A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ chapter twenty


Now that Olaf has gone off on a raping spree, Anita, Bernardo, and Edward can sit and sort through the files they shouldn’t have on the serial mutilations. Anita discovers that contrary to what the doctor at the hospital said (that there was no evidence of cutting tools on any of the bodies or living victims) that there were slivers of obsidian found in the mutilated corpses.

I don’t think obsidian knives leave slivers behind, because that would make it a terrible blade. Come on, they get used for surgical blades, obsidian does NOT splinter away at the slightest pressure!

“Did the Aztecs ever get up this far?” I asked.

Edward didn’t treat it like a weird question. “Yes.”

“So I’m not the first one to point out the obsidian clue might mean Aztec magic?”

“No,” he said.

“Thanks for telling me that we’re looking for some kind of Aztec monster.”

Um, no, Anita. You think it’s Aztec because you’re stupid. The Aztec Empire did not stretch to New Mexico.

Look, see. NO WHERE NEAR NEW MEXICO.

What I think LKH has confused the Aztec Empire with the origins of the Aztec people. The Nahuatl people came from north of Mexico, and moved down through Mexico in time. But the Aztec Empire did not go to New Mexico.

And I notice that Anita doesn’t think of any of the other peoples of New Mexico. She jumps to the most famous and well known group of Mexican races that have no business being in New Mexico. Surely, she should think of the local Native American tribes? Instead of the Aztec. But here are the many, many groups of Mesoamerica who might be involved (except that this is waaaay too north for them): the Capacha, the Cholula, the Cocle, the Epi-Olmec, the Huastec, the Izapa, the Mezcala, the Mixtec, the Olmec, the Pipil, the Quelepa, the Teuchitlan, the Tarascan, the Teotihuacan, the Tlatilco, the Tlaxcaltec, the Toltec, the Totonac, the Veracruz, the Xochipala, and the Zapotec. But, whatever, just use whoever is obvious. And impossible.

Edward explains that the police went to the local professor specialising in Mesoamerican history, but Professor Dallas couldn’t make any connections that might explain the mutilations. Luckily, Anita knows better and knows of an Aztec deity that demanded priests skin sacrifices alive for. Or it might be Mayan. Because the Aztec and the Maya are exactly the same.

I did some quick google fu, and while the Aztecs flayed the bodies of sacrifice victims, especially for the god Xipe Totec – ‘The Flayed One’ – I could not find any evidence that they did this to people who were alive. It was done to the dead, and even then, it’s most likely that the Spanish invaders drastically over-estimated and exaggerated the circumstances, nature, and extent of these practises. That’s the problem with studying Mesoamerican history – the Spanish invaders destroyed the cultures they found and destroyed their records. Shitheads.

Sorry, rant tangent. Back to Anita’s stupid conclusions.

Anyway, Edward says that the police can’t find any weight to the Aztec tangent but says that Professor Dallas spends all her time in a club in Albuquerque that is run by the Master of the City. The Master of the City is a Aztec vampire, who calls herself ‘Itzpapalotl’, after the goddess. The police spoke to her, in what must be a centuries old display of bigotry, but she was on stage for three murders so is not considered a suspect. Do you think she could sue them for racial prejudice? Like, ‘I am an Aztec and they presume I commit blood sacrifices’?

Edward then says they should go and interview her because… Itzpapalotl is Aztec, and probably knows something?

Anita protests that it will be politically impossible, considering her connection to JC. This is a valid point, but Edward says that reading files is too boring so they should talk to Itzpapalotl. They shout at Bernardo, and settle into more paperwork.

Reading about people reading paperwork which they find boring is boring. Intensely boring. The only thing vaguely interesting is listening to Anita go on about all the serial murderer cases she’s worked on which isn’t true. Anita has a go at Bernardo for being nice to her, they talk about coffee, and everyone complains about the paperwork. Apparently, going over case notes is too boring for all the super special crime fighting badasses!

