The Harlequin serve Marmee Noir, Mother Darkest, and they have made a try at Anita Blake before. But that was in St. Louis, at the heart of her power, and with all her friends, lovers and guardians around her. Since Anita is also a Federal Marshall, the Harlequin have decided to lure Anita out of her home by killing Wereanimals, specifically Weretigers, which are her animal to call, in several different states, knowing Anita will be called out to try and figure out who is doing the killing, and to try and put a stop to it.
Anita ends up in Oregon, leading a bunch of Federal Agents alongside Ted Forrester, better known to her as Edward, serial killer and monster hunter, but the local marshall, Raborn, thinks that Anita has sold out because of her relationship with monsters, and wants her taken off the case. One of the Marshals she is assigned, Laila Kalborn, has never been on a hunt before, which makes her a liability to the whole case. Anita decides to talk with her, but before she can really ask Laila to hand over the case to the more experienced Marshals, Anita and Edward included, they are attacked in their hotel room and Laila is injured by one of the Harlequin, a wereanimal. Laila, who is severely injured, is taken to the hospital, where she finds she has been infected with lycanthropy of the Wolf variety. Anita tries her best to convince Laila that this isn't the end of the world, and that she and her family can survive this blow.
But almost immediately, Anita is assigned another Marshal, also with no experience in the hunt, and finds out that two more Federal Marshals, Bernardo and Otto, who happens to be another serial killer, named Olaf, to the hunt. Olaf is fixed on Anita, thinking he can have her as a lover and not want to kill her, because she fits his preferred type of victim. But Olaf is also jealous that he can't be the only man in her life, so when Anita is injured in the line of duty because she hasn't fed the Ardeur which is a part of her, Edward takes her to see one of her lovers a weretiger journalist named Alex. Alex is a red tiger, but the Queen of the Tigers here doesn't want Anita to see Alex, because he is the Prince, and it could cause them problems if she bewitches the Prince of the Clan.
Instead, Anita is allowed to meet Ethan, a mixed blood weretiger that is red, blue and white. Anita is being thrown Ethan as a bone, since if she bewitches him, there isn't much loss to the clan. But Anita notices that he also has a strain of golden tiger in him as well. She doesn't get a chance to be with him before the Harlequin attacks, but she manages to beat them off with the help of the Weretigers. Ethan begs to be allowed to come with her, because not only does the clan dislike him, they don't even allow him to cuddle up with the rest of them, and he's hungry for skin to skin contact. Anita agrees, but since the Harlequin are taking out weretigers, she also doesn't want to end up with Ethan being killed because of her. Still, it's likely he will be killed anyway just because of his ancestry, and Anita tries to keep him safe.
But it soon becomes clear that Anita cannot forestall a confrontation with Marmee Noir forever, and if she wants to stop the killings and have any hope of being safe, she is going to have to stop following the killers and take the battle to them if she wants to triumph. But do Anita and the friends she has with her have any hope of stopping Marmee Noir? Can Anita prevent Mother Darkest from taking her over and using her body as Marmee Noir's latest meat puppet? And how can Anita stop a woman who has no real body and is only a spirit, anyhow?
I actually rather enjoyed this book, as it was all about Anita having real consequences for her actions, and she couldn't deal with a lot of her problems simply by pulling more powers out of her ass to deal with it. She had to talk to Laila's family simply as a human and a Marshal, and had to make Laila and her family see that she wasn't going to become some kind of monster simply because she got infected with Werewolf Lycanthropy.
Nor can she deal with Ethan's problem with her powers. He's being criminally underused where he is simply because of his mixed background, and while it does take Anita's powers to pull out the Golden Tiger in him, in a sense, her powers are causing all the problems in the first place, as it is Anita's powers that are causing Marmee Noir to go after her in the first place. And while she may add another lover to her posse that help her feed the Ardeur, she also has another problem looming in Olaf, who now knows she will never be his. And he's returned to his serial killer ways (but really, who didn't see THAT coming?) by the end of the book.
Will Anita's next job be in taking down Otto/Olaf for the Marshals? And will this end the whole Monster Hunters as Marshals thing, because if it turns out the Marshals didn't know about Olaf's "extracurricular activities", it could still be bad for them. And if they did, well, that opens up a whole new world of hurt, on not only the Marshals, but Anita, Ted/Edward, and the others. This was an interesting, enjoyable book that looks to have far-reaching consequences for Anita and her friends. Let's hope, anyway. Recommended.