A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Burnt Offerings’ chapter twenty four


Three o’clock in the morning, and Anita’s rolling into the police station. A sly comment by Zerbrowski about how high the slit is on Anita’s dress reminds me that she’s still wearing the stupid thing.

Coming into the RIP squad room, the place is full of penguins. You see, now everyone knows about Anita’s collection, they’ve been taking the piss out of her ever since. Stuffed toy penguins have been showing up at every single crime scene for the past six months. Funny once or twice. It’s a fucking campaign after this amount of time. As the only woman and the only Hispanic on the team, you’d think Anita would have had words with people before now.

Dolph is in the interview room with the victim, and now Anita is blaming Zerbrowski for calling the woman the ‘supposed victim’. No, you did that yourself lady. The squad then shout sexual comments at Anita.

Zerbrowski was waiting on the stairs for me. “I don’t know whether you’ll flash me more leg if I walk in front of you, looking back, or behind you. I think in front.”

“Push it too far, Zerbrowski, and I’ll tell Katie on you.”

“She knows I’m a lech.”

And yet you continue, showing how much disrespect you have for the woman you say you love.

“How did you ever convince Katie to date you, let alone marry you?”

“I got her drunk,” he said.

I don’t like Zerbrowski.

Anita goes up to Dolph, who is described as looking like a pro-wrestler because that’s very normal, and they all make snide comments about how they want Anita to flash them. Anita is shown into the interview room, where Vicki Pierce has just finished talking to Dolph. Vicki has been crying, and Anita says that she has big blue eyes and has been plying Dolph with wiles.  Vicki says that she’s tired and wants to go home. She tries pleading with Anita, saying that it’s hard being around all men after being assaulted.

You’d think RIP would have more female officers for instances like these.

Anita thinks it’s all an act (and seeing as Anita is suspicious of her, I’m guessing Vicki will turn out to be evil) so decides to stand right next to her, deliberately invading Vicki’s personal space. Vicki asks if she’s a lawyer, so Anita tries to steamroll her so the interview isn’t stopped. Vicki starts to tell her story, which is that she had car trouble and went into the bar to phone a car, but Anita immediately pooh-poohs it by saying that Vicki is giving too much information and is justifying herself.

Like, I don’t know, a woman trying to make a group of unsympathetic detectives believe that she was attacked without her consent?

Anita thinks how it’s all so rehearsed and that Vicki is an icky chain-smoker, as if chain smoking is a sign of pure evil. To me, it’s what people do when they’re in a stressful situation. Vicki continues her story regardless, saying she was bitten and didn’t realise the vamp was a vamp until that moment. She responded by throwing her drink in his face and lighting his face on fire. She’d heard vamps were afraid of fire, and that he’d leave her alone.

Anita asks why didn’t Vicki suspect that the vampire might be made angry. Because when you’ve been attacked in a public place and defend yourself, your mind immediately thinks ‘oh, how will this impact my attacker??’

Anita and Dolph then purposefully confuse Vicki over whether or not she knew that vampires were combustible, and pull apart her story. They say Vicki should have known Burnt Offerings was a vampire hangout (‘you should have known men would be in that bar’) because a family friendly restaurant is clearly the first place for a vampire to go.

“It’s not in the vampire district,” she said. “How was I to know that it was a vampire bar?”

“How about the picture of Christopher Lee as Dracula on the sign outside?” I said.

Guess that makes my local movie memorabilia shop a vampire hang out. Or the Count Dracula Club restaurant in Budapest.

And again – this place is a family friendly restaurant. Hardly a hip and happening nightspot. It’s not the place I’d want to go if I were a vamp on the pull.

Vikci bursts into tears and wants to know why they’re treating her like a criminal. She pulls away the bandage to show off the bite. It’s just two small holes, nothing else.

Apparently this means that Vicki is lying and was bitten before she came in, because it should have bruising around it if the vampire sucks but doesn’t feed. Vicki’s story made it sound like the vamp just sunk fangs in before she shoved him off, but who am I to argue with the vampire expert? Dolph and Anita quickly decide Vicki must be some kind of extremist with an agenda against vampires. She’s even a trained actress, so she must have been lying!

“Why did you need me? You had it all solved.”

“The bite, the fact that vampires burn that easily…” He shook his head. “None of this shit is in the literature.”