“I don’t think paperwork is going to catch this bastard.”

Yeah, it’s only MOST SERIAL KILLERS who are caught out by people noticing small discrepancies and tiny mistakes. But this serial mutilator can only be found through going out to clubs!

Um, why don’t you contact the sellers of obsidian knives in the area? They can’t be in high demand. Get all the names of buyers and check up on them. There. You’ve got a line of enquiry.

Edward asks Bernardo if he’s bored. Bernardo turns to Edward and confirms this.

I found myself staring at his chest. I had an urge to rise up out of my chair, spill the papers to the floor and run my tongue over his chest.

…. I can only think of your comma problems when I read this sentence. I mean, it’s not sexy. It just sounds like she’s lapping up hairs with her tongue. It’s the opposite of sexy.

Why was Bernardo affecting me like this?

Because you’re sex crazy? If you’re gagging for a shag this much, just buy yourself a vibrator. But, no, Anita is a ‘good girl’ and seems to think masturbation is wrong. Or isn’t aware of it at all, which is weird.

Anita is so full of lust that everyone else in the room notices. Bernardo puts some papers together, and Anita starts dribbling down her chin at his muscles. Edward sends him from the room before Anita jumps him in a fit of blind lust. That’s right – Edward doesn’t think women are capable of sexually controlling themselves. Although Anita probably can’t. He then says that Bernardo can only be dealt with by treating him like a child, because that’s not racist.

Edward talks about Anita’s sex life. She hasn’t been dating anyone for six months which… is impossible. Blue Moon took place in August/September. This book takes place in May. Anita dumped JC and Richard at the end of Blue Moon, but in order for her to be single and massively randy now she would have had to dump them in December. Which she didn’t. This timeline is fucked up.

Anita then goes on about how horny she is and how she doesn’t believe in casual sex, basically confirming that LKH doesn’t believe that you can be happy without sex and that masturbation is somehow wrong for women to do. Because if I were writing this – and if I were writing it, it would be Hannah and her junky scifi universe – Anita would just get a vibrator and writhe around in a bathtub and be happy.

Edward tells Anita she just needs a ‘good uncomplicated fuck’ and Anita surprises herself by asking ‘was part of the reason I was still mooning over them the lack of sex?’. So, yeah, I believe Anita is sooooo in love with the pair of them, when her only problem is not getting laid for six months.

And, you know, the be all and end all of your life should be how much sex you’re getting. Because sex is the most important and fulfilling thing in the world. Verily, your life is useless if you do not have the importance of sex in it.

Guess us asexuals should just go and kill ourselves because we don’t care about it that much. (Some of us. Asexuality is a very big and strange thing)

Anita hits back at Edward by saying that his relationship with Donna is complicated and… that’s a thing. That’s something, all right, not that I know what it’s got to do with anything.

“You always go into everything like it’s life or death. Only life and death are life and death.”

Congratulations for working out the meanings of those words.

Anita complains that Edward has emotions now.

Twenty chapters in, and we have worked out that murders have happened. There is a Clue, but no one cares. How is this crime ever going to get solved?

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19 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ chapter twenty

  1. How can you make people being flayed alive with obsidian knives boring? And I thought they said before that it was smooth and there were no tool marks? Unless the killer sprinkled them with obsidian just for fun. I would like that. When they finally find the killer she’s actually French or Japanese or something, and deliberately used obsidian to mess with them. And then Anita would throw a hissy fit and then our killer would shoot her.

  2. I haven’t read this one, but I’m calling it now. Itzpapalotl is a woman and a vampire and most importantly is a woman who isn’t Anita, so she’s probably involved with the guilty party but isn’t the killer because lol, only Anita is ‘man enough’ to commit murder.

    … God, she’s as predictable as she is disgusting. D:

  3. It didn’t used to bother me as much, but as I finish my degree in History, every little bit that people get wrong about the Mexica just drives me insane. The Empire didn’t get anywhere near far enough north to get into New Mexico, but Nueva Espana did. So by Anita’s logic, it could be a criollo vampire who’s pissed at the Anglos in his territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. (Actually, that would have been pretty funny.)

