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 since previous novels:
- Following year from Affliction.
- Two years after Hit List.
- More than three years and less than four years after The Harlequin (December)
- Five years from Narcissus in Chains 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. (November of the same years as Narcissus in Chains)
- Blood Noir was a couple of years ago. (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. (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 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.
- When Anita arrives it's a dark night of the day after the dark of the moon. 
- Outside of town it's even darker.
- 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, and even walks in a forest for a bit one morning, 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. Unless the reminiscing itself is meant to draw those parallels, in which case Affliction definitely didn't happen 'last year'.
Other time-related indicators:
- Anita Blake is 32 Note that Anita's age in the novels has some inconsistencies; see the inconsistencies section of the Timeline article.
- Peter Parnell is 19, about to turn 20
- Winston Newman is two years younger than Anita, i.e. 30 (or maybe only 28, if adjusted by the inconsistencies).
- Olaf hasn't been out of the country in years, 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. 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. 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 or earlier, and kept it for several years even if she doesn't usually collect things like that.
- Time indicators still to be placed:
|Imprint / Publisher||Country||Release Date||Format||ISBN|
|Berkley / Penguin Random House||USA||Aug 4, 2020||Hardcover||978-1984804433|
|Penguin Audio / Penguin Random House||USA||Aug 4, 2020||Audiobook||978-0593215289 |
|BoT / Penguin Random House||USA||Aug 4, 2020||Audiobook||978-0593215296 |
|Headline||UK, AU||Aug 4, 2020||Hardcover||978-1472241825 |
- 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.
- In February 2019, Hamilton hinted that she was re-reading Bullet as research for the new book.
- In May 2019, the completed draft was sent to Hamilton's editor.
|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 Skin • Blood Upon My Lips • The Girl who was Infatuated with Death • Those Who Seek Forgiveness • Selling Houses • Beauty • Dancing • Shutdown • A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie • Wounded • Sweet Seduction|
|Comics||The First Death • Guilty Pleasures & Handbook • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned|