A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘The Laughing Corpse’ chapter three


Messy, Dolph had called it. A matter of understatement. Blood was everywhere, splattered over the white walls like someone had taken a can of paint and thrown it. There was an off-white couch with brown and gold patterned flowers on it. Most of the couch was hidden under a sheet. The sheet was crimson. A bright square of afternoon sunlight came through the clean, sparkling windows. The sunlight made the blood cherry-red, shiny.

That … doesn’t sound very messy. I know you say that it’s messy, but the evidence doesn’t make it sound messy. It makes it sound like someone had an accident on the sofa. Anyway, there’s enough gore to make Anita queasy and Detective Zarbrowski laughs at her. What an asshole, especially seeing as the corpse is just a pile of body parts under a sheet – enough to make anyone sick.

I poked the side of it with two fingers. It was like poking a side of fresh beef. A nice, solid feel to it. My fingers traced the bumps of bone, ribs under flesh. Ribs. Suddenly I knew what I was looking at. Part of the rib cage of a human being. There was the shoulder, white bone sticking out where the arm had been torn away. That was all. All there was. I stood too quickly and stumbled. The carpet squeeshed underfoot.

Even for a vampire killer, that’s a lot for someone to handle. Looking inside the ribcage, Anita finds that all the organs have been removed. She determines that the body was pulled apart by hand, as there are no knife marks or signs of butchering. So something or someone tore someone else apart with their bare hands. Dolph tells Anita to go down the hall, into another room, saying that the sight is both worse and not worse than the ribcage.

The room down the hall is a baby’s room.

There’s not a lot of blood in the room, just a splattering on a teddy bear. The child is one Benjamin Reynolds, age three, who has gone missing. The ribcage is what’s left of his mother’s body.

The patio door in the kitchen has been smashed – this was the point of entry for the killer. The shattering of the door went unheard by the neighbours. The police suspect that the husband would have come to see what it was, yelled for his wife to take their child and run.

In the living room, there’s a lot left of the wife. Her upper body is basically intact. Anita then gets quite irate because that means there’s no man in the house, just another woman. Does it never occur to you Anita, that it might be a female couple? Why do you presume that there has to be a man involved? Tsk tsk.

Anita knows the killer wasn’t human. There was no blood left on the glass door it came through, and most dead don’t bleed. I don’t know, given that vampires breathe and have heart beats, I don’t know what the dead and the living do any more. Anita says there’s an outside chance it might be a zombie, raised to be a murder weapon. Dolph asks her for names of animators, because this is the latest in a series of murders. First death was of a homeless man, the second were a teenage couple by a cemetery. Anita gives him the name of Dominga Salvador, the voodoo priest for the entire Midwest.

I predict some very bad and almost offensive things about voodoo in this book.

Anita heads out of the crime scene, thinking about her jobs for the evening; raising a child molest so the victim can confront him, a contested will and a witness who died before being able to testify in court.

I was going to ask the most powerful vaudun priest in the United States, maybe in all of North America, if she just happened to raise a zombie. And if that zombie just happened to be going round killing people, on her orders? Was I crazy? Maybe. It looked like tomorrow was going to be another busy day.

And the day was a great big fish.

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