Monday, August 3, 2009

Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 17) by Laurell Hamilton (4/5 stars)

This is the 17th book in the Anita Blake series that is still going and going. This is the first book in a long time that reverts back to the older style of Anita that we all knew and loved; at least for some of the book. For once this book is about Anita's job and her skills as a vampire executioner; there are guns, gore, and lots of action. This was my favorite book in this series for a long time.

When Anita gets into work (yes, she does still hold a job, believe it or not) she has a special package on her desk. It is the head of the vampire executioner from the Las Vegas area. It appears that Vittorio is back to his old serial killer ways. He is trying to lure Anita to Las Vegas; of course it works. Luckily for Anita, Edward and Olaf are there to cover her back. Of course given Olaf's own serial killer profile whether or not he is a danger or protection is up for grabs. Of course as the hunt progresses Anita's metaphysical junk comes into play, we find out that Vittorio is more than we originally thought, and Marmee Noir is restless (as Marmee Noir learns of plots to destroy her physical body) and wants a new physical body.

This is, by far, the best Anita Blake book in a long while. There are lots of guns and lots of gore; lots of shooting and lots of killing. It is not, of course, the Anita of the earlier books, as she has changed as a character. In this book Anita struggles a lot with how her preternatural powers interfere with her vampire slaying. You see that Anita is getting tired of killing and you see how she struggles with the fact that she now sees monsters as people with feelings and problems. She is also struggling with how to deal with the fact that she has so many people to take care of that need her (all those guys) and never gets a moment of alone time.

Edward is excellent in this book, as always. Olaf is super creepy and bothers me as a character, but I think that is his purpose. About 2/3rds or maybe even 1/2 way through the book a lot of metaphysics starts happening; then sometimes Anita starts channeling a bit of Meredith Gentry if you know what I mean. You see a lot of the Wicked Truth (Truth and Wicked take center stage for much of the end of the book). There are many different colors of weretigers involved also. This book actually wraps up a lot of major plot points rather nicely and leaves me wondering what the next book will be about.

One of the bad things about this book (because it is by no means flawless) is that Anita spends an inordinate amount of time "proving herself" to the other good guys because she is a woman. This is something I thought we worked out in earlier books but apparently it is still an issue Anita has trouble handling. I am also not sure sometimes what all the creepy scenes with Olaf were about; maybe they were there to prove that if Anita can relate to Olaf than she is definitely a monster and can understand monsters...I am not sure. I also missed Jean Claude; he was present mainly in passing and he mainly spent time whining that Anita should have told him she was leaving. Richard is not mentioned one iota, which I actually count as a positive.

Overall I actually enjoyed reading this book and liked it. The way it ends really made me wonder what is next for Anita though. I also constantly question how long this series is going to continue; last I heard it was contracted for 22 books...if anyone knows let me know.

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