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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...

486 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2009

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About the author

Laurell K. Hamilton

320 books23.7k followers
Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the leading writers of paranormal fiction. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Hamilton writes the popular Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels and the Meredith Gentry series. She is also the creator of a bestselling comic book series based on her Anita Blake novels and published by Marvel Comics. Hamilton is a full-time writer and lives in the suburbs of St. Louis with her family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,231 reviews
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,350 reviews821 followers
September 15, 2014
'Shut up...And can take the offer so we can all sleep.'

The Real Plot Summary:

Anita Sue: I am SO much tougher and better at this than those wimpy women in my office, who are clutching their pearls in the other room and sobbing into the Manly Men's chests! I can stare at this head in a box and be TOUGH. And MANLY. Because I'm the manliest woman. And I'm TOUGH.

*Anita Sue calls Las Vegas PD*

Shaw: You are in St. Louis and I am in Las Vegas, but I have heard how you sleep with everything with a dick. You are a slut.

AS: No I'm not.

Shaw: Yes, you are.

*Five Hours later*

AS: I'm coming to Las Vegas.

Shaw: OK

*One trip to Las Vegas later*

Cop 1: You are in St. Louis and I am in Las Vegas, but I have heard how you sleep with everything with a dick. You are a slut.

AS: No I'm not.

Cop 1: Yes, you are.

*An hour later. Shaw arrives.*

Shaw: You are a slut.

AS: No I'm not.

Shaw: Yes, you are.

Cop 1: Didn't you technically have this same argument earlier in the book?

AS: Shut up. I need to justify my sexual relationships because I don't have enough confidence in myself. And because my author has issues.

*Argument continues for 5 hours*

Cop 1: Here is the SWAT team

SWAT team member Stupid Name #1: You are in St. Louis and I am in Las Vegas, but I have heard how you sleep with everything with a dick. You are a slut.

AS: No I'm not.

SWAT team member Stupid Name #1: Yes, you are.

*Five hours later, after repeating with each and every SWAT team member*

AS: I can lift twice my weight in weights.

SWAT: No you can't.

*AS does*

SWAT: Wow, you are the manliest man that was ever manly. We will totally stand by you and take back all the reservations we had about a human servant of a vampire and her integrity with the police.

AS: That's more like it.

*Edward, Olaf, and Bernardo arrive*

Edward: Anita, you are the manliest woman that was ever manly. I have a manly man crush on you.

AS: But we totally won't end up sexual partners in a future book.

Edward: ...

Olaf: I am a serial rapist and if you had any moral compass remaining, I'd be dead. You are sexy - I'll have sex with you and TRY MY BEST not to kill you.

AS: Awwwwww, how sweet of you to say!

Edward to Bernardo: Isn't that just a bit creepy.

Bernardo: Yeah, Edward watching Bella sleeping creepy.

Bernardo to AS: Why don't you LURVE ME and want to sleep with me?

AS: Do I have to love and have sex with everyone in this series?


AS: Actually, Bernardo, you are a fine piece of ass.

Bernardo: Aw, shucks, Anita, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me.

*AS doesn't know what to say to that, so she ignores it*

Reader: Isn't there supposed to be a plot here?

Plot: HERE I AM!! Come over HERE!

*The US Marshalls follow the plot. Shaw is there.*

Shaw: You are a slut.

AS: No I'm not.

Shaw: Yes, you are.

Edward, Olaf, and Bernardo: Aren't we supposed to be doing an investigation?

*Olaf is creepy*

AS: Olaf is being creepy, but it is MY FAULT because I let him do it.

Reader: This is making me uncomfortable...

LKH: This is a feminist book! SHUT UP!

*AS heads to the weretigers BECAUSE*

Bibiana: I want you to unleash your ardeur, because there hasn't been any sex in this book.

AS: No, I'm not doing it because the readers have complained about too much sex in these books and I'm waiting until the end to cram in the 17 sex scenes.

Bibiana: OK, I'll tell you everything you want to know. BTW, here's the jail bait, that's TOTES OK to screw because 16 is legal in Las Vegas.

Cynric: HI!!

Plot: Hello there, guys? I'm in this corner.

*Team chases plot. Each time they come upon police, same fight ensues*

Ardeur: You need to feed.

AS: Dammit, guess that means I'm having sex with Olaf.

Olaf: *is happy*

Wicked, Truth, Requiem, and a whole slew of unnecessary baggage: We are here for the sexxors.


Plot: OK, guys, we got 10% of the book left! Let's wrap this up really quickly - oh, and put away your guns and shizz, because you won't need them.

Vittorio: I am totally evil - watch me be sadistic and sexual, because that's totally what serial killers do.

*AS saves the day by the power of the cooter*

Everyone in the world: YAY! Anita Sue is the biggest, baddest, manliest woman that was ever manly!

A Bit More Seriously:

Without a doubt, this is better than the sex-obsessed "Incubus Dreams", the plotless "Danse Macabre", and the pointless "Blood Noir". That said, endless fights with the cops, repetitive conversations, and more wangst than an emo teenager's LiveJournal make this book a drag and a bore to get through.

Anita Sue continues to remain the puerile adolescent in adult clothing she's been since book 1. She still feels the need to break into a justification for her relationships at the drop of a hat and, like the child she is, will so anything to prove how awesome she is.

Lots of characters are raked through the coals. Edward is a cheap imitation of what he once was; Olaf no longer is the creepy serial rapist; Bernardo is nothing more than a sappy teenager seeking approval. JC grows a bit of a backbone and chews Anita Sue out, but at the end of the day, he's very much Anita Sue's whipping boy. Wicked and Truth are laughable; supposedly, they are the biggest, baddest warriors, but they so desperately seek Anita Sue's panties, it's embarrassing. And any police officer must give Anita Sue lots of sh!t before welcoming her with open arms - well, every officer except the "woman-hating" Thurgood (kinda rich; same description could apply to Anita Sue).

What about Richard, Micah, Nathaniel, and the million of other characters? Mentioned in passing or not at all. Geez, well, thanks for that. The LAST thing LKH needed to do was add MORE interchangeable characters to this series.

What about women? We have the "woman-hating" Thurgood, the sexual Bibiana (who is sexually manipulative like all women in this book), and Alma, Bibiana's aide, who was sexually assault. Yay for female power!

If LKH could have stuck to the story, it wouldn't have been half bad. Vittorio, Marmee Noir, the djinn - all would have made fiercesome villains. But I sadly think LKH doesn't even know how to write a book without heaps of conversations about who's proverbial dick is bigger, about people's sex life, about vampire or were politics, and about Anita having sex with someone.

And then the writing! Good God, I live for the awful writing! Here's my top five favorites:

"Fire doesn't blink long lashes at you and tries for a neutral face when its eyes give it away."

"If that was a quickie, I can't wait for a longie."

"Don't get yourself killed because of pride, Anita. That's a guy reason to die. You're a girl. Think like a girl for once."

"He fell on top of me, putting his mouth to mine, and kissed me as if he would climb inside and flow down my throat. I kissed him back. Kissed him with mouth and arms around his back, tracing his spine, spilling down to the swell of his body where waist ended and other things began."

And my favorite:

"...so I held him close, feeling how very naked he was in my arms. I held him and he held me back. I held him and remembered holding him while he bled. Holding him while I thought he was dying."

When people say, "Anita is back!", they are both right and wrong. "Skin Trade" is the most like Old Anita as we've gotten. There is a lot more focus on plot, and the plot is very solid. Sex doesn't appear until the last quarter.

