The Lunatic Cafe starts with a man contacting our Anita through her animator's job not for the usual reasons, but to help with a missing person's case. His wife, a lycanthrope, has gone missing. Anita, not trained in missing person's case, refers him to her friend, Ronnie Sims, only to later discover that this woman was only one in a line of missing lycanthropes. She calls in her beau Richard for help, and we're introduced to the werewolf pack he's one step away from heading.
In the meantime, there is a lot going on in Anita's dating life. Her relationship with Richard is strained when she learns just what being the girlfriend of an alpha werewolf truly means, and our favorite master vampire Jean-Claude swoops in and demands his share of quality time with our girl before he's willing to back down and let Richard have Anita's heart all to himself. This promises much more face time with Jean-Claude in the next novels, and I personally couldn't be happier. Richard is awesome, he's a sweetheart with long silky brown hair and an Abercrombie body, a teacher still trying to come to terms with his bestial side. But he is no Jean-Claude. Enough said.
The Lunatic Cafe is quite possibly my favorite in this series so far. Hamilton stays true to the noir, police investigation + superntatural baddies themes that have made her series so popular, but in this installment we get more of Anita's personal life than in the previous three. Her relationships are unusual to say the least. She's got to deal with the domestic stuff in between her gun-ladden, life threatening adventures, and to say that the transition isn't a smooth one would be an understatement. The rising sexual tension adds yet another reason to keep the pages turning. This all makes for a fun, addictive, and slightly humorous read.
That said, all the things I found annoying in the other books are still present here. Anita's badass-ness seems shoved down our throats from time to time, and her tough-as-nails attitude occasionally makes her a less sympathetic character than I would have wanted. But these qualms are an integral part of the series, and at this point they're easier than ever to overlook.
The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton - 4 out of 5 stars.