Sucker Punch by Laurell K. Hamilton

Sucker Punch by Laurell K. Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A brutal murder, a suspect in jail, and an execution planned—but what if the wrong person is about to be killed?

When a fellow U.S. Marshal asks Anita Blake to fly to a tiny community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on an emergency consult, she knows time is running short. When she arrives, there is plenty of proof that a young wereleopard killed his uncle in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. As the mounting evidence points to him, a warrant of execution is already under way.

But something seems off about the murder, and Anita has been asked for her expert opinion on the crime scene. Despite escalating pressure from local cops and the family’s cries for justice for their dead patriarch, Anita quickly realizes that the evidence doesn’t quite add up.

Time is against Anita, as the tight-knit community is up in arms and its fear of supernaturals is growing. She races to uncover the truth and determine whether the Marshals have caught the killer or are about to execute an innocent man—all in the name of justice.

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I missed a couple of Ms. Hamilton’s previous books prior to Sucker Punch because I felt tired of whole scenes being dedicated to sex. I’m thrilled that this novel has a PLOT and the author stayed focused on solving the mystery with only a few episodes to remind me how convoluted and important her relationships are within her polycule. It wasn’t heavy-handed at all and I really appreciated that.

The whole premise was to save a young man who both Anita and Marshal Newman believed to be innocent. Unfortunately, a warrant of execution was issued and time is not on their side. The legalities they were trying to work through and with was fascinating. It presented a clear case of our justice system in reality. A law is passed that everyone felt was needed but in practice falls short of actual life situations. The result is someone could die that really shouldn’t but the law is so narrow, there’s no wiggle room. Talk about frustrating and stressful! The suspense comes from wondering if they will make it in time and what will they have to do to make it so.

Of course, everyone is sure Bobby is the murderer. The secondary characters exhibit prejudices and lack of tolerance and the willingness to ignore the 10 years Bobby was a model citizen. How easy it is to accept the simple way out just because the topic makes a person uncomfortable. It seemed like most of the townsfolk just want to sweep Bobby under the rug and forget anything ever happened. But, in true Anita Blake form, she won’t give up, she keeps fighting no matter how angry she gets the local PD. I am always impressed with Anita’s character. She’s a strong woman who isn’t afraid to fight and face the monsters head on, even when monsters turn out to be evil humans. I wasn’t sure if that was the case because guess who’s back in town? Olaf a/k/a Otto. He had a case in the vicinity and I kept wondering if there was a connection.

One connection that makes for good reading is the dynamic between Otto and Anita. Fans of the series understand why that is disturbing on so many levels. In Sucker Punch, I was treated to a serious pondering of, what If Olaf actually gets his way? If you’d have asked me before reading this novel, I would have said no way in heck – that is never going to happen. Ms. Hamilton spent some time with Olaf’s character and now I have to say, I’m not too sure. And after what Edward said? Color me shocked! Another stunner is that Anita’s lion isn’t that averse to the possibility. I wonder if other readers are of similar mind about Olaf after reading this story. It sure makes for some interesting contemplation.

The ending is exciting, shocking, stunning, and quite possibly contains the most important cliffhanger question any book has ever ended with. I am not going to say who it involves because I want a reader to be just as flabbergasted as I was. I never saw that coming in a million years. One thing is for sure – I am NOT going to miss the next book when it comes out. The answer to that question is way too important to ignore.

Ms. Hamilton wraps up the case in spectacular style. It’s not what I expected but it makes a ton of sense and provides complete closure. Sucker Punch is a powerful book with a hefty story worth taking the time to read. This is the most satisfying Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel I’ve read in quite some time and is an easy recommend.

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