But Anita Blake isn't back. There is way too much fluff, way too much piddling around in meaningless conversations, way too little time spent investigating and actually fighting the bad guys. It makes me wonder if LKH even knows how to write a book anymore.
Profile Image for Lorena.
1,012 reviews178 followers
June 14, 2009
I swore I wasn't going to read any more of these, but I gave in and bought the Kindle version, since I definitely can't justify the shelf space for the actual hardcover books in this series anymore. First, the good stuff: relative to the last couple of books, anyway, this book actually had a PLOT, i.e., a mystery for Anita to solve. And as a result, she didn't actually have sex with anyone for at least the first half of the book, which means that some other stuff actually happened outside of the bedroom. The bad news: the writing continues to go downhill. There is no subtext in these books anymore, only text, because no one can have a single thought, no matter how mundane or inane, without expressing it verbally. Then all of the other characters present can utter their own mundane and inane reactions to whatever that thought might be. Mostly, it will not surprise you to learn, these thoughts have to do with Anita's sex life, and whether she is or is not a slut. People discuss this important issue CONSTANTLY, at every crime scene, in the morgue looking over gruesome bodies, and presumably while brushing their teeth and in their sleep.

[Side note to Anita Blake: your angry self-justifications to all and sundry about your sex life would probably carry more weight if YOU would stop treading the same mental waters yourself. It gets tiresome to watch you go through the same rigamarole of protesting faintly that you don't WANT to give in to the ardeur, you WON'T give in, it's so COMPLICATED, why ME, oh, OK now I'll have the best, most mutually satisfying sex possible with yet another person/whatever. You've been dealing with this for a long time, now. Either sack up and do what needs to be done without agonizing over it for everyone else's benefit first, or, I don't know, put an end to your incredible (yet sexiful!) suffering. And for everyone's sake, could you at LEAST remember, all on your own, to eat a damn sandwich every other day or so, without someone reminding you that food is necessary to ordinary mortals, much less whatever super sexy being you have become?]

This book also suffers from a serious lack of Jean Claude, an excess of disturbing discussions about possible sex with serial killers, an abrupt, blink-and-you'll-miss-it resolution to the Marmee Noir story line, and the introduction of even more besotted male characters to attempt to keep track of. I would utter my own faint protestations that I'm not going to read any more of this series now, but I will probably last about as long as Anita faced with another piece of supernatural beefcake when the next book comes out. It's like I'm afflicted with a version of the ardeur that forces me to continue to read this series even when I don't really want to. How will I ever maintain my smug sense of superiority over Twilight fans if this keeps up?
Author 2 books56 followers
January 26, 2012
Skin Trade is a phenomenal book! The story, the plot, the characters and the relationships .. everything about this book just flat-out does it for me.

Blake received a package that contained a human head. Eww, right? I mean .. who does that?

I’d worked my share of serial killer cases, but none of the killers had ever mailed me a human head. That was new, I looked down at the head, ghostly through the plastic bag it was wrapped in.

Rushing home to pack for the trip, Anita does everything possible to avoid informing her loved ones that she will be flying to Las Vegas ALONE. No food. No sweetie. Nothing. You would think about all this time, she’d accept the whole ardeur bit, but alas .. she is still blind.

Edward, the sexy hot stuff Olaf, and Bernardo are just part of the team that is searching for a monster that is beyond twisted. I love the gruesome drippy blood scenes! There were a few descriptive scenes in this book, but I would have liked more. More brains oozing. More slippery entrails. I don’t know .. more hell.

I can’t get enough of Olaf. I want a book with JUST OLAF. What can I say? Yummy! In Skin Trade, the relationship between Blake and Olaf becomes really interesting. He’s still sick and twisted. She is still disgusted and scared. Anita humors him and he tries to figure her out so that he can please her? Totally weird stuff there. What I’m describing doesn’t do the relationship justice. You must read the series yourself!

“Thanks, Olaf, I mean that, but…” I thought about what to say next. “I don’t think we want our first time together to be in the back of a truck.”

He seemed to think about it for a minute or two, then said, “More time and room would be welcome.”

Woo hoo!

Then of course we have the emotional purge from Edward. He speaks. He answers questions. He comforts. He kisses foreheads? That’s just not our Edward!

“Everything that has happened to you happened because you were trying to save someone else. The vampire powers are the same as a gunshot wound, Anita. You got both in the line of duty.”

In this book, Vittorio returns with a vengeance. He still has a hard on for strippers, not literally. I was wondering when he would reappear in this series.

There were burns on half her face, and going down one side of the body. The skin was red and angry and blackened and peeling, and the other half of her body was perfect.

This is an amazing book. The “bad guys” in this story are fantastic and intriguing. The description below is cryptic and luring.

“They are a second kind of people, Anita, created from air, as we were created from earth. They are very powerful spirits, so powerful that King Solomon destroyed them as a people and made them slaves to his bidding, and they were reduced to servants, or only spirits, whose greatest abilities lie in the whispering evil in our ears to manipulate us.”

I recommend this book to all adults that are in need of something totally rocking awesome! Extreme sexual content. Extreme descriptive violence. Suggestive yumminess, but hey .. two thumbs up! I strongly advise this book be kept away from all children AND immature adults.

Line of the book!

When in doubt, shut the fuck up.
Profile Image for Megan.
1,177 reviews46 followers
June 21, 2009
This is book 17 in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. It starts out feeling very much like her first six novels in that Anita will be The Executioner tracking down a serial-killer Vampire, Vittorio. Anita is joined by long-time friend and vampire hunter rival Death (aka Edward, who is masquerading as his good alter-ego Ted), and two other vampire hunters: Bernardo and Olaf. Anita is mailed a human head at her job Animators Inc. from Las Vegas. So, she immediately flies out there to meet her other fellow vampire hunter chumps during the day- so yes- Jean-Claude is still asleep. That means the only time we get to “see” Jean-Claude in this installment is through a couple phone conversations Anita has with him.

Now, this all SEEMS like a very promising book, and it is- for the first 100 pages. After that it’s a free fall. Not from too much sex- I believe there are only two very short sex scenes- but from pointlessness. There is nothing but bitter dialog in this book. Anita, once again, has to prove to cops (the LVPD) and SWAT out there that she is just as strong, oh wait, that’s right, that she is actually STRONGER than men. I’m all for women’s rights about equality, equal pay, and all that stuff… but OH MY GOSH- I do not need to read 300+ pages of this horribly pointless and BORING dialog! Oh yeah, additional dialog has to do with the same men who believe she is a petite weak little women also believe she is a slut- so she tries her best to defend herself on that front as well. Other than the boring dialog Anita and group run around trying to find and capture Vittorio. TRY being the operative word. There is no action, no suspense, no nothing… That means no gun fights either! During this whole book Anita never fires one shot from any (of her many personal arsenal) weapons!

The ONLY part that was interesting was her interaction with Olaf, fellow vampire hunter, and ex-serial killer. That was very amusing seeing Olaf shake Anita up a bit. Other than that (maybe 50-100 pages worth of good)… that doesn’t make up for the rest of this book. A terrible waste of paper. Can Ms. Hamilton ever write like she did her first six books? Does she not remember how to write action? Is the only thing she write well are metaphysical sex scenes? If she can’t then she just better switch to erotica and kill off Anita. I’ve been a loyal and long time fan of Ms. Hamilton… and the only reason I continue to read is for my love of her vampire characters Jean-Claude and Asher. If that means I will only read her series from the library and never buy another book of hers again, unless it is worth it, then so be it.
Profile Image for Meagan.
1,317 reviews46 followers
June 10, 2009
Let me begin my review with the caveat that Laurell K. Hamilton is definitely not for everyone. She has a lot of graphic sex and violence, and I am aware that over the course of the series she has lost a number of fans. I am aware of the literary shortcomings that will keep her from appealing to a lot of people.

Does this matter to me? Not at all. I have remained a steadfast fan of both the Merry Gentry and Anita Blake series since I began reading them years ago. I was always aware of where the weak books were in the series, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Having said that, I can say that Skin Trade has been my favorite book in the series since about book #9, Obsidian Butterfly. Anita Blake is back to her murder investigations and is looking to kick a little vampire ass. Edward is also here, watching Anita's back while wondering which one of them would win in a fight. All of my favorite elements are here, and while the steaminess has been scaled back a bit, it is by no means gone. Developments in this book leave me both shocked and wondering what she could possibly have planned for the future entries. I missed some of my favorite characters, like Jean-Claude, Micah, and Nathaniel, but I still found this to be Laurell's most satisfying book in years.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,432 reviews543 followers
January 5, 2010
Hamilton burst into my awareness with Guilty Pleasures, a book that introduced us to a world where vampires were legal citizens, raising the dead was a viable career, and small women who collected penguin-themed tchotchkes could nevertheless be respected police consultants. Anita Blake was a young woman who just wanted to do the right thing, and although she could not deny her attraction to the sensuous vampire Jean-Claude (ahahahahahahah), she never let her personal life interfere with her job. The books were a little cheesy, but the plots were good and Anita's inner monologue was entertaining. But every book or so, Hamilton would introduce another magic power and another love interest--and by book 10, Anita had become the most Mary-Sueish Mary-Sue that ever Mary-Sued. Reading about her just wasn't fun anymore, and the plots themselves had turned from gorey police procedurals into excuses for increasingly shameless porn.

But. I just couldn't stay away. Hamilton was the first paranormal romance I ever read, and to my mind, the main progenitor of the genre. I wanted to know if she'd managed to pull herself from the brink of complete un-readability. And you know what? She actually did. Sure, Anita is still insanely overpowered. (She is the strongest necromancer ever, has vampiric strength, is psychic, has the strongest shields anyone has ever seen, can control at least five different breeds of were, has the most vampire kills in the world, plus has some sort of godlike "ardeur" power that makes her feed off of people's anger or arousal. And I'm probably forgetting a power or two.) And yes, Anita has so many beautiful supernatural boyfriends that I'm pretty sure she herself can't tell them apart. And ok, most of this book is just everyone talking to her about how she's so strong and badass and bold and sexy. And, it must be said, Hamilton has gotten increasingly awful with consent--Anita has sex with a mind-controlled sixteen year old, and in the climax of the book is basically blackmailed into sex. It's sketchy at best.

But there's a plot! And Edward's back! None of her boyfriends spend more than a few pages on-screen! Anita spends a lot of time talking about weapons and fictional laws about vampire crimes! The series has not returned to its glory days, but it's definitely gotten better since I last read it. And, though I take issue with Hamilton's views on what counts as sex, plot, and relatable characters, this was an enthralling book. Once I started it, I didn't put it down till I was done.
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,342 followers
November 4, 2017
O čem to bylo?
1) Každej chlap chce Anitu
2) Poldové jsou naštvaní na Anitu - na X způsobů
3) Anita bulí, že ji poldové nemaj rádi a vidí ji jako děvku
4) Tělo je TO, jinak budou emoce
5) Anita neví jestli dokáže dělat práci s odznakem - na to se moc neovládá
6) Anita se neovládá
7) Anita se nechce vyspat s nikým novým
8) Anita se vyspí s někým novým
9) S několika
10) Anita má víc problémů než řešení
11) Policajti ji stále nemají ráda
12) Na jejím rozvrhu přibylo pár jmen - měla by si pořídit větší postel

A jinak J-C krásně vysětlil, co mi taky vadí - to že se vyspí s 13 dalšíma chlapa, okay. Ale nemusí ke všem motat city, to snad ani nejde.
Profile Image for Fangs for the Fantasy.
1,449 reviews186 followers
July 20, 2014
Anita receives a package in the mail – the head of a vampire hunter.

Vittorio, the vampire serial killer, has emerged again, this time in Las Vegas. He’s already slaughtered several people there to add to his ever expanding kill list and he wants Anita.

Anita calls in what support she can and heads to Vegas before more are killed – but the beasts and weretiger politics also await her in Vegas, no matter how much she’d like to focus on the case.

The most frustrating thing about this book is that, if you squint hard and really look, there are shreds of the story the Anita Blake series once was. Most of her lovers are back in St Louis while she’s in Vegas which takes her away from ground zero of angst and sex and we could focus on the plot. We could.


And that’s how I read the whole book, every time Anita starts investigating the crime and getting her hands all up in the blood and investigation. Edward shows up, Micah and Nathaniel and Richard and Asher DON’T show up, she’s working with the police and, ok, she is spending an inordinate amount of time reciting a gun catalogue, but I can live with that…

But it was not to be. Because whenever we get close to the plot something interrupts! We have pages and pages and pages of pointless recap. This is book 17 in the series – enough with the Stand Alone Stuffing!

Then Jean-Claude rings, he’s insecure, pages of Jean-Claude angst.

Then there’s Olaf who is creepy and hot for Anita. Anita finds this creepy which makes him hotter so he gets creepier in an infinite loop of creepiness and drooling that goes on and on and on and why, in the name of all that is sensible, has no-one killed this serial killer yet?! To make it worse we have Edward stood on the sidelines gasping “zomg he really likes you Anita!!” like that’s even remotely relevant?! Throw in Anita actually playing along and blaming herself for giving Olaf leeway to be ubercreepy and it’s not just in the way of the plot, but it’s vomitworthy and in the way.

To this throw in some scenes of Bernado moping around declaring how hot he is and whyyyyy won’t Anita shag him (with minor notes provided by Requiem basically declaring how hot he is and whyyyy won’t Anita love him). Both of these take FAR too much time in a very distracted book. Then there’s Wicked and Truth, added to the sex stable, with their own pages of exposition.

Also what is with all these super-hot guys, Jean-Claude included, becoming all insecure because ANITA doesn’t want them? Every other woman in the world can fall to their knees in awe of their hotness, but it doesn’t count unless Anita gives them the seal of smokingness?

Then can we get to the investigating? Hah, no – MISOGNY!

There’s a huge amount of ridiculous misogyny from the Las Vegas SWAT and police, forcing Anita to prove herself again and again and again and again in ridiculously long and unnecessary descriptions which basically are just great big “I’m Anita, I’m so awesome!” fests. Only to be repeated again. And again. And again. Because these are random characters we will never ever meet again, naturally they all have to be described in at ridiculous length.

Then can we get to the investigating? Hah, no – TIGERS!

The the red tigers and the white tigers and the black tigers and the yellow tigers and the blue tigers… BLUE tigers?! Seriously book? Seriously? Anyway there are a gazillion and one tigers with special powers and histories and – frankly it and these characters are all completely irrelevant (and, having read to book 21, they remain completely irrelevant) because what we’re actually seeing is another long, convoluted reason to add yet MORE men to Anita’s harem. The rest of the detail – all the politics with Chang Bibiana, the colours, links to the Mother of All Darkness – it’s all dross which never actually adds up to anything other than MOAR men who are pretty and ANGSTY. Oh why do they always have to be angsty? Is there not one man in the Anitaverse who isn’t in need of extensive therapy?

This is a problem I’ve had with the last half a dozen or so books – plot lines that are raised, that we spend an awful lot of time on but they don’t actually go anywhere.

Ok investigation now? NO! MOTHER OF ALL DARKNESS!

Who drops in and just kind of woo-woos about being SCARY and everyone is SCARED and she’s so SCARY and let us describe how super scary she is at incredible length but she doesn’t actually DO anything, Holy symbols glow. Random woo-woo is dragged in (a witch Archangel this time) before disappearing never to be seen again, random sex happens from related woo-woo.

She has spent the last 3 books, dropping in being scary then disappearing. The Mother of All Darkness is just a very vivid nightmare, I’m sure – because that’s all she ever does!

Ok investigation now? – KINDA! Vittorio!

