Anita Blake sits at her desk at Animators Inc., early in the day, before ever seeing any clients, opening her mail only to make a grisly discovery. Mixed in amongst her parcels is a decapitated head, wrapped in plastic and packed on ice, with a return address to Sin City, Las Vegas, NV. Calling the Las Vegas Sheriff’s Department immediately to report her find she is told that the news is worse. There’s been a slaughter of several of the city’s SWAT operators and the town’s vampire executioner who was also a federal Marshall. Where this has happened, written in the dead men's blood on the wall is a message. A message to U.S. Marshall Anita Blake that reads, “Tell Anita Blake I’ll be waiting for her.”
So begins the 17th novel in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Skin Trade. Going back to a place that the character hasn’t been in a while. Anita Blake wears her U.S. Marshall hat through out this book. She knows this is nothing more than a trap, but she must go anyway. However, she’s heartened to know that she won’t have to go alone. Reports of the massacre have gone out to all the western states U.S. Marshalls in the Preternatural branch. Luckily for Anita this would include Edward aka U.S. Marshall Ted Forester aka Death amongst the vampire community, as well as two other Marshalls.
Anita also realises that going to Vegas presents problems all on its own even without the trap. Max, the vampire Master of the City and his wife, Chang-Bibiana, Queen of the white weretigers, have wanted to get Anita to their city since the events of Blood Noir and the manipulations to Anita caused by Marmee Noir, the Mother of All Vampires.
Anita knows who has sent her the wretched present. It has to be Vittorio, serial killer and Master vampire, as well as “the one that got away.” Anita is prepared to go to any lengths to put this age old killer down, and she vows that he will not, must not escape this time. Those around her wonder if in her zeal, will Anita wind up destroying herself in the process.
I need to make it clear that Skin Trade is my favourite Anita Blake novel in quite some time. Just like with my review of Swallowing Darkness, the last Meredith Gentry novel, I was to the point with the 2 series that I could wait until the books were in paperback, but LKH changed that with this novel. By toning down the gratuitous sex and amping up the action and suspense LKH has penned a winner with Skin Trade. If you read LKH for the romance/sex you won’t be disappointed either. LKH does a balancing act that has been missing from her past few novels and reminds everyone of just what a talented storyteller she is.
Skin Trade’s pacing is phenomenal. Yet again, putting this book down will be a Herculean feat. I reckon that like me, most people will devour this novel in one sitting. You will not be disappointed buying this book in hard bound.
Skin Trade receives a Classic rating from me, 4 out of 4 stars.
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