A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Cerulean Sins’ chapter eighteen


When Zerbrowski first led me into the room, I thought, there’s a man levitating against the wall.

Uncle Albert? Why are you here?

It looked as if he’d been shot, a lot, and bled, but bullets wouldn’t have kept him pinned to the wall.

I had to be almost underneath the body before my eyes could make sense of it, and even then, I was going to have to ask someone who was more tool-oriented if I was right.

It looked like someone had taken a nail gun, one of those industrial sized nail guns, and nailed him to the wall.

Then they were taken to the Department of Redundancy, that deals in redundancy, redundantly. Also, I’m not sure if you could actually do that. Admittedly, that’s based on some Google Fu, but think about crucifixion. If you nail the hands and feet of a person to a cross, and expect them to just remain there, tough luck. The nails rip through, because the weight of the person is too much for them to carry. In crucifixion, most victims were tied to the cross (or had their legs broken and nailed to the side of the cross, but that doesn’t apply here). Even with an industrial nail gun, I doubt you could nail someone to a wall.

The dark spots on the body were at both palms, both wrists, forearms just above the elbows, shoulders, collarbone, lower legs just above the knees –

They managed to get a nail through the strongest bone in the body? Not. Buying. It.

– just above the ankles, then through each foot. The legs were apart, not pierced together. They hadn’t tried to imitate the Crucifixion. If you went to this much trouble, it was almost odd to not echo that long-ago drama. The very fact that they hadn’t   tried seemed strange to me.

Um, two things. Firstly, is it just me, or does that read like LKH is implying that there is only one crucifixion in all of human history? I know saying ‘the Crucifixion’ would make a majority of the western world go, ‘oh, right, Jesus’, but calling it THE Crucifixion almost suggests that it only happened to Jesus. I just find the wording strange. Secondly, ‘drama’? Drama is relationship troubles, not an agonising torture that causes a slow death.

Plus, I just have this image in my head….

ohshitmyplan

Like, this doesn’t seem a practical way to murder people at all.

I leaned forward too far and had to put my fingertips out to catch myself. My fingers touched dried blood on the wall. Only then did I realise I’d forgotten my surgical gloves. Fuck.

Fuck indeed. You’ve just compromised the entire case. Congrats!

“How could you let me come in here without gloves on?”

Um, no. Don’t blame others for your failures, Anita! You’re the fuck-up!

“I didn’t expect you to touch the evidence,” he said. He fished a bottle of hand sanitizer out of one of his pockets. “Katie makes me carry it.”

I let him pour some into my hands and I scrubbed them.

Anita Blake: Cannot Even Be Trusted To Use Hand Gels. Plus, he poured it INTO your hands? I know you’ve lost a lot of blood, but hand sanitiser isn’t an appropriate substitute!

It wasn’t that I was really worried about catching anything from that one small touch, I didn’t more out of habit. You didn’t take pieces of the crime scene home if you didn’t have to.

“Where’d you get that sweet TV unit?”

“Crime scene. I thought I had to.”

The gel evaporated against my skin making my hands feel wet, though I knew they weren’t.

how fascinating

Anita, after not being given an ear-full for ruining the case, looks at the walls around the crucified body. They’re covered in pentagrams and Nordic runes. I’m starting to wonder why Anita was called into advise on this case. She doesn’t know shit about magic. RPIT has a witch detective! Surely she’d be much more useful on this case.

I’d had one semester of comparative religion with a professor who had really liked the Norse. It had left me with a better knowledge of runes than most Christians had. It had been years, but I still recognized enough to be confused.

I’d forgotten how Anita had taken classes in absolutely everything that might be plot relevant in later life. I don’t buy that she still remembers as much as she claims too. She hasn’t done any work with runes since. University was five, six years away for her. It’s not realistic that she can remember one term so perfectly.

Anita starts to talk about the runes she is not an expert in and knows nothing about. The runes are in a ‘pretty standard order’. Um, right, whatever.

“If you’re really doing ritual, you have a specific purpose. You don’t use all the Norse runes, because some of them are contradictatory. I mean, you don’t want to use a rune for chaos and a rune for order. I can’t think of a true ritual where you would use them all. Even if you’re doing a working where you wanted to invoke polarity, healing, harming, chaos, order, god, goddess, you still wouldn’t. Some of them aren’t easily made to fit any true polarity/opposite sort of thing. And they’re also in a pretty standard textbook order.”

Or they might be saying, ‘I TOLD YOU TO PICK YOUR FUCKING UNDERWEAR UP’. Because runes aren’t some magical mystical thing. I mean, they can be, but they’re, you know, letters. They’re part of an alphabet. Does… does LKH not realise that runes are a non-Latin alphabet?

BEHOLD THE MYSTIC COMB … with someone’s name on it so they don’t lose it. Tremble before its awesome powers!

Zerbrowski wants to know whether this is magical. YOU FUCKING MORON. YOU HAVE A WITCH ON THE POLICE FORCE. WHY AREN’T YOU TALKING TO HER? Anita says it isn’t, and that ‘the body isn’t arranged to imitate any mystical or religious symbolism that I’m familiar with’.

Well, even if the body hasn’t been posed to resemble Christ on the cross, surely the potential this crime has religious elements to it can’t be just discounted without investigation. Crucifixion is an incredibly potent religious symbol in the west. Maybe the guy isn’t posed like Jesus because the killer had trouble sticking him to the wall?

Anita says that the runes are just copied out of some book. Um, they’ll need more clues than that. There are several runic alphabets, and they’re very different from each other. She concludes that there was no magical or religious purpose and Zerbrowski… confirms that’s what Tammy Reynolds, RPIT witch, already told them.

Excuse me.

laser anger eyes

Dolph just can’t bring himself to trust Detective Reynolds because of her mystical powers. Oh, he’ll trust ANITA FUCKING BLAKE, MURDERER AND RAPIST, but not Reynolds, who has only ever been professional and law-abiding. For some reason, despite the fact that Anita hates Tammy, she gets pissed and threatens to talk to Dolph. Zerbrowski gets scared and says how Dolph has been so grumpy lately.

Anita stomps around on her munchkin legs and looks out the window. The house has a nice view. I needed to know that.

“They had to know for sure that there was no neighbour out there that could see what they were doing. Shooting him, you might take your chances, but putting him up on the wall, and all the symbols, no, they had to be sure they wouldn’t be seen.”

“That’s pretty organised for a wacko,” Zerbrowski said.

*steeples fingers* So, Zerbrowski, your theory is that a random mentally ill person stumbled into this particular home, which is secluded and isolated, and just decided, ‘hey, I’ve got this nail gun and a book of runes, I’m going to murder the first person I see in an incredibly ritualised manner!’.

And you’re a police detective how, exactly?

Anita comes up with the ground-breaking theory that someone might have murdered this guy for a reason, like money. Zerbrowski is dumbstruck by this. It was Dolph’s theory, until after finding out there was no magic and needing confirmation for that.

“I may not always like Detective Tammy, but she’s pretty good at what she does.”

“You just don’t like that she’s sating Larry Kirkland, your animator in training.”

“No, I don’t like that she and Larry are dating. She’s his first serious girlfriend, so forgive me, but I felt protective.”

Bang head

Zerbrowski sings about how Larry and Tammy are in L-O-V-E. Before you think I’m being hyperbolic, that’s what it actually says. Argh. Anita then tries to get home because she doesn’t want to do the job she’s been assigned to do, but Zerbrowski grabs her and says she simply must go to the second scene, it’s so violent, and Dolph might get angry!

Why are you grabbing her, you asshole.

Then the tension just goes as Anita agrees to see the crime scene and they tease each other. I might like it if I didn’t hate both of these characters with a fiery passion.

He started me across the room, arm still across my shoulders. “How did you end up with a werewolf stripper as your driver for the day?”

“Just lucky I guess.”

If we objectify men, it’s like sexism never happened!

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8 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Cerulean Sins’ chapter eighteen

  1. I can suspend my disbelief for vampires existing, or werewolves. I can accept unhealthy relationships and polygamy as things that happen in real life. The magic system I can work with, screwed up as it is. But the crime scenes just break the universe for me. Everything logical is saying ‘this could not happen in our world’, and the suspension of disbelief shatters. Good job, LKH!

  2. It’s the line likes the one about her hands feeling wet even though they’re not that just annoy the piss out of me. They’re so small next to the larger stupidity and offensiveness, but their awkwardness and redundancy just enrages me every time they appear.

  3. “It wasn’t that I was really worried about catching anything from that one small touch, I didn’t more out of habit. You didn’t take pieces of the crime scene home if you didn’t have to.”

    Um, Anita? That’s *not* the reason you wear latex gloves at a crime scene. They’re not to protect *you*, they’re to protect the *evidence*. I can’t help but feel like this whole bit was there because someone *finally* pointed out that having Anita just start poking around crime scenes without any protective clothing was really, really stupid. Unfortunately, LKH didn’t seem to grasp *why* it was stupid.

    “Dolph just can’t bring himself to trust Detective Reynolds because of her mystical powers.”

    Wait, Dolph doesn’t trust Reynolds, a trained police officer, because she’s a witch, but he *does* trust Anita, who’s a fucking necromancer. Does that make him a hypocrite, or LKH? Or both?

    And re: the runes thing – oh, where to begin?

    First, I took *two years* of Russian at university. That was maybe five or more years ago now. You know how much of it I remember? Almost noting. Same for the Latin I took in high school. If you’re not regularly using information, or you don’t find it particularly interesting, you’re probably going to forget it. Oh, wait, that only applies to us mere mortals, not to semi-divine beings like Anita.

    Second, it feels like the only reason the runes are even there is because had LKH just learned about it and wanted to show off.

    • Dolph doesn’t like Tammy because at the mere suggestion of other women, Anita crawls into a corner of the ceiling and hisses like a demon.

      I studied French for four years at school. I was one of the top twenty in my year group. I haven’t studied it since I was fourteen, and I can just about say ‘My cat’s name is Steve’ and ‘I am a giant mushroom’.

      I think this might be the start of her turning pagan. Especially seeing as she doesn’t seem to understand that the runic alphabet is, you know, an alphabet, and not necessarily magical.

  4. “Um, two things. Firstly, is it just me, or does that read like LKH is implying that there is only one crucifixion in all of human history? I know saying ‘the Crucifixion’ would make a majority of the western world go, ‘oh, right, Jesus’, but calling it THE Crucifixion almost suggests that it only happened to Jesus. I just find the wording strange.”

    Sadly, this is actually pretty accurate. Far too many people honestly think only Jesus was special enough to warrant being nail-gunned to a capital ‘T.’ Which is why I think everyone should watch “Life of Brian.”

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