In a very classic Anita-ness no-one actually has TIME to investigate so we then have the standard bad guy-kidnaps-people instead game. I don’t know why they bother, if they’d just leave her alone, Anita would become so distracted she’d actually forget what she was doing and focus on her side issues, angst and sex. Anyway, this kidnapping comes with two special bits of awful

Awful #1: Vittorio is special in 8 gazillion special ways none of which are important. We get a HUGE WHACKING INFODUMP of exposition about this special vampire of specialness, none of which remains relevant. Not one damn iota. Seriously, you could chop that bit from the book and it wouldn’t have made one teeny tiny bit of difference. And, really, if he were this special couldn’t it have come up once, just ONCE, in the whole series? Mother of All Darkness has been waving around being spooky for books now, couldn’t he have come up once?!

Awful #2: Anita and random SWAT guy are forced to enact the most ridiculous porn fantasy ever. I just can’t even begin to imagine why this scene is here. There are actually porn films with more coherent plots than this. It may actually be the most ridiculous scene in this entire series.

No, really.

Which leaves me screaming in frustration because for a moment, for a brief, shining moment, this book convinced me that we were going back, back to the Anita of yore, before the sex and the info dumps and the angst and the Mary Sue to end all Mary Sue.

Alas, no.

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Profile Image for Robin.
374 reviews134 followers
June 8, 2009
Well, I'm not sure this was enough to get me back into the Anita Blake fold, but I did like the book. Very much. It made me realize some things about the series, though.

I hate Anita Blake. I think I've always known this, and I believe this is where my problem with heroin(e) started. All the guys want to screw her, and all the girls want to be her. And poor Anita Blake, she just can't figure out what to do with this wacky, crazy life of hers. But, as much as she doesn't want to be a "victim" she's just a crazy slave to her unfortunate, but of her own making, circumstances. Whine. Whine. Whine. It has been this way since Circus of the Damned, and it hasn't really changed except for the circumstances have gotten more complicated.

Yet, what I have really liked about the books were the other characters. Okay, Jean-Claude and Edward, mostly. Asher some. The rest of them I could give a toss about, really. And, what has really irritated me about the path the books were on was that she diminished Jean-Claude's power to raise Anita's. Either he is or he is not the shit. Right? I know characters change throughout the series, but she has watered JC down so much that I'm almost wondering what purpose he serves. I know Richard fans have similar complaints.

Back to this book: It had plot. I know! A plot that centered around something other than who Anita was going to screw. Don't get me wrong, there was screwing. And, you know, I thought I was pretty well innoculated from the name issue thanks to JR Ward, but something about her screaming "Wicked" during sex still made me laugh out loud. But we got tbrough 300 pages before there was screwing, so take that for what it's worth. Sadly, though, I didn't find the sex hot. There were parts that were luke warm, but never reached hot. That's what happens when you make sex something other than what it is supposed to be (ie. food). It becomes common. Mundane. "Oh, huh. She's getting off with someone she either doesn't like, doesn't trust, or doesn't want to add to her stable." To me, that's kind of the equivalent of eating vegetables. You do it because you have to, not because you're really digging parsnips.

The only character here who had actual growth was Edward. There were some plot issues here as well, and it seemed like Hamilton lost the thread towards the end. The end of the book was the weakest part by far. Bernardo, Olaf, and Edward just drop off the face of the Earth. What happened to them? No goodbyes? Suddenly, she's back in St. Louis, new playthings in tow, and life is back to some shade of normal. Okay. Um....right. But, there were some good parts, which is more than I can say for the previous 6 books. It did read very much like Obsidian Butterfly so if you didn't like that one, you're probably not going to be much for this one either.
Profile Image for ♥Tricia♥.
54 reviews30 followers
June 16, 2009
This book was absolutely horrid. First off, Edward didn't even act like Edward. Then you have LKH's aweful attempt to satisfy the whiney babies who claimed Anita wasnt the same as before. (and when I say this I mean the people who dont like the sex)

So here you have a story with less sex, and more plot. Yet the whole time Anita is so whiney that she isnt this kick ass heroine anymore. Even the other characters were whiney.

I would let this slide if it were say RICHARD, but no.. none of her sweethearts were in this (well Requiem she cares about but isnt one of her sweeties.) and the whole feel of this book was horrid.

Weak characters, weak plot (Father of Day? LOLOLOL COME ON! /rolls eyes) and The Mother of all Darkness dying (supposedly) as easy as she does? Seriously?!

So not only was there a lack of sex to keep it interesting, but Anita doesn't even get to fight and kick ass to make it worth while. Oh and on the topic of sex, the scenes weren't even that good! And the 16 yr old? Orgy without her knowing? Or the readers even knowing much about for that matter! It was just *oh I woke up now and hey we had an orgy, what?*.

Sure she has her powers, but we have come to know and love this character for both her physical ass kicking as well as her metaphysical ass kicking. And this one didn't even have either! Sure toward the end she *distracted* Vittorio with the ardeur, but that's it, just a distraction. Nothing more, the tigers were the ones to actually kill him! W T F!.

Not to mention that I have to keep reading about things I have already learned in several of her past books. COME ONE LKH! I don't want to reread! If I did I would pick up one of the other books! It's like she is trying to jam pack all this history for new readers in this book and it just fills the book with crap that her current and loyal readers are tired of reading over and over and over.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shelley.
3 reviews
October 16, 2009
All I can say is wow, what has this writer become? This is probably my last attempt to read any of Hamilton's work. Her first books in this series were entertaining, and I have stuck with her and Anita even after Anita started losing herself, and my interest. This book is nothing but the same few sentances of dialog repeated over and over in a different way. Nothing new is ever said. The cops all think Anita is a traitor/monster/slut, Anita is constantly trying to prove that just because she's a female, doesn't mean that she isn't BETTER than the men (and one unlikable female cop), and the "monster" men in her life, no wait, ALL the other men in her life all seem to crowd around her trying to protect herself and get into her pants, although she doesn't feel she's worthy of such adoration. Yuck. What a pointless read. The characters drag, Anita's personality has become extremelly obnoxious, and I can no longer deal. Adios Anita. Have fun screwing everything that moves and tearing yourself up about it later. We all know you will, but I won't be around to suffer through it with you any longer.
Profile Image for Jessica McReaderpants.
240 reviews1 follower
March 26, 2015
Ok Mrs. hamilton. Obviously I am a fan because I have stuck it out until book 17. Here are a few pointers from someone who has just re-read the whole series up to #17 in about two weeks.
1. Thank you for stopping telling us (the readers) what color Nike swoosh Anita is wearing.
2. We get that she needs to have sex- and that she is conflicted- you are beating a dead horse here. She needs to move on already- either stop having sex and die or accept the idea.
3. Can she please have sex with someone who isn't hung like a horse and beautiful as Adonis? this also gets old. Every freaking person in the world can't be a foot long and six inches around.
4. Pop her anal cherry already- jeez
5. Make Richard stop being an ass and have him accept his beast- this plot twist is as old as the conflicted-about-sex Anita one.
6. Can Anita please be attracted to non-midget non-effeminate men for once? What is the deal here? Latent lesbian tendencies? She only likes short, feminine "men" with long hair, who mysteriously are hung like a stable of stallions and they let her dominate them. She is bull dyke in everything but vagina.
I am sure there are more but those were the top 6. I am off to read #18 because apparently Mrs. Hamilton laces the pages of her novels with crack.
Profile Image for Gothmom.
37 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2009
I have mixed feelings about LKH's work these past few years. She's gotten to write hardcover fiction and I'm sure gotten some of the money and prestige that goes along with it. But Anita Blake spun way out of control a few books back - it turned into porn first, plot second. But I loved the characters and am familiar with the world so much that I just kept on reading.

In this book, the porn takes a second place to plot FINALLY - however, because two giant orgy scenes conveniently are not in the book with Anita having "blacked out" during them makes me wonder if her editor is finally pulling on the reins? Anyway, I was glad I didn't have to slog through some more scenes where I couldn't even figure out the physics of the sex positions. Okay back to what was in the book - plot! Thanks a lot! I'm really glad of that.

Too much discussion of what is guy behavior and what is girl behavior, what is police behavior, etc. Don't analyze it, describe what they DO and move on!

