of very human communities and horrific police brutality. There aren’t easy answers here but there are some passages that really made me stop and think.

I always love the books which focus on Edward and Olaf and both are great here. And while we don’t get any on page sex - of course there are lengthy discussions and several long internal monologues explaining all of Anita’s preferences, proclivities and emotions. And while some of this is repetitive and tiresome, by book 27 readers either love Anita or they’ve given up on the series. Personally, I love the many twists and turns this series has taken and I've come to terms with my slightly unhealthy but completely unconditional love for Anita.
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 1 book152 followers
August 26, 2020
624 pages of what the *%#*

I’m loath to criticize where an authors muse has taken them however this should have been written as a novella, instead it’s two days of my life that I’ll never get back.

I’m a huge fan of this series, I’ve read them all 3 times, a month before this book was released I started them again so I could go right into the new one.

So we waited 2 years for the next book for what? I thought it would finally be for THE WEDDING. I really don’t understand what Hamilton hopes to accomplish in this book, for those of us that stayed with the series we obviously like the sex scenes and monster hunting right?There is literally zero sex in a book that’s over 600 pages about a women that lives/feeds on sex.

No Jean-Claude, no Micah, no Nathaniel, no monster hunting and pretty much the only violence will just break your heart.

Then add in Olaf. I thought when he entered at least we’d get some sort of conclusion for his and Anitas weird relationship but no we don’t even get that. Just more awkward and just plain weird inaction.

It’s an extremely long book where the characters stand around talking about the same thing in circles with an extremely unsatisfying end.

I very rarely give a book under 3 stars and giving an Anita Blake book 1 star... Seems sacrilegious so a generous 2 imo.

Is Hamilton changing the way she write because some fans don’t like the sex? Well what about the millions fans that have stuck with it and support her through it all?

I will buy the next book and pray that we get back to the action but I’m so disappointed in this book that I would return it if I could. I wish I hadn’t read this because I’m concerned that it’s going to spoil the series for me.
Profile Image for Erica Chilson.
Author 34 books431 followers
January 29, 2023
I received a free copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

5 Olaf Stars. Seriously, just give Olaf all the stars.

Olaf "Otto" Jefferies, the ultimate scene-stealer.

Sucker Punch is the 27th installment in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Can it be read as a standalone? No. Can it be read out of series order? Also no. Do you have to read the 26 installments prior? No. But I'd suggest you better have read around the first 20 or so.

Okay, so readers only want to know two things.

Is Sucker Punch an LKH erotic orgy of a sex-fest or a police-procedural? I'd add vampy politics to the list, but that generally goes hand in hand with the sex-fest.

Police procedural. Full stop. Angsty overthinking and too many in-depth conversations (but that is classic LKH) There was zero sex, not even metaphorical sex. You read that right. No sex. None. Nada. Just kissing. Mostly chaste kissing.

Are you feeling Sucker Punched by that? I know I was.

Does Edward "Ted" Forrester, aka Death, show up on scene?

Oh, yes! Mr. Mentor was there, more in the background. But his comforting, reassuring, mentoring, logical presence was a cool wash of sanity. Fingers crossed we see his family in the next installment. I want to see how Peter is growing up.

I won't go into detail over the plot, simply because it's a whodunit. A leopard is caught up in the murder of his uncle-pseudo father figure, and Anita and company try to discover the truth of who killed the billionaire patriarch, refusing to be used as the weapon employed by the true murderer to execute the person they framed, the person in their way to inherit billions.

Tons of back-and-forth cop posturing, which can become tedious. But it was so classic LKH that I loved every second of redundancy.

Now... onto the shock, probably the sucker punch, if you will, but I assume that twist at the end is the true sucker punch.


Olaf and Anita.

Olaf behaving.

Olaf the lion to Anita's lioness.

I've never experienced such a chaste Cat vs Cat hunt before, with Anita the prey to Olaf's predator. The sexual tension was off the charts, not smoldering but slow-burn that ignites. I want more. Gimme more, Laurell K Hamilton. Please, give us more.

Never thought LKH was hilarious, but I've spent hours chuckling in discomfort & second-hand embarrassment blushing, in a shocked combination of "Holy Hell, what am I reading?" and "How the Hell does Anita have such chemistry with Olaf, reminiscent of the first few books where she battled Jean Claude's creepy affections?"

What I didn't enjoy, other than the predicable mystery sleuthing (but it was fun in a frustrating sort of way) is that we didn't need Nicky to bring Ethan, Angel, and the others. Death, War, Plague and others were on the case, there was no need, not even metaphorically. Their intrusion was unnecessary, and it was more than a speedbump, more like a roadblock. It tore me from the story, took away most of the "What am I reading? excitement and just made it chaotic, with too many characters on scene, none of it necessary, muddying up the entertainment I was experiencing. I like Nicky, that's isn't it. It just wasn't needed and changed the pacing and the flow of the story.

