Skin Trade - Laurell K Hamilton

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)

Paranormal 999 Challenge/100+ Challenge

(Publisher Bits)
Once you tell someone certain things, like, 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. Several officers and one executioner have been slain -- paranormal style!

Anita heads to Las Vegas, where she's joined by three other federal 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 to the bodies, Anita senses "tiger" too strongly to ignore it. The were-tigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher!
(My Turn)

First up - I've been a loyal fan for YEARS - and I know that LKH has taken hits for a bunch of issues and mostly I've been oh well it's her world - BUT NOW I'M BITCHING! I read this series because the main character is a female. Plain & simple. I enjoy the fact that Anita has Boobs & a gun (or several LOL). It has always given me great pleasure to say you go girl, know what I mean? But OMFG, this book repeated over & over & over & over that Anita should "grow some balls", "be a man", and my personal favorite "stop being such a girl". What type of lesson is this giving women of all ages. Are we reverting back to the 1950s housewife? If that's the case, then I vote Nathaniel in a sheer robe & pearls, thank you. He is the ONLY character that even comes close to fitting the bill for that stereotype. End Rant!

Now I realize that a lot of people have been bitching about the overt & ostentatious sexual style that LKH has started using, but personally I've enjoyed the decadence of the later books. After all the series is maturing and everyone has their right to fantasy, if you don't like it quit reading it - it's that simple folks. However, for those of you that kept reading, yet silent (or not so silently) cursing the sex, your prayers have been (mostly) answered - Skin Trade is almost a flash back to the "old school" Anita Blake supernatural detective thriller. The sex has been limited.

I also found the absolute absence of most of the the political to-ing and fro-ing made for a much more refreshing read - because let's face it, we already knew that Anita has issues kneeling & bowing even if it is only show - enough already - you're beating a dead horse. There's some bounce with the cop works, but hey that's life.

While there is almost no direct appearance of any of the recurring secondary characters (Jean-Claude, Micah, etc), I found this to be mostly relaxing (no whiney Richard or morose London) it was a bit disappointing, because I am always looking for a favorite character or two to return. I had hoped to enjoy the return of Edward but since he was a primary contribitor to the "stop being a girl" moments (see earlier rant) I will simply say, The toy king shows up & make a bit of an impact, but now I find myself hoping he'll get shot soon. And I'm extremely happy with the return of Wicked Truth.

All in all, this book has apparently reset the Anita - here's to hoping that LKH has returned to the story telling yester year when there was an actual mystery to solve.

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