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Sucker Punch is the 27th book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series of horror/mystery/erotica novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. The novel was released on August 4, 2020.


From publisher:

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.



Takes place during the year following Affliction (November/December), an unspecified time after Dead Ice (May) and Crimson Death (July), and at least a few months after Serpentine ('a few months, less than a year' after Crimson Death, but during summer heat). Serpentine's time indicators make it sound like it's possibly even placed during the following summer already, but that would move Sucker Punch too far from Affliction and Hit List. On the other hand, it would move Sucker Punch far enough from Narcissus in Chains.

Time markers:

  • Time since previous novels:
    • Following year from Affliction.[1]
    • Two years after Hit List.[2][3][4]
    • More than three years and less than four years after The Harlequin (December)[5]
    • Five years from Narcissus in Chains[6] Note that this conflicts with the other time markers, according to the Timeline Narcissus in Chains was in June four years before Crimson Death. Even late December would only place Sucker Punch four and a half years after those events. Serpentine has this same inconsistency.
  • More vague time references to previous novels:
    • Micah was years ago.[7] (November of the same years as Narcissus in Chains)
    • Blood Noir was a couple of years ago.[8] (June of the year following Narcissus in Chains, i.e. over 3 years ago, or four years ago if Narcissus in Chains really happened five years ago)
    • Bullet happened within the last few years.[9] (July two years before Crimson Death)
    • Serpentine probably happened at least a few months ago. Micah feeling better about dating Anita, Nathaniel, and Jean-Claude than a few months ago[10] is likely a reference to Micah feeling crowded in Serpentine, and all the references to Edward's wedding also sound like it happened a while ago.
  • Season hints:
    • Darkness falls pretty much instantly after sunset.[11]
    • When Anita arrives it's a dark night of the day after the dark of the moon. [12]
    • Outside of town it's even darker.[13]
    • There are no references of snow, cold or hot temperatures, flowers, insects, seasonal animals, colorful leaves, or other such things that might give a hint for the time of year. Given that Anita is driven up to a mansion, albeit at night[14], and even walks in a forest for a bit one morning[15], that might hint towards early or late fall (before or after the colorful parts of it, not during), or early enough spring that there is no longer any snow but also no new growth yet to pay special attention to.
      • It's probably not winter, or snow would get mentioned during the forest walk at the very least (whether present or unexpected lack of it for Michigan wilderness).
      • It's probably not summer, or either heat or contrast to St. Louis summers would likely get mentioned.
      • It's probably not peak of fall, because the forests are mentioned several times without references to fall colors.
      • It's probably not spring after it has awakened, as Anita thinks the forest she walks in might have a bog nearby, and reminisces about another marshy forest from her childhood. Her memories focus particularly on frogs singing there in spring, but the only feature of those memories that she notes as being present in her current situation is the smell of water in transition between pond and soil.[15] Unless the reminiscing itself is meant to draw those parallels, in which case Affliction definitely didn't happen 'last year'.

Other time-related indicators:

  • Olaf hasn't been out of the country in years[19], which means that when he was lying low after getting turned into a werelion in Hit List, he did that within the U.S.
  • Anita hasn't been camping in nearly ten years.[20] However, Anita mentions having been on a camping trip in The Killing Dance (a year before Narcissus in Chains) and having given a fossil she found to Richard because he collects those kinds of things and she doesn't.[21] Rounding up six or seven years into 'almost ten' feels a bit weird, but the book doesn't specify when exactly the camping trip happened. She was dating Richard for half a year before The Killing Dance, and rounding up eight into 'almost ten' doesn't sound entirely implausible. Anita might have also found the fossil on one of her camping trips at college[22] or earlier[23], and kept it for several years even if she doesn't usually collect things like that.
  • Time indicators still to be placed:
    • It's been a few years since Anita stopped taking over warrants for any other reason than the first marshal being too injured or dead to continue.[24]
    • It's been a few years since Anita has seen a shapeshifter thoroughly pass out after changing back to human form. [25]





