I think the appropriate place to start is with the sheer size of this novel. You could literally commit a crime with the hardback copy, that is how large this book is. At over 700 pages it is more than a healthy portion for a bookworm. When you write a novel the size of War and Peace then you should make sure it holds up its end of the bargain. Personally I believe the sheer volume has a detrimental effect on the story.
Unfortunately Hamilton spends a lot of time on superfluous dialogues, interactions and sub-plots. You could cut the book by at least 350 pages and still have a decent or rather your expected Hamilton read. It takes at least that long to actually get to Edward, Ireland and the main plot.
The first book I ever read in the Anita Blake series was Skin Trade (#17), which is a pretty good example of Hamilton at her finest. Based on that book I went back to the first book and started reading from the beginning, but Skin Trade has always remained a favourite.
I’m not sure why Hamilton feels the need to infuse her books with so much of her own personal life and sexual preferences. It is quite simply pernicious to the majority of her stories. At some point a decent editor should have trimmed and let her know just how many pages are filled with unnecessary information.
Aside from that Hamilton also brings her own confused views on consent into her books. Quite shocking at times. Then there are her bizarre views on how her characters all need to join in on the big poly amorous lifestyle. There just simply aren’t enough hours in the day when it comes to fitting in all the fuck buddies.
Whatever happened to the dangerous vampire hunter and the necromancer? When did she turn into the sex-obsessed sad little character, who doesn’t shy away from minors, non-consenting partners and worse. Where is the strong woman who used to be more interested in killing evil supernatural monsters than in how doable the woman and men around her are?
Overall Crimson Death is a disappointment, because you can see shimmers of the pre-sex-obsessed writer Hamilton in the midst of the travesty the now-Hamilton calls urban fantasy. I hope the author will eventually go back to her basic roots and gives us the story we know she is capable of.