“The books aren’t designed for police work, Dolph.”

Of course! Why would you want your police force to do their jobs? Why would you want them to investigate and prevent crime? Just have them waste thousands of dollars on being fucking creepy to the only woman in the team! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Anita sighs about how much damage this will all do to the vampire community, and Dolph and her discuss the issue of the segregation of vampire communities and businesses. Dolph is all for it. Yeah, separate but equal. The government can just pull out all the signs they have from the last time they did it! They just have to repaint them. It’s like recycling.

Dolph finally notices that Anita has a serious hand injury and is furious she’s invovled with something else. He threatens to throw her in jail, before he remembers that shit like that is massively illegal. He then teases about how she’s killed so many people but the police have only been able to prove two of them.

ahahahahahaidon’tfindthatfunny

Anita smiles and says she’ll get her federal badge and then she’ll be above the laugh.

HA HA HA

Anita leaves for home, as she’s tired and we’re finally reaching a midpoint, and thinks about how sad she is that Dolph is so grumpy with her. Oh, he just hates vampires so much! And that’s meant to be endearing! And if he gets any more suspicious, he’ll find all those illegal murders she did and she’ll get put in prison!

Oh how charming *vomits profusely*

I’d used my animating powers to kill humans. If it could be proved, it was an automatic death sentence. A death sentence for someone who had used magic to kill was not the same sort of sentence as, say, an axe murderer got. A guy could chop up his family and spend the next fifteen years on death row with appeals. There are no appeals for magic-induced murder. Trial, conviction, death within six weeks, usually less.

Bullshit. Sorry, but all criminals have a right to appeal. It’s sort of illegal to take that away. And automatic death sentence? I don’t think the law works that way. It takes a lot of judiciary process to try someone under the death sentence. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and I don’t think you can mark someone up for the death sentence with just one fucking stamp, and no thinking.

The last witch burnt alive by a mob in this country was only in 1953.

Bullshit.

Look, mobs do horrendous things (still do), but I don’t think mass mobs would burn people alive in the fifties. They didn’t even do it during the height of the witch craze in the seventeenth century.

Her name was Agnes Simpson.

Like I believe a mob in the fifties was hunting down white women.

I’d seen the black-and-white photos of her death. Anyone who studied preternatural anything had to have her picture in at least one textbook. The photo that stayed with me was one in which her face was untouched, pale, even from a distance terror plain in her face. Her long brown hair moving in the heat but not yet burning. Only her nightgown and robe had caught fire. Her head thrown back, screaming. The photo won the Pulitzer Prize. The rest of the photos aren’t seen as often. A progression of photographs that ends with her burned and blackened and dead.

Anita then goes on a pretentious ramble about how maybe the Pulitzer Prize is a charm against nightmares, but what annoys me is that she just says this. She has no emotional connection to it. She doesn’t even pass judgement on it, only the photographer. She doesn’t think anything. It is just something she knows. This frustrates me about LKH’s writing style. She doesn’t make connections. Things happen. They just exist. They make no impact.

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15 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Burnt Offerings’ chapter twenty four

  1. Vicky’s evil. Called it.

    The witch burning could be used in so many ways – Anita is afraid of it happening to her, which is why she doesn’t involve her police friends in anything. Her stepmother had always seemed to approve, which is why she doesn’t trust her. She’s seen similar mobs protesting about zombies and she knows how easily things can escalate. Not just ‘this is a thing. the thing happened. look, I can world-build!’

    • Excellent point. Anita could have go on to say that this was the source of her resentment of her stepmother – that Judith always told her she’d be nothing but a criminal, that she’d end up like Agnes Simpson. But no. It’s just a thing. A thing that happened.

      • It’s one of the things that annoys me about the series. So many things happen that make no sense. And so many irrelevant details are thrown out that could be used to make things make sense. And none of it is ever tied together. It makes the whole Anitaverse seem unreal. Like Anita keeps mentioning random court cases that happen or are happening, but it never affects her.

        I would believe the world a lot more if there were just a few sentences like ‘since the gruesome case a few weeks ago where a couple of students had been brutally murdered by a vampire and his animal to call, there had been a lot fewer customers at Guilty Pleasures and the Circus. A lot of the less powerful vampires were struggling to find willing people to feed on.’ Just something to make it seem like theses events don’t just happen in isolation.

