Where do I start? I actually finished the book several days ago and I've been trying to decide how I feel about it.
On the one hand, the plot was good, and there was more action and less sex. Not that sex bothers me, but a few books seemed to be more sex than story, or maybe it's more accurate to say that in some of those books the sex was the story. Thankfully, in Skin Trade the sex is not the story. I appreciated that there was a plot other than sex. I think we were two-thirds or maybe even three-fourths of the way through the book before Anita has sex for the first time.
However, there was way too much bickering with the local police department. Very unprofessional. She's a Federal Marshall, she doesn't have to prove herself to them! They can't lock her in an interrogation room and try to find an excuse to arrest her, she's a Federal Marshall!!!! And why is it that every police leader Anita comes in contact with seems to have a personal problem with "the monsters"? Skin Trade could have been about 100 pages shorter, without all of the unprofessional police stuff, and been a much much better book.
A story where Anita comes to town and is treated like the Federal Marshall that she is would be welcome.
But, back to something positive, when I look at the book in terms of where it is taking the series, I'm mostly pleased. Anita is growing, and learning, and gaining control of her powers. If only she could hit a plateau long enough to gain control of what she has before she gets even more, I think she'd have much better control.
Before I go much further, here's the blurb:
When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain - paranormal style. Anita heads to Vegas, where's she's joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It's a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses 'tiger' too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher.
You can figure out from the blurb that she'll see the tigers again from Blood Noir, right? And we'll likely see the Master Vampire of Las Vegas, the same one upset with her for calling his tigers to her in Blood Noir.
I will say that one major plot point that has spanned a lot of books gets tied up in this book. Or, I think it does, anyway. The finale of it was almost anti-climatic. It was a good way to handle it, so I'm not disappointed. Sometimes the way that makes the most sense, the easiest way, is the way with the least amount of drama to it. (Select the spoiler text to view it.)
Along with Edward, we have Bernardo and Olaf back again. There was dialogue and interactions between Anita and Olaf that were... troubling. Troubling in a thought provoking and entertaining way. It will be interesting to see where LKH takes things with Olaf in future books. There were also some interesting conversations between Edward and Anita, for that matter.
I think LKH is heading the series towards a different arc in the story, one where Anita has more control of the Ardeur and it doesn't rule the show, so to speak. The Ardeur will still have to be fed, but I don't think it is going to continue to be front and center and a major part of the story. I look forward to seeing how LKH turns the story, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
And now for the big question. What do I rate Skin Trade? After giving it a lot of thought I'm going to give it a 7, though I came very close to giving it a 6. Without the drama of the police "undersheriff" disliking her the book would have been an 8.
I'm leaving the series at a 9 of 10.
Book Rating: 7 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10
1. Guilty Pleasures
2. The Laughing Corpse
3. Circus of the Damned
4. The Lunatic Cafe
5. Bloody Bones
6. The Killing Dance
7. Burnt Offerings
8. Blue Moon
9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)