"An ambiguously coded figure, a source of both erotic anxiety and corrupt desire, the literary vampire is one of the most powerful archetypes bequeathed to us from the imagination of the nineteenth century." ~ page 2 introduction to Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture
Intellectual Vampire Quote
"If the vampire is an other, he or she was always a figure in whom one could find one's self...the despicable as well as the defiant, the shameful as well as the unashamed, the loathing of oddness as well as pride in it." ~ Richard Dyer
Skin Trade, Book 17 of the Anita Blake series, again takes Anita away from home and away from the men in her life, at least her main men.
After receiving a head in a box that was shipped to her at Animators, Inc from a Las Vegas address, Anita calls the Las Vegas police and finds that the head belonged to their vampire executioner and the killer left a note in blood on the wall at the crime scene for Anita. The killer isn't subtle at all, he clearly wants Anita and Anita has a pretty good idea that the killer is Vittorio, a really powerful vamp she's tangled with before.
Without much thought Anita leaves St Louis without telling any of her sweeties, except Jason, goodbye. She knows Jean-Claude will be super angry when he awakes to find her gone but hey it's her job, right?
Soon Anita is in Vegas and reunited with Edward, AKA Ted Forrester US Marshal, along with his crew-Olaf and Bernardo.
I love when Edward is in the picture, there's something about him that really makes me want to know more. He and Anita have such an intense and complex relationship which is odd because he's the only guy she never thinks about sleeping with. In this book their relationship is scrutinized and becomes even more odd and questionable but they always have each other's back. The creepy part is Olaf, he is so weird and gives me the heebie jeebies, much like he does Anita only worse. And to make matters worse, Olaf like likes Anita. Not like as in wants to kill her but likes as in wants to date/be with her. That makes him even creepier. Edward has to run interference between them and try to keep Olaf from getting too close to Anita.
The police are very leery of Anita in Vegas and question the heck out of her before she can do a thing. After getting through 20 million questions and tests she is trying to figure out what killed the members of the SWAT team and their vampire executioner while being pulled by the tigers in the city and deciding how to handle going into the Max, the Master of the City's home with his tiger wife, Chang Bibiana. Anita now has several types of tiger inside her that all want the tigers she feels in the city. Top all that off with the psychics in the area that keep trying to get Anita to let down her shields so she can be tested and that when that happens Marme Noir comes crashing through. Which is never, ever, good.
So as always Anita is being pulled in a hundred different directions and being set up for danger from numerous enemies all while trying to figure out the crime and catch the bad guy.
I liked that LKH seems to be taking Anita back to her roots, kicking ass and taking names without the overload of sex, sex, sex. Which don't get me wrong, I love the sex scenes but when you read one of the books and it's nothing but a non stop orgy and almost nothing else...well it can grate on your nerves when you were hoping for some good plots and story lines to twist around in your head. In Skin Trade you get about 3/4 through the book before hitting a sex scene, woo hoo! Instead you get a lot of action and character development along with a lot that will just add to the overall wonder of what is next and what is up with the characters.
Edward is such a complex character I can't wait to see where LKH goes with him. Olaf, I can do without but he so adds to the creep factor.
I have to admit though after two books in a row with Anita out of town I am missing her main squeezes. I really like Micah and Nathaniel and miss them. I also miss Jean-Claude and even miss the interaction with Richard, though I hate Richard's character flaws... and they are many.
***Possible mini spoiler ahead***
It was interesting to see Anita interact with the tigers and with a few vamps she never really has before. And I can't wait to see what happens back in St Louis since Anita goes home with more baggage than she left with...aka more men. Just what she needs. Especially when throughout the book she laments on the fact that she is never alone and can not be alone since she needs to feed the ardeur.
Anita also seems to be losing steam, she grows tired of the death and chaos and being the bad guy, the monster that kills the other monsters but she also realizes she is what she is and can't run from herself. Anita's character has grown and changed so much since the first book and I am glad LKH has no plans on ending the series anytime soon. I just hope the books stay more like this, lots of action, plots, and subplots with some sex tossed in. Yes the sex scenes are hotter than freaking hot but I crave a storyline, I want more interaction than who's doing who.
The one thing I did not like about this book was that a few things were very anti-climactic for me...like the end and the whole deal with the Mother of Darkness, though that can't be the last we'll hear from her...could it? I just expected...more I guess.
Anyway, Skin Trade proves why LKH books debut on the NYT bestseller list. This was old school, hardcore Anita Blake at her best.