Kiss the Dead (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #21)

Kiss the Dead (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #21)

by Laurell K. Hamilton


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When a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to find her. And when she does, she’s faced with something she’s never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people—kids, grandparents, soccer moms—all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving a master. And where there’s one martyr, there will be more…

But even vampires have monsters that they’re afraid of. And Anita is one of them…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425247549
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/05/2012
Series: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series , #21
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family. Visit her website at


St. Louis, Missouri

Date of Birth:

February 19, 1963

Place of Birth:

Heber Springs, Arkansas


B.A., Marion College

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On TV, interrogation rooms are roomy and have big windows so that you can watch everything. In reality, the rooms are pretty small, and there are almost never big picture windows; that’s why real police footage is grainy and black-and-white, rather than Technicolor gorgeous. The interrogation room was painted pale beige, or maybe it was taupe, I’d always been a little fuzzy on the difference between them. Either way it was a bland color described by real estate agents as a warm neutral; they lied. It was a cold, impersonal color. The small table was all shiny metal, and so was the chair. The idea was that the prisoners couldn’t scratch their names, or messages, in the metal like they could have in wood, but whoever thought that had never seen what a vampire, or a wereanimal, could do to metal. There were plenty of scratches in the shiny tabletop, most done with just fingernails, superhuman strength, and the boredom of hours of sitting.

The vampire sitting at the small table wasn’t trying to carve his initials on anything. He was crying, so hard that his thin shoulders shook. He’d slicked his black hair back from his face in a widow’s peak that I was betting was a haircut and no more natural than the ink-black color.

He was mumbling in a tear-choked voice, “You hate me because I’m a vampire.”

I spread my hands flat on the cool metal table. My jacket’s jewel-tone blue sleeves looked too bright against the naked metal, or maybe it was the crimson nail polish. That had been for my date the night before; it looked out of place while I was U.S. Marshal Anita Blake. I counted to ten, to keep from yelling at our suspect again. That was what had started the crying; I’d scared him. Jesus, some people don’t have enough balls to be undead.

“I don’t hate you, Mr. Wilcox,” I said, in a smooth, even friendly voice. I had to deal with clients every day at Animators Inc.; I had a customer voice. “Some of my best friends are vampires and shapeshifters.”

“You hunt and kill us,” he said, but he raised his eyes enough to gaze at me between his fingers. His tears were tinged pink with someone else’s blood. His putting his hands over his eyes had smeared the tears around so that his face was trailed and marked with the drying pink tears. It didn’t match the perfectly arched black eyebrows, or the eyebrow ring that sat dull blue metal above his left eye. He’d probably done it to bring out the blue in his eyes, but at best they were a watery, pale blue that didn’t work with the dyed black hair, and the dark blue of the eyebrow piercing just seemed to emphasize that his eyes were too pale, and matched the pink traces of blood way better than the artificial additions. I was betting he started life as a white-blond, or maybe pale, nondescript brown.

“I’m a legal vampire executioner, Mr. Wilcox, but you have to break the law to bring me to your door.”

Those pale eyes blinked at me. “You can look me in the eyes.”

I smiled, and tried to shove it all the way up into my own dark brown eyes, but was pretty sure I failed. “Mr. Wilcox, Barney, you haven’t been dead two years yet. Do you really think your weak-ass vampire mind tricks will work on me?”

“He said people would be afraid of me,” and this was almost a whisper.

“Who said?” I asked. I leaned forward just a little, keeping my hands still, trying to be pleasant, and not spook him.

He muttered, “Benjamin.”

“Benjamin who?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Just Benjamin. The old vampires only have one name.”

I nodded. Old vampires had one name, like Madonna, or Beyoncé, but what most people didn’t know was that they fought duels to see who got to use the name. A powerful vampire could demand that another lesser vampire give up the use of a name he’d had for centuries, or fight for the right to keep it. I didn’t say that part out loud, because most people, even us vampire experts, didn’t know it. It was an old custom that was dying out as the modern vampires kept their last names, and duels were illegal now that vampires weren’t. Dueling was looked on the same under the law regardless of whether the participants were alive or undead. I would have bet a lot of money that this Benjamin wasn’t old enough to know the history behind vampires having only one name.

“Where can I find Benjamin?”

“I thought you were so powerful that no vampire could resist you.” There was a flare of sullen anger in his pale blue eyes. There was temper in there, under the tears.

“I would need a connection with him, someone who was metaphysically joined with him in some way, so I could follow the psychic connection. Someone like you.” I let the hint of threat ride into that last part.

He looked sullen and arrogant. “You can’t do that; no one can.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, and my voice dropped a little lower.

