Fiction: “The Lunatic Cafe” by Laurell K. Hamilton

lunatic cafeToday’s been a weird day. It was our first official Snow Day at the store, which is awesome for me on a personal level — not so awesome at the fact that Winter Storm Nemo may have just screwed us out of having a good week for once. But on that mythical, personal level, it was my first Snow Day because the place that I worked closed, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself aside from dancing in my pajamas for about ten minutes.

So I set myself up for a couple of goals: I wanted to finish reading this book today; I needed to shovel off my deck, as it’s the way to get in and out of my apartment; and I wanted to watch Die Hard II: Die Harder, because DIE HARD FIVE COMES OUT THIS WEEK AND I WANT IT SO BAD I MEAN CAN I GO SEE IT NOW

Good news – I accomplished one and a half of my goals!

I’m not sure why I picked up The Lunatic Cafe, aside from I remember saying it as an option for a future book while I was reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I guess I was just looking for something that was the complete opposite of that book? I succeeded!

So. When we left off, Anita was starting to date Richard, who is a legit werewolf. This is pissing Jean-Claude off, because he lurves Anita and wants her for himself. The good news is that Jean-Claude isn’t in the book much, so I don’t have to bitch about how frequently Jean-Claude calls Anita ma petite, italics included. Because I really fucking hate that.

Richard is a member of Marcus’s pack, and there’s a power struggle that Richard doesn’t want Anita to get dragged into, but Anita doesn’t want Richard to make decisions for her. Also, there are some shapeshifters and/or lycanthropes missing. And Anita is also looking into a murder that may have involved a werewolf in another county, and the investigation is being run by a couple of Teutonic twats. (Yeah, I said that. I am using that word to describe men. Also, it’s a quote. Name that movie.) Uh, what else. Oh, one of Jean-Claude’s minion vampires is insanely jealous of Anita, so much so that halfway through the book she attacks Anita, takes away her guns, and forces Anita to tell Jean-Claude that she’s engaged to Richard, which becomes a whole big thing, and basically, this book suffers from Too Many Plots, Not Enough Depth.I have to say that the writing and grammar seems to have improved in this title versus the other three I’ve read over the past couple of years. So there – I said something good about it!

Now back to the bad stuff – because much like approximately one million people and Smash, some people just like to hate-watch. I hate-read: picking apart a series is what gives me pleasure about reading the series. Yeah, it means I’m bitchy, but you gotta admit, sometimes my rants are hilarious.

Oh, PS: even though I’m not going on an airplane any time soon, I may find myself dragging out the next Patricia Cornwell.

Anita keeps up her little trend of always needing to be right, or the most dominant, or in control, or whatever you want to call it, but it is so annoying, and in some cases, actually life-threatening for her:

“Let her acknowledge your dominance over her. Acknowledge that she needs your help.”

Marcus stared at me. “Acknowledge my dominance, and I will call Jason off.”

“If he starts to shapeshift, I’ll kill him. You know I’ll do it, Marcus. Call him off.”

“If I am to give you my protection, you must acknowledge me.”

“Fuck you, Marcus. I’m not asking you to save me. I’m asking you to save him. Or don’t you care about your pack members?” [103]

I mean … if I was being attacked by a werewolf and the only way to save my hide is to either assert that the pack leader is dominant or shoot an innocent person with a shapeshifting disease in the face, I’m gonna go with lifting my hands in supplication and saying “Hey, man, you’re the boss, call Taylor Lautner off and I’m your boo.”

Apparently, when I’m in werewolf danger, I become strangely urban. (I may have to stop rewatching Dark Angel?)

Here’s what happens when Anita leaves a voicemail for Edward, a coworker:

A long, low beep sounded. “This is Anita. What the hell are you doing in town? Call me soon.”

[…]

The phone rang before I’d gotten warm. I waited for the machine to pick up; after the eighth ring I gave up. I’d forgotten to turn on the machine. Great.

“This better be important,” I said.

“You said to call soon.” It was Edward.

I pulled the receiver under the blankets with me. “Hi, Edward.”

“Hi.”

“Why are you in town? And why were you at the Lunatic Cafe?”

“Why were you?”

“It is nearly six in the freaking morning, I haven’t been to sleep yet. I don’t have time for games.” [111]

*deep breath*

YOU CALLED *HIM*, ANITA, AND ASKED HIM TO CALL YOU BACK *IMMEDIATELY*. JESUS.

Her need to be Whatever (I have no name for it besides that) also affects her relationship with Richard:

“I don’t need your protection, Richard. I don’t even want it.”

He leaned his head against the headrest and closed his eyes. “If I play the white knight, you’ll leave me.”

“If you think you need to play the white knight, then you don’t know me at all.”

He opened his eyes and turned his head to look at me. “Maybe I want to be your white knight.” [197]

Actually, let me back up for a second, because while in this scene Anita is being incredibly stubborn and borderline bitchy, I must admit that I am not sure I wouldn’t react any differently. I pride myself on being very independent, and while every once in a while I would like to have a man about the house, I must also admit that I haven’t needed one to be a white knight for anything. I mean, I could have used one a few months ago when I couldn’t get a window unstuck on ‘open,’ but then one night I realized that if you put a flathead screwdriver in between the frame and the jamb to unstick the swollen paint, that gets the window unstuck. So, suck it, dudes, I guess I’m all set for now.

But it would be really nice to have a guy want to be my white knight. Just sayin’.

Okay, maudlin moment over. Let’s get back to the mocking, shall we?

Something that I kind of laughed at is how Anita suddenly had family …

“Maybe I’ll find Josh something there.”

“How old is he now, thirteen?” Ronnie asked.

“Fifteen,” I said. “My baby brother was my height last year. He’ll be gigantic this year. Judith says he’s outgrowing his jeans faster than she can buy them.” [116]

What … I mean, where did that tidbit come from? I remember learning in The Laughing Corpse that Anita had a stepmother, but I don’t remember any mention of siblings.

And in the Too Lazy To Go Look It Up category, I’m pretty sure this story has changed its tune since Guilty Pleasures:

“I was always a good girl. I didn’t sleep around. In college I met someone, we got engaged, we set a date, we made love. He dumped me.”

“He’d done all that just to get you in bed?”

[…] “His mother didn’t like my mother being Mexican.” [142]

Okay, first off, I’m pretty sure that in the first book, Anita hadn’t slept with anyone. And secondly, I think she may have mentioned that her mother was Mexican, but … wow. Racism is apparently in effect in St. Louis, the home of vampires and werewolves. The fuck?

And this is a beautiful segueway into this quote:

I also wouldn’t have chosen my boyfriend’s old lover for backup. What had Richard been thinking? Or maybe Raina hadn’t given him a choice. Her coming today, not the sex. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about that. All right. I knew how I felt. I was pissed. But I’d slept with someone else. Glass houses and all. [294]

YOU SLEPT WITH ONE OTHER PERSON. HE SLEPT WITH ANOTHER WOMAN WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER. YOU’RE JUST PISSED BECAUSE SHE’S A BITCHY WEREWOLF WHO DOESN’T LIKE YOU. SHUT UP, ANITA.

Believe it or not, there’s a little more, but I don’t want to keep talking about this book. I’m currently reading two historical romances, but my Lunch Break book is going to turn into The Runaway Jury very quickly, because … I have jury duty coming up this week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter [@WillBeFunOrElse] to stay up-to-date with my inevitable disappointment that my jury duty does not descend into Franklin & Bash-style antics.

Grade for The Lunatic Cafe: 1.5 stars

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