    • Of course she’s evil. She has, after all, committed the two of the main sins of this universe – being a woman (while not being Anita), and not fawning over vampires (while not being Anita).

      Besides, Anita’s already done her good deed for the book by swearing to get vengeance for Sylvie by killing her rapists. What more do you want from her?

      Also, you have to love how everyone is so hostile to this woman, despite all the evidence indicating that she’s the victim here. And how all this crap is completely vindicated, because Anita can never, ever be wrong. Ever.

  2. I hate to say it, but I can believe the witch burning. It wasn’t too long ago that the Civil Rights movement put a boot in the ass of lynching; and many of those were *very* public gatherings of whites who took vicious joy in watching and photographing themselves with the bodies. Seriously, the Wikipedia entry on lynching in the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_in_the_United_States) has several pictures of ones from the 20th century; on the Lynching page, the very first picture is from 1925. And they were still doing it up until the 60’s, even if it had finally slowed down.

    So, yeah. Unfortunately, I can completely see a witch being burned by mob in the 1950’s in LKH’s world.

    • When I was talking about mobs I did mean lynchings, but I didn’t especially want to talk about them – I don’t think that using examples of real hate crimes can be applied to the fluff of Anita Blake without seeming like it lessens the impact of such actions. (Hope this doesn’t seem like I’m coming down on your comment!)

      But while I was saying that lynchings I can believe, I don’t believe in communities dragging off a white woman to be burnt alive in this universe where there is no real antipathy against those who use magic. We have not seen one layperson having an adverse reaction to magic users. If it was really so common to have witches burnt fifty years ago before the events of this book, I would expect to see a lot more reactions and underlying hostility towards magic – and the only hostility openly seen has been done by Anita. We’re only told of the automatic death sentence by her; I have yet to see open, displayed examples of this sentence.

      And, strangely enough, there were a lot of white witch doctors working in the US without trouble during the fifties. Alan Whicker interviewed some. One was a sheriff in Texas.

      • Oh, no doubt; real life does not necessarily dictate fiction. However, I guess I’m looking at the idea that perhaps (in a world where LKH could actually flesh out a universe) in her fictional world, the supernatural=race, and thus, instead of attacking just minorities, they may have included these “others” along with it. And in that way, I can completely believe such a thing could have happened. Even though she drops hints that witches are not really looked down upon, they’re kind of looked at as kooks; arguably, the people that were being lynched back in the day are at least now accepted to the point of not being so openly attacked.

        Honestly, as a minority myself, it’s hard to not read some fiction (even LKH’s terrible fluff) and not recognize that some of it has a kernel of horrible probability. It’s even worse that I suspect she doesn’t even realize what’s she’s really suggesting, and she throws these things in to be all “edgy” and “dark” and “look at how terribly terrrible things were before Anita was around.”

        Sorry. I kind of threw a massive downer in here.

      • No, no, I think you raise really good points. And LKH does throw a lot of things in without thinking the implications through. I guess from my position – being white and being English – I can’t see all the possible implications the way I should – but I do try, and appreciate all discussion where I’ve slipped up!

  3. Yeah, I’m writing mine at like 6 PM in the evening, plus trying to be all eloquent for my American Indian Studies class, so…. 😉 I think that’s the other half of it; my brain’s already on minority studies, so I’m *really* seeing it everywhere.

  4. “I got her drunk”

    OH MY GOD I DID NOT REMEMBER THIS

    The lack of what police, even those specifically trained to deal with vampires, know about them is ridiculous. Especially since vampires weren’t just revealed recently or anything, people have always damn well known about them.

    Oh, and get used to the victim blaming and LKH’s constant insinuations that women make up rape claims for fun and vengeance and how everyone always believes them (hahaha no, alas). Get very, very used to them.

  5. Uh, I googled Agnes Simpson. LKH and Anita must’ve mistook “this country” for “Scotland/the UK” because that’s the only Agnes Simpson, witch, from 1953 that’s mentioned. She’s called the Wise Wife of Keith. She was blamed for causing the sea storms that troubled King James when he was voyaging. So she’s not only not American, but her story is so much more interesting. Way to fuck that up, LKH.

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