(hands Olaf a couple more stars) I'm a sucker for a sociopath, especially since I'm his victim profile. Snort.

Highly recommended to Anita Blake fans, especially those who enjoyed the first ten novels in the series before Anita picked up the need to feed metaphorically through sex.
Profile Image for Gigi.
378 reviews14 followers
July 24, 2020

I've been on the hunt this year for a good vampire/werewolf story, but this..unfortunately, was not it. 🤦‍♀️

Having DNF'd Crave by Tracy Wolff, which starts off with a lengthy and boring scene at the airport, this wasn't much better.

The premise sounded promising, but ultimately it missed the mark for me. Sorry..

Thank you Netgalley & Berkley Publishing for providing me an ARC
Profile Image for BWT.
2,149 reviews215 followers
July 15, 2020
Told in first person POV, Sucker Punch finds U.S. Marshal Anita Blake flying to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for an emergency consult where time is running out on an execution order, and nothing is as it seems.

As Anita searches for answers and tries to figure out why nothing adds up, she's joined by Olaf and Edward who help as Anita races against the clock to try to find out who actually murdered a local billionaire, before they have to kill the leopard shifter they don't believe murdered his father.

With lots of twists, turns and betrayals, I feel like I should have been way more invested, but found the plot dragged until more than midway through, when it finally picked up, only to end pretty abruptly and without a satisfying ending (though I suppose one could argue Olaf gets a happy ending).

Contemporary, paranormal fantasy, with a twisty mystery that keeps the reader trying to unravel the mystery throughout.

2.5 stars

Advanced Review Galley copy of Sucker Punch provided by Berkeley Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
Profile Image for Marielle Authier.
570 reviews7 followers
August 11, 2020
I am done and not really sure what I think about it.

There are some good parts, close to no ego problem about Anita being a woman on the force and though less capable than a man. That was really refreshing (Yes there are some Cro-Magnon men, but making them all be that way is just ridiculous. Plus knowing all she can do and how capable she is, she should have more confidence in her to let it go) No real sex, just some tension, kissing and touching, though the ardeur and other metaphysical shit, still got a bit in the way, it was still nice, not to have pages of filler sex scenes to just fill pages. Plus, it did seems to indicate we would get a plot and a mystery, and we kinda, though I would have like it to be more the core of the story.

So, the book began strong, and we had a mystery, though later on it was obscure by drama for the sake of adding page time and stalling everything, even preventing them of doing a proper investigation, cause they were lost in drama metaphysics, and I was hoping we could do without that, but no, relationship talk *sigh*

While I was very happy there weren't much relationship discussion in the beginning of the book, it went downhill, in fact, so totally downhill I thought I was in a Twilight Zone episode In short, some of the reasons on the why they had relationship talk was more than just a little disturbing, and is, or at least seems unfinished, so this means there will be more to come in future books. *sigh*
Profile Image for Melissa.
159 reviews2 followers
August 12, 2020
I keep reading this series and I don't know why. I'm disappointed yet again. This book is more back to the paranormal murder mystery part of the series(which i k ow many readers asked for)...but there are so many other problems I had with the book that they took away from that aspect.

The OK (calling it good is a stretch) ...there was a marshal case that Anita had to go solve and Edward is there. And Nicky. The cover is gorgeous! The plot line pointing out some of the issues with the warrants of execution and the legal ramifications was good world building.

Other reviews articulated it better than I could but to give a brief overview of where I struggled.

After how many years of dealing with her arduer issues...she still hasn't figured out she has to eat regularly? I mean if someone had a condition where they had to take medication on a schedule but refused...it is almost self sabotage. And then to pout and get angry about it? 🤦‍♀️

And ALL THE TALKING TALKING TALKING...about the same thing in 33 different ways and with the same people? Your readers aren't that incapable...you don't need to spoon feed stuff and then beat them up with the spoon!

Anita's hangups about her sexual desires.

The fat shaming; only seeing people of value if the are visually stunning; parents, people of middle age, people who aren't in peak physical condition etc...we are all lesser in the author's (or Anita's) ; the girl code hatred...and lack of understanding of the issue.

Oh and the whole Otto/Olaf story line.

I'm not mad...just really disappointed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carrie (brightbeautifulthings).
821 reviews30 followers
September 28, 2021
Flash Book Review: Please just let my serial killer boyfriend have his flamethrower back.


