Thursday, June 11, 2009

Skin Trade - Laurell K. Hamilton

Skin Trade
Laurell K. Hamilton
Berkley Books
Copyright Date: 2009

According to the cover of Skin Trade:
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.

My first reaction on finishing Skin Trade, the latest book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series was WOW!. Admittedly, this was at somewhere around two this morning. Which should say something. For the last three/four days, this book has kept me up far past my bedtime, because I just had to know what happened next.

In Skin Trade Hamilton has gone back, at least somewhat to the early days of the series, when most of the story was centered around the crime Anita was solving. It worked. Up until the end of the book, there's very little sex, which makes for a nice change.

There's very little from most of the main/secondary cast of characters in St. Louis, as the majority of the action takes place in Los Vegas (as anyone who follows Laurell's blog, probably knows already). At the same time, we get a lot more from Edward, Olaf and Bernardo, which is sure to please a lot of people.

The role of the were-tigers is growing as the books progress. I can't help but wonder what's going to happen in the next book, but that's how the Anita Blake books usually leave me. This one sure had a few twists, which I really don't want to spoil.

What I found though, as the book progressed, is that I'm really going to have to reread Incubus Dreams, as apparently, the villain of this book played a role in that one. Also, the events of Blood Noir come back to haunt Anita here. All of this series are interconnected now. Although I started out reading the Anita Blake books out of order as I could borrow them from the library, I wouldn't want to do that since about Narcissus In Chains. Now, I think I'd be completely lost.

There are times when I've doubted the wisdom of buying these books the day they first come out (namely with Cerulean Sins and Blood Noir, one of which I haven't read since the first time, and the second, which I didn't read until a few days ago), but not this one. I loved it, and I'm probably going to keep buying them right away. Something about this series has captured my imagination.

Unlike Blood Noir, which was quite thin, at least compared to Skin Trade and some of the other recent books, you really get your money's worth in the latest installment of the series. It is just a few pages short of five hundred pages, and packed with action.

Still, both of the two most recent books have been set outside of St. Louis, and I'm missing the interactions that go on there (although not Richard. Since Cerulean Sins I've found that I'm not that fond of him) and I hope the next book will return to the rest of the characters.

Skin Trade, although it seems to have resolved a few of the issues of recent books, has left plenty for the next books, especially if the return to solving crimes. If only the issue's that Anita's been having with the police she has to work with. Not to mention the everlasting personal issues she has.

Overall, I found that I really liked this book, and I'm inclined to think it will make both camps of Hamilton's fans happy. There's plenty there for those who like the new, relationship-centric aspects of the story, but she's returned to the crime-solving that attracted readers to the early books as well.

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