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Bloody Bones

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

Laurell K. Hamilton - Author

Paperback: Mass Market | $7.99 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9780515134469 | 384 pages | 26 Sep 2002 | Jove | 4.33 x 6.77in | 18 - AND UP
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A look that kills for the fifth Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel.

Here's a job to strain even Anita Blake's capabilities: raising an entire graveyard of two-hundred-year-old corpses.



1

IT WAS ST. Patrick’s Day, and the only green I was wearing

was a button that read, “Pinch me and you’re dead

meat.” I’d started work last night with a green blouse on, but

I’d gotten blood all over it from a beheaded chicken. Larry

Kirkland, zombie-raiser in training, had dropped the decapitated

bird. It did the little headless chicken dance and

sprayed both of us with blood. I finally caught the damn

thing, but the blouse was ruined.

I had to run home and change. The only thing not ruined

was the charcoal grey suit jacket that had been in the car. I

put it back on over a black blouse, black skirt, dark hose,

and black pumps. Bert, my boss, didn’t like us wearing

black to work, but if I had to be at the office at seven o’clock

without any sleep at all, he would just have to live with it.

I huddled over my coffee mug, drinking it as black as I

could swallow it. It wasn’t helping much. I stared at a series

of 8-by-10 glossy blowups spread across my desktop. The

first picture was of a hill that had been scraped open, probably

by a bulldozer. A skeletal hand reached out of the raw

earth. The next photo showed that someone had tried to

carefully scrape away the dirt, showing the splintered coffin

and bones to one side of the coffin. A new body. The bulldozer

had been brought in again. It had plowed up the red

earth and found a boneyard. Bones studded the earth like

scattered flowers.

One skull spread its unhinged jaws in a silent scream. A

scraggle of pale hair still clung to the skull. The dark,

stained cloth wrapped around the corpse was the remnants

of a dress. I spotted at least three femurs next to the upper

half of a skull. Unless the corpse had had three legs, we were

looking at a real mess.

The pictures were well done in a gruesome sort of way.

The color made it easier to differentiate the corpses, but the

high gloss was a little much. It looked like morgue photos

done by a fashion photographer. There was probably an art

gallery in New York that would hang the damn things and

serve cheese and wine while people walked around saying,

“Powerful, don’t you think? Very powerful.”

They were powerful, and sad.

There was nothing but the photos. No explanation. Bert

had said to come to his office after I’d looked at them. He’d

explain everything. Yeah, I believed that. The Easter Bunny

is a friend of mine, too.

I gathered the pictures up, slipped them into the envelope,

picked my coffee mug up in the other hand, and went for the

door.

There was no one at the desk. Craig had gone home.

Mary, our daytime secretary, didn’t get in until eight. There

was a two-hour space of time when the office was unmanned.

That Bert had called me into the office when we

were the only ones there bothered me a lot. Why the secrecy?

Bert’s office door was open. He sat behind his desk,

drinking coffee, shuffling some papers around. He glanced

up, smiled, and motioned me closer. The smile bothered me.

Bert was never pleasant unless he wanted something.

His thousand-dollar suit framed a white-on-white shirt

and tie. His grey eyes sparkled with good cheer. His eyes are

the color of dirty window glass, so sparkling is a real effort.

His snow-blond hair had been freshly buzzed. The crewcut

was so short I could see scalp.

“Have a seat, Anita.”

I tossed the envelope on his desk and sat down. “What are

you up to, Bert?”

His smile widened. He usually didn’t waste the smile on

anybody but clients. He certainly didn’t waste it on me.

“You looked at the pictures?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“Could you raise them from the dead?”

I frowned at him and sipped my coffee. “How old are

they?”

“You couldn’t tell from the pictures?”

“In person I could tell you, but not just from pictures. Answer

the question.”

“Around two hundred years.”

I just stared at him. “Most animators couldn’t raise a zombie

that old without a human sacrifice.”

“But you can,” he said.

“Yeah. I didn’t see any headstones in the pictures. Do we

have any names?”

“Why?”

I shook my head. He’d been the boss for five years,

started the company when it was just him and Manny, and

he didn’t know shit about raising the dead. “How can you

hang around a bunch of zombie-raisers for this many years

and know so little about what we do?”

The smile slipped a little, the glow beginning to fade from

his eyes. “Why do you need names?”

“You use names to call the zombie from the grave.”

“Without a name you can’t raise them?”

“Theoretically, no,” I said.

“But you can do it,” he said. I didn’t like how sure he was.

“Yeah, I can do it. John can probably do it, too.”

He shook his head. “They don’t want John.”

I finished the last of my coffee. “Who’s they?”

“Beadle, Beadle, Stirling, and Lowenstein.”

“A law firm,” I said.

He nodded.

“No more games, Bert. Just tell me what the hell’s going

on.”

“Beadle, Beadle, Stirling, and Lowenstein have some

clients building a very plush resort in the mountains near

Branson. A very exclusive resort. A place where the wealthy

country stars that don’t own a house in the area can go to get

away from the crowds. Millions of dollars are at stake.”

“What’s the old cemetery have to do with it?”

“The land they’re building on was in dispute between two

3

families. The courts decided the Kellys owned the land, and

they were paid a great deal of money. The Bouvier family

claimed it was their land and there was a family plot on it to

prove it. No one could find the cemetery.”

Ah. “They found it,” I said.

“They found an old cemetery, but not necessarily the

Bouvier family plot.”

“So they want to raise the dead and ask who they are?”

“Exactly.”

I shrugged. “I can raise a couple of the corpses in the

coffins. Ask who they are. What happens if their last name

is Bouvier?”

“They have to buy the land a second time. They think

some of the corpses are Bouviers. That’s why they want all

the bodies raised.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You’re joking.”

He shook his head, looking pleased. “Can you do it?”

“I don’t know. Give me the pictures again.” I set my coffee

mug on his desk and took the pictures back. “Bert,

they’ve screwed this six ways to Sunday. It’s a mass grave,

thanks to the bulldozers. The bones are all mixed together.

I’ve only read about one case of anyone raising a zombie

from a mass grave. But they were calling a specific person.

They had a name.” I shook my head. “Without a name it

may not be possible.”

“Would you be willing to try?”

I spread the pictures over the desk, staring at them. The

top half of a skull had turned upside down like a bowl. Two

finger bones attached by something dry and desiccated that

must once had been human tissue lay next to it. Bones,

bones everywhere but not a name to speak.

Could I do it? I honestly didn’t know. Did I want to try?

Yeah. I did.

“I’d be willing to try.”

“Wonderful.”

“Raising them a few every night is going to take weeks,

even if I can do it. With John’s help it would be quicker.”

“It will cost them millions to delay that long,” Bert said.

“There’s no other way to do it.”

“Highly-charged, well-written, no holds-barred… jaw-dropping.”—Denver Post

“Breathtaking.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“What The Da Vinci Code did for the religious thriller, the Anita Blake series has done for the vampire novel.”—USA Today


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