I am sorry if I seem flippant but there's no way to get through this problematic mess without being snarky.
"Nathaniel drove because I was too shaky to concentrate."
I hear being raped impairs your cognitive functions. I hope to god he's driving her to the hospital for a rape kit. Oh who am I kidding. This is an Anita Blake book.
NO ONE HAS EXPLAINED THE SHOWER TO ME YET. Or where they were!
Anyway, I get what LKH is trying to do. She wants it to seem as though Anita was the one in the wrong in the last scene, for feeding on Micah when Micah didn't know what would happen. So essentially she tried for Anita the accidental rapist, and somehow got Micah the deliberate rapist (stranger?) instead. All the parts are out of order and the consent is all wrong. You can't have Anita refuse sex six times and make me feel that she did something wrong.
"It was as if...the air I breathed was precarious..."
Language is a fun thing and rules were meant to be broken but I am just going to say that air can never be precarious.
"I knew that no matter how bad you feel, or what horrible thing happens to you, that the world just keeps on going. That the rest of the world doesn't even realize that the monsters are eating your heart."
Again, I'm pretty sure LKH intends all of this angst to be about Anita's acceptance that she's probably a wereleopard, but it reads like her trust is broken because of the rape she just suffered. It's like LKH can't build suspense or mystery in the normal way so she makes everything unclear instead and calls it good.
"Nathaniel wore a ribbed tank top and silky jogging shorts. He'd tied his nearly ankle-length hair in a loose braid that curled on the seat beside his thigh. He'd found that if he let his hair fall onto the floorboard, sometimes it tangled around the pedals."
This man's hair is so long it's hazardous, yall. Here's a secret. I used to have very long hair and you know what? It's almost impossible to take care of to the level it requires if you want it to look good. Plus people think you're just a teensy bit desperate if you have crazy long hair, no matter your gender. We all know that guy who won't let his bald spot mullet go. Not a good look.
"I'd never had hair that long."
Even Nathaniel's hair must be compared against Anita's.
Anita goes on about how she demands independence from her leopards, which apparently makes her a good person and is why Nathaniel finally has a driver's license. Not everyone wants to be independent, especially a guy like Nathaniel whose greatest ambition is being someone's forever slave. Forcing someone without the skills or desire to fit a certain role, even if that role is one of traditional autonomy, is a cruelty not a kindness. If the person wishes to be independent and doesn't understand how then yes, by all means help them. But in this case what Nathaniel wants and needs is a master, and if Anita can't do that she needs to cut him loose so he can find someone who will give him the kind of relationship he requires to be happy.
Anita feels "incomplete" without her Browning, "Like I was missing a hand." I know we in the U.S. have a reputation for loving guns, but even I don't understand this. Maybe it's because I am a delicate Pacific Northwest flower, but I can count the times I've even heard the word gun in public without going in to double digits. I think LKH must realize somewhere inside her that Anita doesn't have much personality and has grafted on guns in order to compensate.
What I'd love to see is a main character who solves problems without constantly resorting to weaponry, or even magic. Magic is just a tool, after all, and that tool won't be able to fix all problems.
"...most people knew me on sight." So what was with the lame attempt at subterfuge way back in the beginning? Okay that was NiC and this is the police station (apparently) but she hasn't exactly done anything to preserve any anonymity in either area.
"Detective Clive Perry opened the door and started down the stairs. He was slender, handsome, African-American, and the most unfailingly polite person I'd ever met."
See, because he's an icky darkie you guys, but he's one of the good ones because he's on the side of the angels. He had the good sense to join law enforcement and act just so nice and polite all the time that he became good in Anita's white eyes.
He calls her Anita. BRACE YOURSELVES:
"It was probably the second time in all the years we'd known each other that he had used my first name. It was usually Ms. Blake."
HE CALLS THE WHITE WOMAN MS. UNFAILINGLY. (NO Anita is NOT mixed race. She only brings it up when she can manipulate it for her own good and LKH is constantly reassuring me about how pale and white she looks, PLUS zero cultural connection). Good ol' Clive, so polite. So subservient to white ladies. Such a good little negro.
Everyone is all zomg I thought you were dead, are you a vampire now? OMG I AM A MONSTER NOW WAAAH.
The irony is I LOVE ANGST. (Maybe too much according to some reviewers, heh) but this is melodrama, not true angst. Melodrama is terrible.
She tells everyone "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." GROAN.
I'm just going to say, don't do this in your books. Of course this is all a matter of opinion, but these sorts of references date your work and make it less accessible.
Everyone freaks out as though Jesus has risen and is walking through their office. Even then Anita must comment that there are only a few other women here as opposed to all the men.
"No one else showed the reservations that Clive Perry had shown on the stairs, and it made me wonder about his religious background, or his metaphysical one."
Betcha everyone else in this room is white, and therefore love Anita and haven't been infected by any nasty dark skinned doubt. Also did you know black people are more likely to be religious bigots? Oh, they're not? Someone might want to tell that to LKH. Also she's worked with this guy for years and has no idea as to his background?
Zebrowski is here and he's just a lovable scamp, what with his salt and pepper hair and mismatched clothes and general Anita love. They go back and forth about letting J.C. out of prison, since Anita is clearly alive. Uh, that's not how that works. It's great (debatable) that Anita is alive but that at best slaps J.C. with attempted murder. He's not getting out of his cell tonight, or at least he shouldn't in a world with rules based on our world. There's no proof he didn't do it other than Anita's say so, which is ridiculous. Imagine if one person's biased say so could get you out of prison.
But of course because this is Anita's show, Zebrowski agrees as long as Anita talks to Dolph, her boss (?), first. Dolph is going to give us the requisite dose of strawman 'bigotry' this book, I suspect. I suppose I'm meant to believe that only Anita experiences discrimination and it's oh so hard to be her, but it falls flat thanks to all the bigotry she dishes out. She is the queen of casual racism, which I suppose earns you a crown made of watermelons and fake eagle feathers that you wear while you cavort about in minstrel show makeup.
EVEN ZEBROWSKI TOUCHES HER FACE. The movie blindness has struck him too! I am checking behind all the curtains for Jose Saramago because this shit is ridiculous.
Dolph is huge, as in he's 6'8. I think this is here so LKH can portray him as a scary ebul manz here to be bigoted against Anita, because apparently side eyeing your employee for sleeping with the master of the city, when you're all supposed to be policing supernaturals makes you a bigot. I think LKH believes bigot means people who do not agree with Anita. Even Dolph touches her face, and wants to see the scars on her neck. All of this is deeply inappropriate in terms of boss/employee relationship boundaries.
Not only does he touch the scars on her neck, he convinces her to strip so he can see ALL the scars. This is just an excuse for Anita to take her clothes off, including hiking up her bra. It's kind of like the mysterious shower room. It just existed because LKH wanted Anita to have sex in the shower, so she conveniently provided a shower. Thing is a good story has believable explanations for things. It crafts a living world, not a series of set pieces. Your boss asking you to strip when you're both alone in his office is a loaded situation. It can't just exist for its surface meaning. It brings up too many things for the reader. This is now an emotional set piece; it's a lot of soulless parts being cynically manipulated. She starts with Need Anita To Strip, and then fits everything in around that. Ironically, she's like a bad cop who starts with a suspect then twists the evidence to fit that suspect.
Dolph is grilling her about how she healed all the damage.
I mean, really. Why is rapid healing so weird? She is an animator and ought to be able to master flesh to the point where she could heal herself. Zebrowski shows up when Anita still has her tits out, har har.
Anita seriously goes all YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD on Dolph because he doesn't like that she's dating J.C. I am not kidding. "You are not my father, Dolph."
Dolph asks her how she can "fuck a corpse." That's an offensive but fair question. Quite a few people probably have this reaction, considering what idiots we can be about things that are even slightly sexually deviant, let alone something like having sex with an animated corpse. Not to mention FOR SOME REASON he considers Anita a friend and fellow professional and is therefore horrified by her behavior.
Though I also think he's a dumbass because that is DEFINITELY not something you say to your employee, at work.
She retaliates with: "What woman in your life is fucking the undead, Dolph?"
I know Chelsea (hi Chelsea) feels like this is completely shitty on Anita's part, and it is, but I also think it's understandable. Accuse a woman of engaging in necrophilia and she will probably be just a mite pissed off. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter. There's a way to say the kind of shit Dolph said, and what he chose was not the way. I get the impression she says this more out of shock than with intent. Still, obviously Dolph turns in to a rage monster and demands she get the fuck out of his office. She Zebrowski leave.
"...Zebrowski was a cop. That meant you didn't talk about personal stuff."
I don't find this to be true. Think about if you have a partner and you're crammed in a car together all day and night. Odds are, you talk to each other and as you build trust your talks get more and more deep. Yes, no matter your gender. I say this because LKH/Anita has this notion that male cops are all stoic, emotionally constipated alpha males. Cops are people. They have likes, dislikes, hobbies, blind spots, etc. Some are more given to sharing than others, because some people are more given to sharing than others.
Orlando King shows up. He's sexy and scarred. He's a bounty hunter, or was until he was attacked by a shapeshifter of unknown origin. Orlando likes to lecture, presumably about the dangers of wereanimals, and at the end he takes his shirt off to show the audience his scars. Anita dismisses this as "too much of circus sideshow for my taste..." Oh, that's rich.
For some reason the cops hired Orlando to help them with J.C. That makes no sense. This is a world where magic has ALWAYS been a thing. They must have cops capable of bringing a vampire in to custody, or they'd be the most useless police force in existence.
Orlando compliments Anita's scars and her looks.
Orlando gushes some more. Anita's asshole must be IMMACULATE after all this.
"I just did not understand my effect on men. I wasn't that attractive--or maybe I just couldn't see it."
There's an article out there somewhere about how this trope is harmful. I wish I could find it but suffice to say it's just another way of promoting oppressive modesty. Also after several years of being desired by some of the most powerful and attractive men in her entire city, you'd think it would eventually start to seep in. It's another way to show how moral and pure Anita is, as if LKH doesn't want her to get too dirty from all the sex.
Oh here's Jessica Arnet, who is teh ebul pretty much solely because she fancies Nathaniel. Damn Anita, you greedy. Besides you're barely satisfying Nathaniel's most basic needs. Cut him loose and let him explore this thing.
Jessica wants to map Nathaniel's naughty territory because he's a good listener. "That's rare enough in men for it to be a bigger selling point than an attractive body." I think Anita is hanging around the wrong sort of men, then. I have the extreme good fortune to be surrounded by a veritable gaggle of honest, sweet, cis men, who are in touch with their emotions and respect other people. Surely it can't be THAT rare.
Nathaniel doesn't know he's beautiful either. People only pay him to take his clothes off, but nope, no idea he's beautiful. He only spends hours working on his body so he'll be hot on stage. Nope, totally clueless.
They get J.C. out of hock. Him and Anita hug and Zebrowski is wowed by Anita being concerned over her boyfriend.
1). Everyone in this god forsaken universe is focused in on Anita like a laser at all times
2). Anita does perfectly normal things and is praised for them
3). this is another chance to kick Richard's ass, as she dismisses all affection between them before now as merely lust
4). For a STOIC-Y MANLY MAN COP CREATURE Zebrowski is all omg he makes you feel safe, aww
The book has a few miraculous pages that aren't grindingly awful and/or boring, where Anita and Zebrowksi have some banter that references Zebrowski nearly dying in some past book. It feels like there's some real friendship there for a second. Less ego and way more editing and this book could be really good, I think.
They get J.C. out of there and drive away.