Publication history[]

Imprint / Publisher Country Release Date Format ISBN
Berkley / Penguin Random House USA Aug 4, 2020 Hardcover 978-1984804433
eBook 9781984804457 [26]
tba Paperback tba
Penguin Audio / Penguin Random House USA Aug 4, 2020 Audiobook 978-0593215289 [26]
BoT / Penguin Random House USA Aug 4, 2020 Audiobook 978-0593215296 [27]
Headline UK, AU Aug 4, 2020 Hardcover 978-1472241825 [28][29]
eBook 978-1472241849 [28][30]
Paperback 978-1472241832 [28]


  • Hamilton had begun writing the book by September 2018, which she revealed during her book tour for the previous novel Serpentine. Hamilton announced that she had signed a contract for another Anita Blake book and had already begun writing.[31]
  • In February 2019, Hamilton hinted that she was re-reading Bullet as research for the new book.[32]
  • In May 2019, the completed draft was sent to Hamilton's editor.[33]


Anita Blake Series

01. Guilty Pleasures • 02. The Laughing Corpse • 03. Circus of the Damned • 04. The Lunatic Cafe • 05. Bloody Bones • 06. The Killing Dance • 07. Burnt Offerings • 08. Blue Moon • 09. Obsidian Butterfly • 10. Narcissus in Chains • 11. Cerulean Sins • 12. Incubus Dreams • 13. Micah • 14. Danse Macabre • 15. The Harlequin • 16. Blood Noir • 17. Skin Trade • 18. Flirt • 19. Bullet • 20. Hit List • 21. Kiss the Dead • 22. Affliction • 23. Jason • 24. Dead Ice • 25. Crimson Death • 26. Serpentine • 27. Sucker Punch (novel) • 28. Rafael

Short Stories Magic Like Heat Across My SkinBlood Upon My LipsThe Girl who was Infatuated with DeathThose Who Seek ForgivenessSelling HousesBeautyDancingShutdownA Girl, a Goat, and a ZombieWoundedSweet Seduction
Comics The First DeathGuilty Pleasures & HandbookThe Laughing CorpseCircus of the Damned


