In Flirt, author Laurell K. Hamilton admits the novel began as a diversion triggered by an event that would otherwise have been normal. After reading the book, I wish she’d let the story develop a little more. Even then, I’m not sure if it could have survived true novel length.
The plot is incredibly thin. As a reanimator – a person gifted, or cursed, with the ability to raise the dead – Anita Blake is often sought out by different people needing corpses briefly returned to life. In this novel, Blake is offered two different cases that she turns down for solid-and-creepy just cause. I actually enjoyed reading her explanations of why she would not do those resurrections.
Unfortunately, after that the book seems to swiftly slide off the rails. The exchange over lunch at the restaurant between Anita and three of her male paramours jumps us into the plot — such as it is. A gang of werelions abducts Anita and threatens to kill her male lovers if she doesn’t agree to do a resurrection. From there, the story is about Anita’s efforts to save herself by dividing and conquering the gang from within.
The novel is less than 160 pages, with large font and large spacing. It reads quickly and the pacing stays on for the most part. However, I didn’t get much tension out of the read. The kidnap gang was too thinly rendered to invest in emotionally. I really didn’t care who lived or died among them. And I wasn’t worried that Anita wouldn’t be able to save herself.
I was mostly interested in what was going to be done with the reanimated corpse, but sadly that angle was never explored to my satisfaction. If it was just a continued sexual relationship beyond death, I wouldn’t have been interested. I was seriously hoping that there was a mystery attached to the kidnapping.
Apparently with Flirt, Hamilton intends to explore further Anita’s ties to her inner wereself and the dominant powers that come with that. She also adds another layer to her complex romance/sexual relationships with all the men in her books. It’s getting so that even a regular reader must need a scorecard to keep up with everyone.
Hamilton has created a vast landscape to play in with her characters. All of them seem to have various mythologies to weave in as well. I would love to get back to having real plots and real mysteries, something larger for Anita Blake to do. Instead, the plots seem to wind more and more tightly around the character and allow only nuances of story to occur.