I think LKH needs to start a new series or branch out with a different main char - she's developed a whole cast here, just take one out and see what happens with them. Like Edward for example!!
Profile Image for Angie.
3,624 reviews44 followers
January 30, 2011
This contains spoilers!****

I originally thought this book wasn't too bad. Then I reread the entire series start to finish and realized how downhill the whole thing had really gone. This book is just the culmination of that downhill slide. I am not sure how Hamilton can pull it back up. A fact checker would be a really good place to start. Some decent writing and a return to the good storytelling of the original books would be great. I wish Anita would give up the Marshall service. This would allow her to take the 4th mark and truly become JC's human servant. Than the books could focus on that and her being a necromancer. It could give Hamilton some new material and perhaps refresh the series a bit.

One of the glaring things about this book is the mistakes. Hamilton seriously needs to hire a fact checker, someone intimately familiar with the serious who can tell her when she gets details wrong. Reading Blood Noir and Skin Trade back to back I noticed that she had some facts wrong immediately. In the beginning she states she met the tigers when Max and Bibiana came to St. Louis - wrong. It was when she and Jason went to SC/NC (I can't remember which Carolina it was). She later corrects this about half way through the book. There are several other instances where she gets things wrong not just in this book but throughout the series - who can forget the disappearing/reappearing car in Circus of the Damned.

The other thing Hamilton relies to heavily on are her stock descriptions of people and places. Again, I didn't notice this as much until reading all the books together. She uses the exact same language over and over and over again. We get it! If you are reading Skin Trade, you know who Jean Claude is. We don't need detailed descriptions of who he is, what he has done, how they met, etc. But Hamilton does this for almost every character and it is ridiculous. What is worse is that it is the same in many of the books. It is like she has a database that she just cuts and pastes this information from. Bad writing!

We also get massive descriptions of every gun Anita ever carries, yet she never seems to use any of them. She is always absorbing some bad guys powers and using that to save the day instead. Why does she never fire a gun any more?

Also, why has she emasculated every man in her life? And why does every sex scene sound extremely painful and unsexy as hell? Even the scenes with the people Anita supposedly loves really have no emotion. It is like a switch is thrown and suddenly Anita falls on a penis or two.

The best part was that Anita didn't have sex until page 370! I am not sure how Hamilton restrained herself with writing no sex scenes for 370 pages, but good for her. And the sex wasn't over the top or strange, it was pretty normal for Anita. Not focusing on sex allowed her to focus on the case and Edward, Olaf and Bernardo. Yeah, they are back. I love Edward and any book he is in is just better, though he didn't have all that much to do in this one. Olaf is creepy and his interactions with Anita are always interesting. I'm not sure I really like where this is going with him wanting to date Anita. Why does every man want to date Anita? Seriously? Is she that irresistible? She seems pretty bitchy and like a pain in the ass to me. Bernardo is just a flirt and you are pretty sure Anita is never going to sleep with him.

The cops scenes in this book were very repetitive. We have seen them in almost every book where Anita has to interact with cops. It started with Dolph and has now infected every other cop. There is always some cop calling her a slut and thinking she is a monster because she sleeps with monsters. It is getting old. I can't believe that a serial killer vampire case is not as interesting as Anita's sex life to these cops - seriously! Can they really not focus on their jobs? I was intrigued by the idea that Anita was getting tired of being a Marshal. I kind of like the idea of her giving it up and focusing on being a necromancer and JC's girl. Would save us from all these cop scenes.

I didn't like the fact that we had another group orgy. First, we just had one in the last book and that one at least had some lead up to it and some meaning behind it even though it really wasn't necessary. Anita gained some tigers from it. This one just seemed to be there for no reason other than the fact that Anita slept with a 16 year old. We know this is going to ick her out for years and she is going to whine about it forever. That is going to get old. So if that is the only reason for it I think we could have done without it.

The last few chapters, basically everything after she got back to the hotel, seemed very rushed as if Hamilton realized she had a page limit and had to finish quickly. There wasn't a lot of thought put into how all the story lines were tied up (see the orgy). The Marmie Noir thing was just so odd. Is she really dead? If so, that was the biggest let down ever. I have to admit I am tired of that storyline. It was getting really repetitive and tiresome, but I didn't expect it to end the way it did. I really thought that with all the things happening with the psychics and witches in this book Anita was gathering an army to fight her in the next book. So if she is dead I am glad in a way, but very disappointed in the execution of it. I also thought the end of Vittorio was a huge letdown. He has been the big bad in 2 books and his end basically takes a couple of paragraphs. Again, sloppy execution on Hamilton's part. And the whole sexual playground thing he set up for Anita at the end was just weird. Anita has pages of angst about casual sex because of the arduer but will give a guy a blow job with no problem. Again just sloppy writing and not well done on Hamilton's part.

My last compliant is about the 4th marks. Anita is becoming much more practical about all things vampire and supernatural in her life. I can't understand why there hasn't been more discussion on the 4th mark. Especially since it has been used against them so often. I can't remember how many times, but Vittorio threatens to break the marks and make her his human servant in this one too. It is ridiculous and becoming an overused plot point for Hamilton. She needs to resolve it. Hamilton needs to stop relying on Anita absorbing other powers and the ardeur as plot devices. She needs to come up with valid stories and tell them.

Don't get me wrong, I am still going to read the Anita books. I just wish they were as good as the first ones in the series. I think they have a lot of potential. Hamilton comes up with some good ideas; she just doesn't always execute them very well. I wonder if she just rushes through them so she can get an Anita and a Merry book out each year.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 61 books52 followers
February 26, 2022
Hamilton is back in her old form in this novel. The opening chapter sees Anita receive a package containing a severed head with a return address in the city of Las Vegas. (Talk about opening with a bang!) Shortly thereafter she learns that the head belongs to a vampire executioner and then several members of the SWAT team backing him up were also killed. Oh, and there’s a note painted in blood inviting Anita to Vegas.

So this is a good beginning and it’s followed by the sort of action that Hamilton used to give us. She has to make contact with the police many of whom do not like her because she’s a woman and has gotten a reputation for sleeping with any and everyone who moves. (Hamilton tries to make this look like an undeserved reputation and it’s certainly exaggerated a bit, but thanks to the ardeur, Anita does sleep with a lot of people. The better question which Hamilton asks is why should her sleeping habits impact her ability to do her job? After all, she has the highest number of vampire kills in the country.) There’s also lycanthrope politics and some interesting metaphysics coming both from the vampire serial killer she’s tracking, plus the Mother of All Darkness, plus a lot of the cops. And the focus of the book does mostly stay on trying to catch the killer.

All of this is to the good. In addition, Hamilton mostly avoided doing the things that have been annoying me for most of the last six books. Sex is not dominating the vast majority of the pages and sometimes the sex that is there serves a clear plot purpose. (Hamilton even does one of the major sex scenes off screen, which is where most of them belong.) This book also downplays the endless relationship talk that has overtaken so many of the novels, letting the reader focus on figuring out what is going on and how Anita is going to end the threat.

So lots of good, not so much bad, and a major storyline that has been building for many books is seriously advanced.
Profile Image for David.
9 reviews6 followers
August 20, 2012
Well... there's 5.5 hours I will never get back.

The first few chapters of Skin Trade actually felt like old Anita Blake. And, to my even-in-retrospect disbelief, in almost 500 pages I bet there is less that 20 pages devoted to gratuitous sex (btw - I love sex, just not poorly written sex that is used as a substitute for a plot). Instead, LKH thumps us on the head over and over again about boys not believing girls can be taken seriously and concludes with a trite ending to super-powerful villains.

I stopped feeding money into the Anita Blake machine a few novels back, but kept up via my public library. No more. I feel sad because LKH's stuff now sucks so bad that I would rather sit through a (insert-your-least-favorite-actor's-name-here) film festival that read one of her books again.