“You’re a U.S. Marshal, you’re not allowed to do magic on me.”

“It’s not magic, Barney. It goes under psychic skills, and law enforcement officers are allowed to use psychic abilities in the performance of their duties if they think that is the only way to prevent further loss of life.”

He frowned, rubbing one pale hand across his face. He sniffed loudly, and I pushed the box of Kleenex toward him. He took one, used it, and then gave me angry eyes. It was probably his hard look, but as hard looks go, it wasn’t. “I have rights. The new laws won’t let you hurt me without a warrant of execution.”

“And a minute ago, you were worried I’d kill you. Barney, you need to make up your mind.” I raised a hand and spread it flat in the air as if I were holding something he should have been able to see. “Am I a danger to you, or”—and I held up my other hand—“not able to hurt you at all?”

His anger sputtered down to sullenness. “Not sure.”

“The girl that Benjamin and the others took is only fifteen. She can’t legally agree to become a vampire.”

“We didn’t take her,” Barney said, indignant, slamming his hand on the table.

“Legally, she’s a minor, so it’s kidnapping, regardless of whether she went willingly or not. It’s kidnapping and attempted murder right now; if we find her too late, it’s murder, and I’ll get that court order of execution for you and Benjamin, and every other vampire that may have touched her.”

A nervous tic started under his eye, and he swallowed so hard that it was loud in the quiet room. “I don’t know where they took her.”

“Time for lies are past, Barney; when Sergeant Zerbrowski comes back through that door with an order of execution I’ll be able to legally blow your head and heart into bloody ribbons.”

“If I’m dead, I can’t tell you where the girl is,” he said, and looked pleased with himself.

“Then you do know where she is, don’t you?”

He looked scared then, wadding the Kleenex up in his hands until his fingers mottled with the pressure. He had just enough blood in him for the skin to mottle. He’d drunk deep of someone.

The door opened. Barney Wilcox, the vampire, made a small yip of fear. Zerbrowski’s curly salt-and-pepper hair fell around his half-open collar, his tie at half-mast with a spot of something he’d eaten smeared down it. His brown slacks and white shirt looked like he’d slept in them. He might have, but then again, his wife, Katie, could dress him neat as a pin and he still fell apart before he reached the squad room. He pushed his new tortoiseshell glasses more firmly up on his face and held a piece of paper out to me. The paper looked very official. I reached for it, and the vampire yelled, “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you everything, please, please don’t kill me!”

Zerbrowski drew his hand back. “Is he cooperating, Marshal Blake?” There was the slightest of twinkles in Zerbrowski’s brown eyes. If he grinned at me, I’d kick him in the shins. He stayed serious; there was a missing girl.

I turned back to Barney. “Cooperate, Barney, because once I touch that piece of paper I am out of legal options that don’t include lethal force.”

Barney told us where the secret lair was, and Zerbrowski got up and went for the door. “I’ll start the ball,” he said.

Barney stood up and tried to move toward Zerbrowski, but the leg shackles wouldn’t let him get far. It was standard operating procedure to chain vampires. I’d removed the cuffs to try to gain his trust, and because I didn’t see him as a danger. “Where’s he going?”

“To give the location to the other police, and you better pray that we get there before she’s been turned.”

Barney turned that pink-stained face to me, looking puzzled. “You aren’t going?”

“We’re forty-five minutes away from the location, Barney; a lot of bad things can happen in that amount of time. There’ll be other cops closer.”

“But you’re supposed to go. In the movies it’d be you.”

“Yeah, well, this isn’t the movies, and I’m not the only Marshal in the city.”

“It’s supposed to be you.” He almost whispered it. He was staring into space, as if he couldn’t think clearly, or like he was listening to some voice I couldn’t hear.

“Oh, shit,” I said. I was around the table before I had time to really think what I’d do when I got there. I grabbed a handful of Barney’s black T-shirt and put our faces inches apart. “Is this a trap, Barney? Is this a trap for me?”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Long before Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, [there was] sexy, strong-willed vampire hunter Anita Blake.”