Anita has flown into a small Michigan town to help a fellow U.S. Marshal with a case, and they have mere days to prove that a local wereleopard, Bobby, hasn’t killed his adopted father–although someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it look like he did. The problem is that supernatural murders come with a warrant of execution and no due process, so unless they find the real killer, they’ll have to legally execute an innocent man. It’s a race against the clock, but with War, Death, and Plague on the case, justice will be served–one way or another. Trigger warnings: death (on-page), incest, guns, violence, some gore, injury, mentions of rape/torture.

I was really digging this book at the beginning because it felt like a throwback to some of the earlier novels where Anita is investigating preternatural murders without her boyfriends hanging on her all the time. In fact, while a couple of them show up later, this novel doesn’t have a single sex scene in it. There’s just a little flirting with a stripper that gets out of hand (which, honestly, it’s really nice to see Anita flirting with women and exploring her bisexuality more) and the utter weirdness of Olaf trying to figure out how to date Anita, which is wildly uncomfortable. I enjoy him as a villain, but unlike Jean Claude, I can’t see him becoming a love interest.

Most of the book is dedicated to the case. The problem is the case isn’t one of her more interesting ones, and the book is Way. Too. Long. for just that. The characters spend so much time spinning their wheels, getting no new information, and repeating the exact same conversations. I sympathized with Win at first, but by the fourth or fifth time he bemoans the fact that he might have to kill someone he knows, I was pretty done with him. Unfortunately, even having Edward around doesn’t liven things up much. While there is a twist, I could see it coming a mile off, and the ending is less a sucker punch than a terrific letdown that made me wonder why I slogged through six hundred pages.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
587 reviews4 followers
March 21, 2023
Just 're reading this book before starting Smoulder, the latest book in the series. I really enjoyed this return to.form. The last several.books in the series were too much like introductory manuals into the polyamarous lifestyle and the sex scenes were not erotic but more a techical how to have sex with multiple people, which left up then feeling very cold and practical................. That's the negative and may I just say I have no problem with the poly element in the books Ms Hamilton creates very sexy characters and if I was Anita or Merry i couldn't pick just one either............ This book is an.out of town book where Anita is in her role of a Supernatural Marshal, called in by another marshal ,Win Newman who has an order of execution on a wereleopard but there's things about the case he doesn't like. Anita Shares his concerns, the execution warrant does not allow for time.to.investigate but must be carried out within 72 hours of issuing. The fact that the wereleopard might be innocent .......not a problem.. Then things the a bad turn Olaf turns up, Anita has never been without Ted around to protect her from Olaf so she's immediately on the phone to him wanting his backup. So we have a complex murder mystery, three of the four horsemen in the same place and are working against a deadline................ Can they uncover proof that Bobby March and is innocent, only finding the real killer has any chance of stopping the execution and even that's not guaranteed they may find the killer and still have to execute Bobby...........what a mess...............
Profile Image for Jeanny.
1,861 reviews142 followers
August 5, 2020
This book seems like the author’s response to the typical negative complaints this particular series garners:
Those who complained about an overabundance of sex in the series. No sex in this book.
Those who wanted to see a day in the life of Anita as a U.S. Marshal. We have a working executioner request Anita's assistance & expertise that takes up the entirety of the book. No down time no sleep just working on an extreme time limit.

2.5 stars

What I didn't like:
This book had some serious pacing issues. I was 25 chapters in bored to tears.
The mystery was overly obvious & the investigation was shoddy work.
A relationship between Anita & Angel seemed ludicrous. Last I remember JC described Angel as high maintenance. The devil admitted his twin was jealous of Anita being JC's priority & thought herself the prettier woman between the two. & Angel was going to dump Richard bc of his penchant for rough sex. At one point Angel was wondering if Anita's pussy was made of gold bc all the men wanted a sexual or romantic connection. Why would these two become lovers? Angel is juvenile, self absorbed, & petty.
The change of language between "Lycanthrope", "Lycanthropy", &/or "Ware-animal" Ex: Ware-Rat , Ware-Hyena etc. into the more inclusive PC version "Therianthropy". It's unnecessary & confusing as a reader. We're 27 books in & if the author wanted to be unique in the wareanimals names it should've been established earlier in the books. (I thought the author had already established "Lycanthropy" as her series' creative attempt at naming ware) The word choice itself is just difficult to decipher. Anita Blake series is not the only series I read & come next year I will have forgotten the term altogether. It's annoying.

****************SPOILERS BELOW****************
What I did enjoy:
Edward & Olaf.
I especially enjoyed any unsupervised interaction between Olaf & Anita.
I'm hoping Edward has lycanthropy. Preferably the Lion strain of the disease bc he'd make an amazing lion & we'd have more future reading material with Edward. I realize Edward becoming Anita's lion king or even her lion mate would be highly unlikely. If he catches lycanthropy at all he he'd be more likely to end up as a carrier same as Anita or even a Hyena. It'd also be interesting to see what would happen between his & Donna's marriage.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,185 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.