Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2018
I hadn’t read the last two books… actually I stopped reading the last two books about 20% in because I completely lost interest in them that fast- so when the chance arose at an early copy of this one I figured: what the hell, maybe there’s been some changes and improvement. Maybe there’s been some actual developments, revelations and repercussions from these character choices and events.
Let’s put it this way: No.
Remember all the buildup for the plot of Bullet? That assassins were gunning for Anita and the crew, and even Belle Morte was high-tailing it as fast as she could, only for the book to be about everything else but assassins? How a story featuring cold blooded killers only dedicated about 19 PAGES right smack in the middle to said murderers? How the synopsis ended up getting revised because turns out there were virtually no assassins in the book, and would’ve been false advertising to keep saying it was all about them? Well, if that was your gold standard for storytelling, if that muck thrilled you to the stars and back- boy, has Laurell got a story for you now!
I’ll give her credit; it took some serious gall to write this. She had a lotta nerve pulling this stunt again. In a 500 page book about cursed snake people, they get mentioned in the beginning, referred to in the middle-ish and never brought up again until the finale. Take one guess what’s on the rest of the dead trees sacrificed for this drek. You got it: relationships and all the baggage they come with!
*** Mini-Spoilers Ahead***
There ain’t a K-Drama in the world that can hold a candle to this! It’s everything all the other Anita Blake books have given you the past fifteen years, yet somehow less. The paint by numbers scenes of gratuitous boob/crotch flashing, jellus haterz who deep down want to be just like Anita, hawt zexxy zex with the sweeties, fifty pages to leave town, forty pages to get to the hotel from the airport, recycled & rehashed pissing contests with cops, identifying friends from enemies by their boob size and curves, bad guys who suddenly can’t function without literally giving themselves away, rushed & compressed ending with tons of exposition in order to get back to the real story- troo wuv with the boyz. It’s all there, y’all! Knock yourselves out… or at least get a friend to do it. Not so messy that way.
The one real surprise is the return of a character we hadn’t seen in a while- Olaf. And despite being as boring and repetitive as everyone else, still manages to be creepy and somehow able to sneak a bit into Anita’s good graces. In hindsight, an appearance from him is overdue but under the circumstances you wouldn’t expect him to be there, which makes the reason for his being there utterly contrived. But given the implausibility of everything else, why the heck not? Toss in Bernardo Spotted-Horse and it makes for a reunion of the Four Horsemen, which could’ve been a tour de force, but instead plays like an investigation by Scooby-Doo & the gang. Because, yeah- the baddie would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling U.S. Marshals and their were-buddies.
By the time Hamilton returns to the supposed mystery/curse to solve, you flat out won’t give a flip because it hasn’t mattered in so long you forgot all about it. Far more important are the sudden appearance of Donna’s jellusy about Anita’s special bond with Edward, Donna’s BFF Dixie’s seething jellusy about the wedding, the cadre of bimbos jellus about Anita’s men, Olaf’s jellusy about Anita boitois… you might be sensing a theme here. Jellusy even has a place in the motives of the bad guy- go figure!
Another theme is Hamilton’s ridiculous fixation with superhero metaphors. Man, did she just love comparing Edward/Ted to Batman/Bruce Wayne; even Superman/Clark Kent a few times just to mix things up a bit.
No LKH novel would be complete without the sheer idiocy that’s Anita & Co- in both the classic and contemporary sense of the word. Early on they ask a particular character if they know anything about the snake curse; they deny it, only to discover in the end just how much they did know. Why such pertinent info was withheld is neither explained nor explored- just tossed in to avoid thinking something else up.
In the midst of an investigation into some missing women, Anita & co. come in contact with someone who’s obviously tied to the disappearances, but just plain fail to alert anyone about this in time to prevent other problems. Why? Why ask why.
There’s really not a lot to say about Serpentine-all the endless inanity, vapidity, vulgarity, insanity, mendacity, fragility… It’s just plain bad, lazy, dull, self-indulgent, writing. The usual, but somehow worse.
Sorry for the lack of snark. But I got nothing for this thing.