I'm also chapped because I'll probably be doing myself Karmic harm by returning Skin Trade to the library, but I must if I want to check our more books.

Miss Hamilton, if you are reading this, PLEASE make up with whoever was ghost-writing your early Anita Blake books. If not for me, do it for the children.
Profile Image for Shanna.
5 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2009
I've stuck by Anita and Laurell for all 17 books. Even the last couple that were lacking. But I'm finally losing interest. The first several chapters were so full of exposition and wasted pages that I found myself complaining out loud. How many people are picking this book up and reading it as if it's the first in the series? If Laurell is concerned about new readers being confused about past happenings, write a brief summary of the previous books and put it at the start of the book. Referring to things that are already well established to loyal series readers in cheesy conversations makes me insane. Yes, Anita is the most powerful necromancer in a thousand years and I'm not sure I would've remembered if Jason hadn't reminded me in a completely silly conversation with Anita. I'm all for including new readers, but I'm not sure contrived dialogue is the way to attract and keep them. It's also not going to keep me. I'm not going to pay upwards of $25 to read things that have already been covered.
Profile Image for Esma.
278 reviews7 followers
February 26, 2013
Anita okurken iki kitabın arasında 1 yıl kadar zaman farkı bırakırsanız kitabın şahane olacağını fark ettim. Gerçekten ben de beğenmiyordum son kitapları ama son 1 yıl içerisinde çok farklı karakterler okudum ve hiçbiri Anita kadar iyi değildi.

Konunun içinde çok fazla metafizik olmaması da yardımcı oldu. Olaf, Bernardo ve Edward'la gerçekten av mükemmel oluyor. Anita'nın üstüne fazla gidiyor polisler. Sanırım bırakacak işi.. Bırakmayabilir aslında ama ben olsam bırakırdım kendi başlarına ölsün salaklar.
Profile Image for Chani.
609 reviews30 followers
March 14, 2015
Je crois qu'Anita m'a tellement déçue que même lorsque l'ardeur se calme je n'arrive plus à trouver le même intérêt dans ses aventures qu'avant...
Profile Image for Saimi Vasquez.
1,348 reviews61 followers
November 15, 2021
Anita recibe un regalo inusual desde Las Vegas y se ve obligada a irse a atrapar al vampiro asesino que se escapo, y sabe que eso va a molestar a su "Mastro" y amor Jean-Claude, porque tiene que irse sin guardaespaldas, amantes y correr el riesgo de que el "ardeur" se levante y Crispian no este cerca para saciarlo.
Ademas, cuando llega a las Vegas, se da cuenta que Edward esta alla con los 2 "respaldos" que conocio en Texas, uno de ellos es Olaf, y si incluimos que la policia de las Vegas no confia en ella ni en los cazadores en su ciudad, el equipo SWAT la pone a prueba para ver que tan poderosa es y ademas la reina de los trigres quiere jugar a vencidas con sus poderes, las cosas no pueden ser mas complicadas.
Debe luchar con todos en las Vegas y en su mente, para poder atrapar al vampiro y evitar perderse en el poder de Mamma Noir.

Este es un guiño a los primeros libros, donde lo mas importante era la captura del asesino, la relacion con los otros seres humanos, incluyendo a Edward, por lo que este libro me gusto bastante.
El drama continua, pero en este libro es de muchisima menor escala, igual que las escenas eroticas, y todo esta relacionado con la trama, lo que hace un libro mucho mas facil, logico y entretenido de leer.
Yo estaba decidida a abandonar la saga despues de este libro, si resultaba igual de frustrante que los anteriores 5, pero resulto muchisimo mejor de lo esperado, asi que voy a continuarla, espero no decepcionarme de nuevo mas adelante.
Profile Image for Kelly.
616 reviews148 followers
June 12, 2009
Skin Trade is enough of a step in the right direction that I'm sorely tempted to give it a higher rating than it actually deserves. There's a plot! With murders! And investigating! And I turned out to be right about Marmee Noir's plans for Anita. And the two explicit sex scenes are better-written and less icky than what I've come to expect from Hamilton. And she's being copy-edited again, so there are only a few typos. I get the sense, reading Skin Trade, that Hamilton is trying to blend the mystery/horror style of the early Anita Blake books with the erotic style of the later installments. The results are mixed, but I have to admit that Skin Trade is her best in years.

That said, I can't say I truly enjoyed it, hence the 2-star rating. Skin Trade has its moments, and I'm quite happy that the plot never gets lost and is never far from Anita's mind, no matter what else is going on. However, there are a lot of problems.

First, there's the macho posturing. Especially in the first half of Skin Trade, Anita seems hell-bent on bickering with every male character she meets and trying to prove she's tougher than they are. The female characters don't even seem to rate that kind of treatment. Anita pretty much never gets along with any woman, ever. In one scene, she decides that a female cop is "one of those women who seem to hate other women." The woman hasn't even opened her mouth yet; how would Anita know this? Projection much? Anyway, all this bickering and posturing wouldn't be so bad if it didn't take up such a vast amount of page space. I wanted to shout at the characters to just go solve the crime already.

Second, I think Hamilton is trying to push the envelope further in terms of sex, and the results are sometimes pretty disgusting. Anita is far too friendly to creepy serial-killer Olaf (thank goodness she doesn't sleep with him) and does end up sleeping with a 16-year-old (thank goodness it's not "onscreen," and thank goodness she's disturbed when she realizes what she's done).

Third, we know that Anita is the most super-special person to ever walk the face of the planet. We get it. She doesn't need more powers, or more men, or to turn out to be one of the very last carriers of blue tiger lycanthropy (Blue tigers? What the…), but all of these occur.

Finally, several promising plotlines end anticlimactically. I hope that, in the most egregious case of anticlimax syndrome, the "end" is not as final as it seems.

There was one bit that really struck me as clever, though:

"Why?" I asked. "Everyone knows what a pain in Jean-Claude's a** I am. Why do you want to deal with that?" I couldn't call for help in any way, or someone else died. I couldn't go all lycanthrope, because it wouldn't help me. What could I do? What the f**k could I do without a gun?

He laughed again, but this time it was lower, more attractive, more seductive. "The power, Anita. You are the first necromancer in centuries, and with so many other powers."

Vittorio is answering Anita's spoken question, but in a way he's also answering her unspoken question. Indeed, Anita does end up being forced to enter Skin Trade's final confrontation without firearms, so that her powers are the only weapon she has. (That said, she has so many powers at this point, and it's been ages since she actually shot anyone, so she's probably more formidable metaphysically than physically.)

All of my grumbles aside, I really do think Skin Trade is a good start, if Hamilton intends to move the series back toward a focus on plot.