    Also, yes: the use of obsidian does not automatically mean Triple Alliance. Just about everyone in Mesoamerica used it. Hell, places in Europe near volcanoes used it.

    • I don’t know that much about the history of central America, but I know enough to smell the problems in this chapter. Why couldn’t LKH actually have the book set in Mexico? Or do some actual research?

      • That’s a good question. I assume it has to do with the fact that LKH doesn’t want to actually do any decent research on a country that isn’t the one she lives in so New Mexico was a close enough substitute.

      • And because Anita would have to interact with actual Mexicans who would not recognise her special snowflakeness and might be difficult.

        but i want to go to south america now and have jungle vampires

      • Jungle vampires would be awesome.

        Someone needs to write a series on the pre-Columbian vampire race. How they got to the Americas, how they dealt with it (since there would be no bullshit Church mythology to be scared of), if they were revered as gods….

  4. “Luckily, Anita knows better and knows of an Aztec deity that demanded priests skin sacrifices alive for.”

    Of course she does – she’s Anita Blake, omnidisciplinary expert on everything, except things that she should already know.

    “Or it might be Mayan. Because the Aztec and the Maya are exactly the same.”

    According to some people (i.e. Hollywood), they might as well be.

    “Anita protests that it will be politically impossible, considering her connection to JC.”

    Oh, now you want to avoid making a political mess? Where was this when you were threatening war last book?

    “But, no, Anita is a ‘good girl’ and seems to think masturbation is wrong.”

    So is sleeping with another man while you’re engaged, but Anita was fine with that.

    “Anita dumped JC and Richard at the end of Blue Moon”

    Wait, what? Did I miss that?

    “Anita would just get a vibrator and writhe around in a bathtub and be happy.”

    That sounds kinda like a bad idea. Water + electrical appliance = bad.

    “There is a Clue, but no one cares.”

    No, Dottie, that’s a jar of jam. (sorry, I had to)

    • JAAAAAAAAAM.

      Um, the three of them are on a ‘break’ which seems to have lasted a year, according to LKH’s fucked up timetable.

      Oh, does water and electricity not mix? Whoops, sorry, smoking corpse of Anita Blake.

      • I feel like a lot of the timeline problems would be solved if LKH just said “They’re in real-time unless otherwise indicated.” Of course, that would mean that Anita would probably be in her late 40s by now, and we can’t have a woman that old running around having sex with anything that moves, can we?

      • I honestly did not know that. Then again, I also have a Y-chromosome, so it’s unlikely I would ever come across that bit of information.

        Still, you can’t deny the image of Anita accidentally electrocuting herself isn’t appealing.

  5. Guess us asexuals should just go and kill ourselves because we don’t care about it that much

    No no, here is the Truth about asexuals according to the Anita Blake books:

    1) Asexuals who are physically capable of having sex don’t exist. Period. Not only that, but if you think sex isn’t the most important thing in your life by a very, very long way, so important it overrides everything else, you are incorrect and lying to yourself. Therefore, the vast majority of people on this planet are lying to themselves about the absolute centrality of sex. Which is defined solely by how big an orgasm you get from it, but that’s a tangent.

    2) If someone cannot have sex, for whatever reason, they are evil. Their sex drive cannot be properly fulfilled, and therefore they go around torturing and murdering people as a substitute. Because if you can’t fuck, you become criminally insane. That’s just logic! That’s why the prisons are full of nuns.

  6. All of this Nahuatl stuff makes me think of the Xoloitzcuintle and the Peruvian Inca Orchid dogs and I’m just gonna sit here and pretend that there’s a vampire in stereotypical-Aztec-vamp’s Kiss that is also from South America that’s Animal to Call is dogs and they just keep a bunch of these around. Maybe they’re a young vampire (physically), even. I don’t know.

    /OC building

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