Customer Reviews

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Kiss the Dead 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 389 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had such high hopes for this book. The series was seeming to pick itself up from the doldrums of being nothing but anthropomorphic sex and violence. Then, this book happened. My three favorite characters have always been Jean-Claude, Asher, and Requiem. Two of the three seem to have been, effectively, written out of the series, thus robbing me of part of my enjoyment of it. To top it all off, there just seems to be lately a never ending cast of new characters, not the familiar old ones that I really was looking forward to catching up with. It was great to see Zerbrowski and Dolph in action again and about time. I had missed them sorely. The action, however, still seemed to be thrown in as a backdrop to Anita's ever deepening emotional/relationship issues, just as they have been these past few books. Older, more invested characters that I actually cared about, like Damian, Faust, Meng Die, Shang Da, etc. have all been all but written out of the series and I really can't find it in my heart to really care about Nicky, Cynric, Crispin, Jade, Devil, or any of the new people. I want to see more of Raphael, Sylvie, Jason, Stephen, etc. Yes, Micah and Nathaniel stay regulars, which is fine, as I love them both dearly, but can we please get back to more of what made the series good: cop action with a side of romance from some of the main people we've come to love and enjoy. Don't know how much longer I can take this and I really don't want to quit the series, as it's been a favorite of mine for the past 12 years, but am fast reaching the end of my tolerance. Blood Noir almost broke me but Skin Trade, The Harlequin, and Bullet redeemed it. Now, however, I find myself doubting, as Flirt, Hit List, and this book have really done nothing for me. I beg you to try again, Laurell. I love your work but please stop writing out all of the coolest characters you have and please bring back some of the things that made the first 8 books my absolute favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a loyal fan of this series since it began, and I kept hoping that what made the first five or so books great would come back--compelling crime drama in a supernatural world. However, I feel that the storylines have become thin covers for erotica and an attempt to educate readers about BDSM and polyamory. I'm no prude; if I want to read erotica, then that is what I will buy. When it takes me longer to read one sex scene (4 chapters? Really?) than it would take me to actually have sex...well...yeah, not what I was hoping to read. Finding myself skipping entire chapters to get a ridiculous solution to a thin plotline, it is not a good feeling. I'm finally done with Anita Blake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awful. Worst of the series by far. I've been a faithful Anita Blake fan since Guilty Pleasures was first released, but even I have to admit that this one was absolutely, irredeemably TERRIBLE. The plot starts and stops, but goes nowhere. Seemingly important conversations and scenes are interrupted by phone calls or emergencies and then never resumed. Whoever edited this book should be ashamed of themselves, a recurring minor character's name is wrong (Vivian is called Vanessa) and Cardinal randomly picked up an e at the end of her name, turning it to Cardinale. There is yet another minor character named Billings (a name which appears regularly for different characters in both Anita Blake and Merry Gentry books. Most of the book is Anita's endless self-preoccupation and navel gazing. She spends a lot of time explaining/defending/considering her morals, sexual partners, monster-ness, etc. Women are jealous of Anita's harem, men are hostile and then grudgingly respectful. Several new characters are introduced for the apparent specific purpose of allowing Anita to think out loud. Asher and Jean Claude appear only briefly and then serve no actual purpose, their scenes cut off or go nowhere. Some favorite characters are not in the book at all. The language is even more repetitive than usual, with phrases reappearing word perfect from one paragraph to the next. A lot of the most interesting potential story lines (the American vampire council, for example) seem to be happening off-camera and are only occasionally mentioned. So disappointed. Don't waste your money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was a good quick read but I found myself skipping over many parts. It read more like erotica than the supernatural thriller I had expected. I think it's time for the Anita Blake novels to get back to the original formula and type of story telling of the earliest books. Less porn, more substance.
UncommonKiss More than 1 year ago
To say this novel was lackluster would be an understatement. Unfortunately, there is only about 20 pages of storyline in the entire book. The rest is recycled descriptions of her many men and sex scenes that read just like the ones we've all read before. I have read every book in the series, and I always hope for something new and unique, but to get recycled garbage and pages and pages of useless descriptions is a waste of my time and money. With so many characters, new and old, one would think the possibilities for new storylines would be too many to count. I hope with the next novel in the series the author will dabble with some actual creativity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Anita Blake series. Aside from the obvious tendency of Hamilton's to include more graphic sex in her books than necessary to support the story line, she spends an inordinate amount of time discussing the character's size, strength, toughness, & monster "morals". She spends page after page, not on the plot, but on these subjects, hammering into the reader's head these particular characteristics. Enough already! More plot, less redundant character description, please.
Karina13 More than 1 year ago
Disappointing! First of all, let me just say that Ms. Hamilton is in desperate need of an EDITOR!!! This book was either not edited at all, or was edited by someone who is completely incompetent. Not only are there a ridiculous amount of errors and unnecessary repetition - even more so than in previous books - but the book is chock full of very basic grammatical errors. Here is just one of many: "It just giggled me, and I was starting to own the things that made me happy, not because it made sense, or was horribly important, but it was just a happy." Um, what? Does this sentence make any sense at all? How could anyone who calls themselves an editor let that make it to print? And this was not an isolated incident – these little errors were peppered all throughout the book. As for the story itself, there are just so many flaws I don't even know where to start. It really seems as if LKH just doesn't care anymore. The tone of the series has completely changed (again), the characters' personalities are completely contradictory to previous books, Anita spends almost the entire book whining about her life but doing nothing to change it, the sex scenes are boring and repetitive and most of the major characters are either glossed over or completely left out. What started out as a decent premise and the promise of a new threat/villain is wrapped up in just a few pages with most of the actual story taking place off camera. The last several chapters are only a few pages long – leaving me to believe that Ms. Hamilton didn’t care at all and was just trying to make her required page count. It’s just sloppy and lazy and really unforgivable given how much money Ms. Hamilton’s fans have spent on her books over the years (not to mention the “Beauty” fiasco). I think it is time for an end to this series. I know LKH has it in her to be a good writer, but she beat this horse dead long ago.
OneGoodCarma More than 1 year ago
This book started out really strong. I really enjoyed seeing Anita back in her role as "The Executioner" and US Federal Marshall. However, all the angst and introspective injected even in the middle of the love scenes was way tooooooo much. It almost felt like I was reading the same thing over and over and over and over. Then just when I thought it was going to go back to the action part of the story line it just pooped out and ended. I really hoped that there was going to be more of Jean Claude in the book. Lately, it seems almost as if he's like a footnote in Anita's life. I'm almost glad to see Asher going, however. Like Richard, I've grown tired of his issues and just wished he'd grow up or go away.
keeshondbookworm More than 1 year ago
I’m a bit torn in two directions in regards to Kiss the Dead. I do think that LHK is starting to get back on track and is bringing back the Anita we all love from the beginning of the series; before it turning pretty much into all sex all the time type of series. The main story line of this book was very interesting, and I do see that some of the sex needed to happen (like between her and Nicky) to further the story and add new information about the arduer and being a “Bride.” But I really don’t see the need to have such in depth play by play writing on all the other times Anita hooked up with her sweeties. It got to the point where I was skimming through those parts in search of the next scene where she was needed for something life threatening. In addition to that there are now even more little story lines going on (like with Arnet’s jealously/ire/and possible insanity?) and there are still ones going on from a few books back that have gotten very tiring to read about (such as Anita’s issues about having sex with Cynric…which looks like it will continue for yet another book). Makes you want to shake Anita and tell her to get over it already and make up your mind! I really enjoyed Hit List and thought things with Anita were getting back to normal. But now I wonder if every book from here on out is going to focus more about the sex versus the actual problem at hand in Anita’s work life. Anyway despite my annoyance with some of this book I will still undoubtedly be purchasing the next one in this series because I just can’t seem to give up on Anita and the hopes that things will get better for the series.
dutchess411 More than 1 year ago
It has typo errors. But more than this, this book lost the Anita magic. It is a dull read. I love reading this series but this is just bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these books but i loved books with a plot. This book had no plot. It was just sex scene after scene. Laurels bestt books had storylines and intricate plots. This had nothing except the same words over and over again. All she did was take all the people from the other books and either mention them or create a sex scene. As usual her books are well written but this one lost what made all her others so special and was incredibly boring. I wont be buying any more of her books until she starts a new series. This one is right up there with Friday the 13th8,9 10,11 .........same old....lets make a buck and no longer care.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only was this not one of her better books i think she finally caved to the pressure of people fussing about her putting too much sex in books. Yes she had more cop stuff and she over emphasized how happy anita is with her life but good grief this was not good. Its like going to olive garden and getting frozen microwaved spaghetti. I dont know what to say her first nine books were awesome. She needs help. Put richard back in it find some real emotion stop justifying orgies. Its stupid at this point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept waiting for the story to start. It was fight, have sex, fight have sex. Which is fine but very predictable. When I glanced down and noticed I was on page 290something and the book ended at page 330something I realized it wasn't going to start. Shame, since I was really looking forward to this!
CaraStories More than 1 year ago
What has happened to Laurell K. Hamilton? Is it that she's now happy, and therefore her books are going down the drain? I do believe her Anita Blake series was, at one time, the hottest thing to hit the market. Her stories filled with anger, dry humor, wanting, suspense, violence, mystery, adventure... Now they are simply about a woman who plays the male role in a house full of male lovers; an endless conversation about feelings and her new and improved way of deciphering them; long-winded, predictable sex scenes, where even the wording is humdrum and old-hat. The only reason Ms. Hamilton retains a fans is because they know what she is capable of, and we are all full of hope. This book was a giant let-down. Ms. Hamilton, please read your earlier works, and use those to guide you through your next "adventure" with Anita.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The previous few reviews hit the nail right on the head. I was absolutely in love with the series but this latest book has officially broken my heart. The plot was nonexistent, the writing was stale, and whoever edited this book should be fired. Twice I found passages that were literally written word from word from a previous chapter. The ending was such a joke, I wouldn't be surprised if LKH had to meet a deadline and just wrapped up the book as quickly as she could. Several times a plot line was introduced only to never be mentioned again! C'mon, after sticking with the series for over 20 books, we deserve better than the garbage that was in this book. Not to mention the fact that LKH is surely but slowly, making me hate Anita. She started of as my favorite character of all time, now I wish I could punch her in the face every time she starts one her inner dialogues about her relationships. I'm seriously debating if should buy the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to start the book but then it never seemed to really get off the ground. I miss the deeper stories of her first books, and I was glad to see some if the old, beloved characters. I jusr felt like a lot of the book was filler material.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved this series since I first found it over a decade ago. But the last few books have been consistently disappointing. This has been the most disappointing yet. It was barely even a book! No real plot. No character development. I feel like the books are basically a crutch for LKH to just write sex scenes. Any minor plot that happens now just seems like a way for Anita to get out of one bed andfall into another one. Before, the sex scenes were well written, sexy and to some extent managed to further the plot. Now the plot only exists to create more sex scenes. And even those seem like repeats from previous books. I don't know what has happened with LKH but I seriously hope she gets back to actually writing stories again. I used to pre-order every book before it came out. Recently, I have bought them fairly close to their release dates but I'm not rushing. Now, I don't think I'm buying anymore until I read some reviews that show that the series is actually back on track.
sand7s More than 1 year ago
One of the most enjoyable vampire books i read. would recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been an Anita Blake Fan since the first book but this book was the worst of all! Even from reading the narrative I felt it lacked imagination and I was right. It lacked a plot, the story just seemed to have no point to it at all. Everyone knows that Anita is petite and so many characters underestimate her but it does not have to repeated from book to book. The last chapters of the book your thinking FINALLY some action but the action ends so quickly and everything is back to normal. The way it finished I was thinking well maybe in the next book there will be something better but then thought thats exactly what I thought this book would be! I dont recommend this book and dont know if I will continue to read this series either.
rachc More than 1 year ago
This book felt like it was trying to placate all those complaining about there not being enough police work in the most recent books. The first 100+ pages were nothing but a single shift of police work. I thought the "villain" was just as ordinary as the overview claims the victims were, especially when compared to previous villains. What happened to Olaf who she punked out in the last book? I love this series and I'm generally happy with the books as long as they seem to be building on the master plot. Other readers have been complaining about too much sex, but at least those books advanced the plot further by the end, this didn't feel like the plot advanced at all. Since I have been reading this series for years I wouldn't miss out on it. It's not bad by any means, but the previous ones are SO good it leaves this one in the dust.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm done. How does an writer devolve from having students study her style to this peep show drivel? What a waste of talent. I am no prude. Nothing wrong with a hot romp (or ten) if the story is good, but when sex is the story-no thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with this book i love this series but after waiting for this book it wasa let down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book was better than alot of her recent books but I also felt that this story was rushed. I loved the fact that I got to see more of Anita's police work and less of the marathon sex sessions. But, it seemed like everything was cut and pasted together without it flowing naturally. I also wish that Jean-Claude had a bigger role. I miss him and it seems that he has taken a back seat. Also, since when is Envy having sex with Jean-Claude? Thats very random and him having sex with another girl doesnt seem to fit who he is. I look forward to the next book and I hope that Jean-Claude gets a much bigger role bc he is a major character and I want to see if there is a possibility that their relationship might be on a deeper level. I also hope that we get to see more info about the first American Vampire Council.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was probably the worst book I have ever read. LKH what the hell was that? Lately the Anita Blake series has been going downhill. All the wonderful characters are fading out or just gone. Jean Claude is the master of the city and he had like 3 lines in this book. You have lost focus on what made this series rock. A vampire executioner turned us marshall in love with the master of the city. Longtime fan...not so much anymore. I actually want my $14.99 back... This book was just horrible. Ps. You need a new editor..ASAP.
IBRAM More than 1 year ago
IF YOU WANT THE BEST REVIEW HERE THEN "STOP BUYING HER BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!" The story stopped being any good a long time ago. They just keep getting pumped out to make money . The story is dead. DEAD!! STOP BEATING THE HORSE!!