Read this and other LKH reviews at FantasyLiterature.net
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sherri.
172 reviews6 followers
October 31, 2012
Today we'll be making "Skin Trade," also known as "Bad Writing Soufflé." This desert will involve a lot of heavy violence, but not nearly as much as some of the others we've made over the years. Additionally, like many of the past recipes on this show, there will be lots of build up. And like the last 6-7, the goal will be to make SURE your soufflé falls as badly as possible, just to disappoint your consumers. The most important difference between this LKH desert and the last ten will be that, for all of you trying to watch your BDSM intake after too much Shades of Grey, instead of actual sex, we're going to substitute TALKING about sex. Preferably in a derogatory way. Now, to begin, take the beginnings of a reasonably good plot in a large mixing bowl. Dismembered heads are a great starting point. Marinate your plot in a quick change of scenery. When you drain the marinade off the plot, make sure to leave behind lots of hurt feelings and bad communication if you can. Now add some spice to the dish with a dash of confusion. What happened to the reasonable-sounding guy who we talked to on the phone? When did he become a rabid sexist maniac? Also, why does this killer's abilities and MO completely not match what we expected considering we've hunted him before? The more spice you can add, the better. A cup of macho-muscle flexing is good. Oops, we seem to have added the whole bag, but we'll work around it. An extra hundred pages should allow us to stir that in nicely. Add a few tablespoons of "whiny boyfriend" just so everyone remembers that they exist, but don't actually add enough to let it flavor the plot, we just want the texture. If you find your mix is too heavy, splash in some derogatory, sexist comments and stereotypical characterizations to keep it moving. This is also a good place to add that badly done, repetitive sex-talk. This may make the plot a bit lumpy, but who cares? Once your mix is ready, preheat the oven to "WTF" and bake for 20 minutes. Allow it to cool for awhile while you have nonsensical conversations that might be touching if we cared. Frost your soufflé with a thick layer of complete fan heartbreak. My favorite recipe for the frosting is to take 5 books of "super bad-guy build up" and then burn it to a crisp, offstage, with a "non-character" and a homemade bomb. It never fails to crush reader spirit and is the perfect topper to this nightmare. Color the frosting with some bad math like repeatedly referring to 6-7 animals as being 5. Also, you can add your own touches to the recipe. For instance, try adding some biologically impossible sex to the mix. While I did say we were substituting sex TALK, there is no reason you can't add a smidgen on the real thing here and there for decoration. Another thing you can try is making every character ingredient whiny, insecure, self-obsessed and unappealing. That is SURE to make your soufflé fall! If you really want to make sure your guests hate it, add in enough off-screen pedophilia to be really revolting. Remember, when you present this dripping slimy mess to your consumers, after choking it down they'll be delighted to have you return to those easy, empty-calorie sex books...I mean recipes...you've been writing!
Profile Image for Natasha.
289 reviews108 followers
February 2, 2010

This is the seventeenth installment in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. It follows Anita, Edward and Olaf as they track their latest vampire threat. When a very unwanted package is mailed to her office, the hunt for its sender becomes personal. Naturally with Anita, she takes the flight out to Las Vegas to track him down.
What awaits her there isn’t just a body count. She realizes the sender is making it very personal...Starting by murdering a fellow Federal Marshall.
Cat and mouse games don't sit well with Anita. And needing all the help she can get with Edward and Olaf by her side she's ready to take him down.

Personally Olaf creeps me out, but I really like his character. I couldn't see me wanting to be around him, but sometimes I think I see something ok in him. Even if it's just for .2 of a second..
Edward is one of my favorite characters. I always know it's going to be an awesome one if Edward is involved. Not to mention, it's going to be gruesome. Edwards character would be one hard to write.. sure he's unemotional and dark, but to imagine his thoughts is always something I try to do. It's pretty hard. If I had to compare him to anyone, it would probably be Dexter. They both have that on purpose split personality. And one of their personality's is the love of the kill.

As for Anita, she's going through a hardship with herself. She's terrified for becoming what she feared and doesn't know who to trust with her thoughts. This time around was afresh start in the series. Like everyone has been saying, the past lot of books were mostly smut then plot, but I really saw a change with this book. There's the usual stuff, but it's not so over the top. I really feel she deserves a second chance because she really is a great story teller.

I also love Wicked and Truth. ("The Wicked Truth"). The ideas for their characters are genius. I've been a fan of them from the start. I'm glad they made some what of a bigger part in this book. They will probably be more of a part in the future books now.

The downfall is, there are many different characters in this book(and series) and sometimes it gets hard to keep up with everyone. I do get bugged about that sometimes. But I really do like the series, so I try to go back and remember a certain character if I really can't put my thumb on them. And for the cover..It's not one of my favorites. Is it just me, or does it remind you of the Saw movies? Lol. It's still better than the Flirt/Bullet covers though..

As for the book itself, I loved it. The plot was great, the anticipation of the 'sender' was intense and fun. And the characters were awesome. I enjoyed this more than Blood Noir and liked the new setting in Law Vegas. I like when Anita travels and we get to see new and exciting creatures and things. If your an Anita fan, this may have been better than the last few(IMO)and I recommend it for those who haven't decided on reading it yet. I also loved Flirt so I'm now very excited for Bullet.
Profile Image for mlady_rebecca.
2,158 reviews97 followers
December 25, 2019
Given that this was an "out of town" book, with none of the primary male characters accompanying Anita to Las Vegas, I was expecting a stark police procedural, most similar to "Obsidian Butterfly". That wasn't what this book was, in the least. It had plenty of vamp politics, furry politics, and interpersonal character growth.

Yes, the police case took up more of the page count, but this was one of the books where the police case and the preternatural events were all linked, so things flowed from one to the other flawlessly.

Given my personal preferences, I would have dropped a scene describing Anita packing her guns in favor of her chatting with the new tigers, but that's just me. *g*

There were still plenty of moments where the preternatural world was more important than the mystery or the cops or playing with guns. I especially enjoyed Anita's conversations (via phone) with Jean-Claude and her interactions with Wicked and Truth. Their new understanding brought me to tears.

(Warning: speculation for the future of the series.)

Anita has been talking about being burnt out with the executioner work and the police cases for books now, but it's reached a head with this book. I think she's really going to pull back in the future, or find a way to change the focus. The Las Vegas SWAT looks at their job as saving lives, even the monsters. I think that's what Anita wants. Anita is becoming less Executioner and more Advocate of the undead, the furry, the monsters.

Things have also reached a head in Anita's personal life. She and Jean-Claude are both unhappy with the way Anita keeps adding not sex partners, but lovers. She cannot keep adding people she's emotionally attached to. Her heart cannot handle that many men.

In the beginning of the story, we see how stifled Anita is feeling. I see a mirror path in the way that she pulled away from Jean-Claude post-"Blue Moon", then she returned to him in "Narcissus in Chains" ready to deepen their connection - marry the marks. I think this book is the echo of that. She pulled away again, but instead of being relived with the distance, she misses Jean-Claude and all his people. I think we're going to see a Jean-Claude centric book next time around. Hopefully with the 4th mark finally being undertaken.



This is where I could really use a simultaneous currently-reading/read status. I finished the first round, but I'm going to dive right back in. You don't read these books once. Real review pending. But very very good. Better than I'd expected given the early reviews and the "out of town" thing.

Profile Image for Kathy.
2,167 reviews31 followers
January 10, 2021
3.5 rounded down. ERly in the series, I would happily binge read the books. Once most of the books became about the ardeur and sex with anyone and everyone, any time, any place (taking up 60% of the book), I need to space them out as I keep hoping we get back to the earlier formula. 3 stars because the original Anita formula parts were really good.
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,730 reviews295 followers
September 27, 2019
I'm pretty sure I read this book, but I have no memory of it lol. This book was like one giant tease. I thought for one shining moment that we were getting the Anita of old. The police working, zombie raising, non-sexing Anita. But alas, that only lasted for about half of the book. I am trash for this series. I can't help it. And part of me wonders if it's because I keep waiting for things to get back to what made the series good.

So what did I like?

- the police work. We got to see Anita solving crimes again and working along side the law (there were issues with this as well, but the negatives will be discussed later).

-Edward. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I love when he pops in. While I feel his character is getting a little tame, I still love the core of who Edward is and how he treats Anita.

- there was hardly any sex! Yes, we need to celebrate this. When the past handful of books have just been page after page after page of sex, it was nice to get a break. NGL, I skim a lot of the sex scenes now because they are almost all the same.

- the continuing story with the Mother of All Darkness. I think she's fascinating so I love when she rears her evil head.

- there was actual mystery! Who's killing these people? Is it the same vamp serial killer or a new bread of evil?

What I didn't like:

- how there were pages and pages of explaining everything that happened in the last 16 books. Enough, the only people reading these now are the people who have stuck with the series this long and we know all this info. And it really disrupts the pace of the book.

-Anita constantly has to prove herself to the manly men. I get it, she's strong but let's move on.

-HOW MANY NEW CHARACTERS MUST YOU INTRODUCE IN EVERY BOOK? I can't even keep everyone straight anymore and everyone I knew from the early books just disappeared.

-Why does Olaf still exist?