  1. Sucker Punch, chapter 21: Last year I’d raised a zombie army to combat one raised by an ancient evil vampire.
  2. Sucker Punch, chapter 01: "You were exactly what your name says when I met you, Newman, but that was a couple of years ago."
  3. Sucker Punch, chapter 03: That seemed reasonable to Leduc; if it didn't to Newman, he didn't show it. Either he'd learned to hide his emotions in the years since I'd met him, or he trusted my more experienced call.
  4. Sucker Punch, chapter 31: "You've been doing this barely two years."
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sucker Punch, chapter 08: Peter had nearly died saving me from a weretiger when he was only sixteen. He was about to turn twenty.
  6. Sucker Punch, chapter 22: Micah was my one, but he'd come into my life too late to be my only. He and I had been an item for five years, but we'd never been a traditional couple. We'd always been a threesome with Nathaniel, not a twosome.
  7. Sucker Punch, chapter 21: I'd popped as having leopard-based lycanthropy years ago.
  8. Sucker Punch, chapter 37, Olaf and Anita:
    "How long have you been able to do this feeding on anger?"
    "A couple of years."
  9. Sucker Punch, chapter 53: I'd only added women to my dating pool in the last few years.
  10. Sucker Punch, chapter 22: "One of the perks of the three of us dating him," he said like it was a given, when just a few months ago he wouldn't have said it that casually.
  11. Sucker Punch, chapter 01: I'd had just a moment to see the forest, and then it was dark as if someone had turned the lights off. You know you're in the boondocks when it's that dark even before you step into the trees; in their shade, it would be cave dark.
  12. Sucker Punch, chapter 01, Anita and Newman:
    "It's a dark night up here," I said.
    "The cloud cover is thick tonight, but if it clears off, you’ll see stars here like I've never seen outside of the desert or the ocean"
    "It's not just cloud cover, Newman. Last night was the dark of the moon, and tonight won’t be much brighter."
  13. Sucker Punch, chapter 07: Once we left the town behind, it got seriously black, with the trees like half-seen giants on either side of the road. This far from the full moon on a cloudy night, the headlights seemed to carve tunnels out of the darkness.
  14. Sucker Punch, chapter 09
  15. 15.0 15.1 Sucker Punch, chapter 29
  16. Sucker Punch, chapter 15: "I'm thirty-two."
  17. Sucker Punch, chapter 32, Anita, Livinston, and Kaitlin:
    "Okay, I give—how old is she (Hazel)?"
    "Just turned thirty."
    I blinked at him (Livingston). "I'm older than she is. I wouldn't have called that."
    "Me either," Kaitlin said. "I thought you were my age."
    "How old are you?"
    "I smiled and shook my head. "I've got you by seven years."
  18. Sucker Punch, chapter 16, Newman to Anita: "You're only two years older than me, Blake."
  19. Sucker Punch, chapter 79, Olaf's postcard to Edward: "My first trip outside the country in years."
  20. Sucker Punch, chapter 52: I hadn't been camping in nearly ten years.
  21. The Killing Dance, chapter 10, in Richard's bedroom: I studied the contents of the built-in shelves on his bedroom wall like I'd memorize them. Bits of quartz, a small bird's nest. There was a lump of fossilized coral as big as my hand, a dark rich gold in color with streaks of white quartz. I'd found it on a camping trip and given it to him because he collected bits and pieces, and I didn't.
  22. The Lunatic Cafe, chapter 22: Before Bert found me and showed me how to use my talent for money, I'd had a life. I'd gone hiking, camping. I'd been a biology major and thought I'd go on for my master's and doctorate and study preternatural creatures for the rest of my life. Sort of the preternatural Jane Goodall.
  23. Affliction, chapter 05: I knew that Micah had been his father's hunting buddy, as I'd been for mine. We'd both grown up hunting and camping.
  24. Sucker Punch, chapter 06:
    "I know that, Newman. I just meant that I'm not up here to take over the warrant. I stopped pinch-hitting on warrants of execution a few years back. The only reason I'll take over a warrant now is if the first marshal is too injured to continue."
    "Or dead," Newman said.
    I nodded. "Or that."
  25. Sucker Punch, chapter 12:
    "I'd swear he (Bobby) was out cold, Blake. I've seen a few other humans that passed out after the change. They were out of it. You could burn a house down around them, and they wouldn't wake up to save themselves."
    "I know. I've seen it, too." In my head I thought, Not in a few years. I'd been hanging around with too many powerful shapeshifters. Once you reached a certain power level, you didn't pass out when you went back to human. You could be tired, but it wasn't the coma state that new shapeshifters fell into or, like Bobby, never outgrew. It meant he was a seriously low-level cat. No wonder he hadn't wanted to stay with whatever leopard group had trained him to control his beast. No one wants to be the lowest man or woman on the totem pole.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Penguin Random House: Sucker Punch
  27. BOT (Books on Tape) website listing for Sucker Punch audiobook. Note: BoT differs from Penguin Audio in that it specializes in audiobooks for schools and libraries, per wikipedia and the company's about us page.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Hachette (Australia publisher) listing for Sucker Punch.
  29. Headline listing for Sucker Punch hardcover.
  30. Headline listing for Sucker Punch ebook.
  31. Laurell K. Hamilton's Instagram: Because it’s Monday y’all! And I’m writing the new Anita Blake novel. I’ll be doing more posts about Serpentine, but as always happens the new book hits the shelves about the time I need to start working on the next one. So here’s to hot caffeine and getting motivated. September 10, 2019.
  32. Laurell K Hamilton's blog: The next Anita Blake novel… February 06, 2019.
  33. Laurell K. Hamilton Tweeted: The next #AnitaBlake novel is DONE and off to my editor! (Should have a release date to share soon!) Also on Instagram. May 28, 2019.