FROM THE BOOKJACKET:Skin Trade is the seventeenth Anita Blake book in one of the longest and most successful running urban fantasy franchises. The author brings back together the main characters from Obsidian Butterfly, with Edward, Olaf and Bernardo all joining Anita in Las Vegas to hunt Vittorio the rogue vampire from Incubus Dreams.
Once you tell someone certain things—say, you got mailed a human head in a box—they tend to think you're crazy.
Anita Blake's reputation has taken some hits. Not on the work front, where she has the highest kill count of all the legal vampire executioners in the country, but on the personal front. No one seems to trust a woman who sleeps with the monsters. Still, when a vampire serial killer sends her a head from Las Vegas, Anita has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Police officers and one executioner have been slain—paranormal style...
Anita heads to Las Vegas, where she's joined by three other U. S. Marshals, including the ruthless Edward hiding behind his mild-mannered persona. It's a good thing Edward always has her back because when she gets close t to the bodies, Anita senses "tiger" too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher...
On one level this is the best Anita Blake book in many years, with a much stronger focus on the central mystery. Hamilton apparently did quite a bit of police procedural research for this book and on Las Vegas itself and it shows, with richer narrative and description, many interesting forensic details and location settings.
On the other hand the wheels seem to have come off the cart, or at least are significantly wobbling, when it comes to character development and world-building. The story appears to take place a few months after the events of Blood Noir and we learn that Anita and her men are now living at the Circus of the Damned to bolster Jean Claude’s credibility among the other Masters, demonstrating that he has control over his human servant. Jean Claude is upset with Anita over her trip to Vegas and Anita is actually worried – at odds and with no fight in her about it. Likewise her feelings about kowtowing to living at the Circus.
Throughout the story Anita frequently reacts or rather fails to react in typical angry fashion and internally frequently reflects on her new maturity. She is overly introspective. She has another girl-on-girl moment with Belle Morte. No significant reaction. Anita spends much of the novel hanging with her assassin/federal marshall posse and plays extensive serial killer head games with Olaf. Her rationalization for some of the things she considers are downright bizarre. Bernardo the most normal of the abnormal bunch is constantly asking what is going on, what do you mean by that, I don’t understand. As a reader I was right there with Bernardo.
Marmee Noir pulls another incident like she did in Blood Noir and Anita spends little time railing about the consequences, although even she is a little squicked by having “done it” with a sixteen year-old weretiger (at least he’s legal in Nevada she rationalizes).
One of the stranger attributes of the world-building in this book is the existence of a special squad in Vegas consisting of human psychics of various flavours. The Anitaverse just joined the world of the Xmen. Where did this come from? It felt so totally jarring based on all of the previous history of the series.
Anita also seems to have greater control over some aspects of her metaphysics and in particular the ardeur. The sex is really toned down and actually fits well within the story. A little humour is even injected into a key scene -
"Let the ardeur out, and I'll go faster." He kept that careful rhythm going, though I could feel the tension in his body as he fought himselfLaurell K. Hamilton may be trying to shift Anita’s character in new directions, perhaps to put the series on a new and fresher track for moving the series forward out of the metaphysical spiral that it has been in for some time., If true that is perhaps a good thing, but the Anita of Skin Trade is not the Anita of the previous sixteen books and there is not a lot to justify the character change. The series for me continues to struggle and I truly hope that Anita can find her way clear to a new path in the future. Fans may want to wait for the paperback release rather than lay out the significant cost for the hardback.
"Harder," I said.
“Ardeur, " he said, in a voice that showed the strain, like the trembling of his muscles, as he fought to be so careful of me. I didn't want him, to be careful.
AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Laurell K. Hamilton Website
Penguin Group (USA)
Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series: