Laurell K. Hamilton
Published 2009 496 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain - paranormal style.
Anita heads to Vegas, where's she's joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It's a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close 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.
The Anita Blade series became something of a constant on the publishing market. With a clockwork precision we get yet another book about kick- ass vampire slayer, who raises the dead as the day time job and has something of a hectic personal life. The series took few unexpected turns over the years, transferring a pretty model urban fantasy story to the regions of BDSM flavored erotica. But the overall construction of every novel is mostly similar - there is a murder investigation, that is somehow connected to whichever badass that currently hit the town.
This time the main protagonist is known from the start. In fact he is an old acquaintance from one of the previous books, Incubus Dreams, that used to wreck havoc in the St Louis strip joints, which can make it pretty confusing for readers who have not followed the series from the start. Now Vittorio is back and ready to face Anita again and as his battle field he chose bright lights of Las Vegas.
The book begins quite nicely with nearly three hundred pages without any sexual encounters, which is quite a difference from previous titles in the series. There is some solid detective work, few rank squabbles in the police force and an encounter with the Vegas own brand of lycanthropes, in the person of tiger queen Bibiana. Anita in her search for truth is joined by her own psychotic trio of supernatural exterminators and renowned US marshals, Edward, Olaf and Bernardo and the occasional hints to all the men in her life are pretty much kept in the background.
Unfortunately afterwards the story returns to the old patterns and we have a series of backslashes to never ending rolls in the hay with Anita’s different male companions. Also the culminating scene is seriously tacky and uncomfortable. The saving grace of the novel is the fact that some overexploited subplots finally find their solution and we can hope for a whole, new pantheon of evil characters in the next part of the series.
All in all Skin Trade is by far not the worst episode of Anita Blake’s epic adventures. It’s a happy mixture of Obsidian Butterfly and Incubus Dreams, with some good old verbal insults thrown in. And no Richard – which should be a serious relief for all the fans of the series.
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