Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Necromancer, finds herself investigating a string of arson crimes while trying to secure the safety of the shape shifters in St. Louis when the Vampire Council comes into town. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Necromancer just can't seem to catch a break and it is beginning to wear her down. For the past year, it seems Anita is either putting out fires in her love life or dealing with supernatural crime. On top of that, now that she is bonded to the Vampire Master of the city of St. Louis, she is constantly sorting out vampire politics that tend to creep up more often than not. Another problem is the fact her boyfriend, Richard, a teacher and the alpha (leader) of the local werewolf pack has made her is lupa (co-leader) which just adds to the list of ever-growing responsibilities she must take care of. The fact of the matter is: Anita is stressed out.
As the summer in St. Louis begins to heat up to unbearable levels, Anita receives a call one day from her friend Pete McKinnon who happens to run the local fire station. He explains to Anita that he is dealing with a flurry of arson cases that he believes are targeted at the city's vampire population. All of the fires have the same pattern and evidence suggests it is all being coordinated by an advanced pyro. Anita agrees to ask around with her vampire friends, specifically Jean Claude to see if he has heard of anyone targeting them. Pete thanks her for her assistance.
Meanwhile, Anita receives an unexpected visit to her office from the pard of were-leopards who were left without a leader. They feel lost and are unsure where to go or who will protect them and have some animosity towards Anita because she killed their alpha months before. Yes, he was slightly psychotic and had some serious issues but she knew it had to be done. The group beg Anita for guidance asking her to assume the role as their lupa but she declines, stating she cannot protect them nor does she have the time or energy. After the pard leaves, Anita receives a call from Jean Claude who asks her to meet with him, sounding distressed, Anita agrees.
When Anita meets with Jean Claude, he informs Anita that the Vampire Council, a group that keeps order among the vampires of the world, has arrived due to the fact they feel threatened by Jean Claude's current position of power. He explains that due to him killing one of the council's most powerful member weeks before, they want him to take his place on the council. However, Jean Claude knows he is not powerful enough to maintain his seat on the council which is consistently challenged by other vampires. He also does not want to leave Anita whom he loves and move to Europe. However, the fact he insists on staying in St. Louis has made the Vampire Council nervous as they feel he is creating a rival council within St. Louis. Anita warns him to be careful and Jean Claude explains that things could go south quickly with the vampire sent by the council and to be prepared.
That night, Anita receives a call from Pete about a vampire burning at a restaurant called Burnt Offerings. She rushes to the scene which is completely gruesome and finds a woman who says she was only defending herself and the vampire tried to force himself on her. The police arrest the woman as she is suspicious with Anita thinking the situation is slightly out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, before she can continue the investigation, Jean Claude calls upon Anita to deal with the Vampire Council who has arrived and already stirring up trouble. One council member known as the “Master of Beasts” has made it his mission to take over all of the city's lycanthropes into his service.
Anita along with Richard and the leader of the were-rats Raphael, track him down and confront him. Realizing the only way they will defeat him is if she takes on the role of lupa for the were-leopard pard, Anita agrees to take on the role. She is able to congregate all of the lycanthropes of the city and bring them under her protection as well Jean Claude's which infuriates the Master of the Beasts. When the vampire retaliates against Anita again, she uses her power as werewolf and supernaturally is able to squeeze the life from the Master of the Beast. She demands he leave St. Louis and never return. Knowing he would rather live than die, he agrees. After the confrontation, Richard announces to his pack they have a true lupa and that is the power they need to protect them. Anita is touched when she wins over the pack who see her as a worthy member.
Meanwhile, Jean Claude approaches Anita that one of their fellow lovers, Asher is feeling as if he should leave St. Louis as he doesn't belong to anyone. Asher and Jean Claude used to be lovers in the past yet now they find themselves at odds due to Anita now being in the picture. Anita approaches Asher and tells him he is worthy to join them in bed as anyone. Together, the three of them make love, feeding on each other's lust. To seal the deal and let Asher know she is serious about him staying, Anita lets him feed from her which ends in the ultimate ecstasy.
After Anita deals with the vampire politics and her romantic life, she returns to investigate the vampire burnings with Pete. She discovers that Yvette, the owner of Burnt Offerings is behind the vampire burnings. A vampire herself, she is fearful that the United States will eventually legalize vampires as citizens and knows that that cannot happen. By pressuring humans to begin a war with the vampires, the owner new it could destroy all peace talks and create a war within the city. However, after a confrontation with Anita, her plan is thwarted when her partner Warren states he will no longer help her. Knowing Yvette will not stop until the city is in flames, Warren lights them both on fire.
With the mystery solved and the Vampire Council returning back to Europe, Anita must now face the new challenges she has created for herself. Taking on the role of Richard's lupa as well as maintaining their relationship, while pleasing Jean Claude and now Asher. Determined, Anita looks to the future and hopes she can regain balance in her life once and for all.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is another one of the Anita Blake novels that starts with a really cool premise and mystery and then completely drops it to be embroiled in vampire politics, inner-monologues and poorly written sex. The mystery is literally solved in a just a few pages in the end, so is very anti-climatic.
Best scene in story:
Anita explaining to her new lover Asher that she loves him and wishes for him to stay. Asher was badly burned and tortured and doesn't see himself as handsome or worthy of Anita. It is a tender moment and the love scene between them is beautifully written.
Opinion about the main character:
Anita is starting to show her conflicted morals as she starts to sleep with more than one man and goes against her code of being a one-man woman. The conflict is very out of character for her and she is beginning to be hard to sympathize with.
The Vampire Council has arrived in St.Louis to punish Jean Claude and his human "servant" Anita Blake.
The review of this Book prepared by Christine G.