Just...please get better again.
Profile Image for Ellis ♥.
831 reviews10 followers
March 20, 2017
Non ci sono più dubbi, è necessaria la presenza dell'imperturbabile Edward e dell'inquietante Olaf per far tornare Anita Blake agli antichi splendori. La Sterminatrice, almeno in questo libro, sembra essere riapparsa. Si rivede uno scorcio della donna cazzuta, battagliera e intraprendente, la protagonista indiscussa dei primi volumi della serie che me l'hanno fatta amare. Purtroppo, però, anche qui la Hamilton non vuole rinunciare ad una considerevole dose di scene hot; l'harem di Anita si rimpingua sempre di più e sinceramente la situazione sta diventando sempre più ridicola, al limite della comicità. Ma oramai sono arrivata al diciassettesimo libro e, volente o nolente, mi sono affezionata ai vari personaggi e la curiosità di scoprire quale piega intraprenderà la scrittrice per narrarci le avventure della nostra adorata Sterminatrice\ Negromante\ Nimir Ra etc. ha il sopravvento.
34 reviews3 followers
June 7, 2009
This is even maybe a 3 1/2.

Skin Trade is very well written and LKH is an excellent writer. Her plots are some of the best out there. If that was why I read, I would LOVE this book.

But that isn't why I read. I read for the characters. I want to care about them and I want them to grow. If they regress, it needs to set up growth. It's great to grow over the series, but it is important for them grow in each book. Anita doesn't. I at least want to feel bad for them.

Anita bitches, a lot. I can only take so much bitching about their lot in life before a character turns me off to the entire series. Anita is quickly reaching that threshold.

The struggle to find their place in a world where they are a freak is a common theme in the books I read. Elena is the only female werewolf. Mercy is the only Walker she knows. Anna is the only Omega wolf. Sookie is the only telepath (except for the guy she met in Texas and he's even more clueless). Kate Daniels is the only whatever she is (no spoiling allowed. Go read Ilona Andrews' excellent series). Fathye is one of the few female werecats. Anita is the only true necromancer. These are my favorite series.

Elena accepts things by the end of Bitten. Mercy actively tries to find a place in werewolf society. Anna doesn't fight her Omega status and by the end of Cry Wolf she knows how to wield her power. Sookie has had a crap life, but she actively tries to find a way to get along in the world. Kate accepts what she has to do. Faythe is quite content to tell people to fuck off if they get in her way and keep her from doing what she wants. (her arc is probably my favorite)

But what does Anita do? Acceptance isn't even in her vocabulary. At least earlier she was working with Marianne to get a handle on the marks. Anita's metaphysical world is spinning out of control and all she does is bitch. I'm sure next or several books down the road, Anita will get better, but even Buffy found her way out of the Grave by the end of season 6.

Anita is hitting rock bottom and I am sick to death of her being separated from Jean-Claude and Asher so she has no one to help her with the metaphysical stuff. Rock bottom means there is no where to go but up, but throw us a tiny bone, maybe one in the pinky.

It doesn't have to be about the metaphysical stuff. Anita has personal problems as well, such as collecting men. Just the realization of why she does this would be great. Anita sleeps with fucked up men and she has to help them. That's the core of her character. That's why her two tightest relationships are Jean-Claude and Micha, the two less fucked up men in her life so she doesn't have to save them.

Just something.

Olaf/Otto being the only character to grow left me feeling unsatisfied at the end. If Anita said one more time that she was going to have to kill him one day, I was going to throw the book across the room, which would be a very bad thing because it is heavy and would damage something. Olaf being less serial killery isn't something I really care about.

It is great seeing Edward and for Anita to have at least one relationship that isn't sexual or with a non-supernatural. The plot was amazing and I love the ending. I just wish Anita had changed even a tiny bit.

This book set up things and should be viewed as a middle book. I'm sure when I look back when this book is put in the proper context, it will be much better.

But for now, it is one of the few books, I'm giving four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Patrícia.
975 reviews98 followers
February 21, 2016
Rating: 1.5 stars

Anita Blake and her group of merry men are back again for more adventures in their alternative-world US of America.

This time, Anita receives a human head in the mail. It seems an old foe, Vittorio the vampire is back to wreck havoc, this time in Las Vegas. So, Anita has to go to Nevada to give chase. US Marshals Bernardo, Edward and Olaf go with her.

The 17th Anita Blake book was eerily reminiscent of "Obsidian Butterfly" (book 9 in the series) in a few aspects: Anita Blake travels to a new city and the characters that go with her are the same ones that appeared in book 9 (Edward, Olaf and Bernardo). This group of US Marshals is trying to capture Vittorio, a deranged vampire who once left a high body count in St Louis.

In Skin Trade there are some definitive improvements over the latest books; at first it almost seemed like we were back in one of the first books: there was some gore, a new mystery to solve and fortunately the recurrent cast of characters (here called 'Anita's Merry Men') were left behind.
But it got bad real fast. You know how this book had 496 pages? Well, I think that if the author/editors had cut down the paragraphs and paragraphs describing weapons and it's uses; the scenes where Anita Blake bitches at men and women to "prove" that she's better than everyone; the boring sex and the endless info-dump-ey or just plain meaningless conversations, the book would have roughly 200 pages. And that would be good. It seemed to me that the author loses herself in unimportant things way too often. This made the book hard to read sometimes; I felt the story was fractured and out of order.

Also, those very same things annoyed me because I had the feeling that the author needs an update on today's society... her character seems to think she has to be "though" and "manly" to "survive" in a "world of men"; basically Anita Blake has to "be one of the guys". I confess I don't understand this mentality. It made me not like her so much. If the author feels that way, maybe the character should have been a male?

Another thing I didn't like was how Anita Blake was all powerful. I dislike those kind of characters, because who wants to read about them? I think people prefer to read about people who win against the odds. Humans going against vampires and other supernatural creatures and having to really fight their way through. Or at least I do.

The ending was pretty ridiculous too. This was mostly a waste of time. Still a bit better than the latest books. Despite some parts that I thought were a bit creepy and possibly poor taste.
Profile Image for Writtenwyrdd.
132 reviews8 followers
June 6, 2009
I liked it okay, but this book gives me mixed feelings, because the first eight books in the Anita Blake series were brilliant--and this was another half-loaf offering, I'm sorry to say. I really wanted to love this book as I'm invested in this series and these characters. Instead, it's a lukewarm reaction.

In "Skin Trade," the author has backed away from nothing but sex for plot progression...yet the book is still plagued with the same problems that beset her more recent offerings: not enough happening and too much pointless meandering and repetition.

The start was promising, but I was disappointed to find the book to be bogged down in enormously long telephone conversations, pointless (and repetitive) arguments with the cops, and odd dollops of backstory that came out of nowhere but which were referred to constantly but weren't present in previous books. Particularly annoying was how the other vampire slayers--Otto, Bernard and Edward-- know all about the ardeur and Anita's powers when that has never been onscreen, and the author even says Anita hasn't seen Otto but during the course of "Obsidian Butterfly"!

Other things that made this a difficult read was the way things kept happening "off screen." Anita passes out and things happen, progress is made, and she is taken care of like a helpless maiden. But also things that we would have expected a few books back are missing. We have a police case and very little in the way of vampire politics. Max and Bibi were too easy to deal with. Bibi wasn't mad about Anita being forced to get fresh with her husband--which in previous novels we would have expected from the way Bibi was portrayed.

Too many inconsistencies, too many off-screen events that were important to the plot progression, too much winging by our main character. And the constant refrain through this book (possibly the author's attempt to rein back the sexual escapades in the following books) of Anita saying, "Enough men! No more!" and yet STILL having to add another six or seven to her stable... Meh.

And all that complaining on Anita's part just makes her come across whiny, weak, helpless and feeling sorry for herself. In short, annoying.

I wish her the best on the next one; I'll buy it, but I'll have mixed feelings about doing so.
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