~*~Disclaimer: I like the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I started reading this book knowing that I was going to like it. It is one of my favorite series’, so this review is inherently biased. That being said, if you already hate these books, this won’t be the installment to change your mind. Please take this review in the spirit in which it was written!!~*~
June 2, 2009. After months of waiting, the day finally arrived. And as promised, Skin Trade arrived on the shelf at my local Barnes and Noble. When I had it in my hands, all was right in the world.
Am I being overly dramatic? Perhaps. But I know that I am not the only one who had the date marked on their calendar. The almost empty promotional display at B&N made that pretty obvious. Which was fairly shocking, considering all of the bad press I have been reading about this book. Of course, while reading the negative critiques it was blatantly obvious that they were all written by people with preexisting issues regarding the Anita Blake series or Laurell K. Hamilton in general.
Volume seventeen (can you believe it??) of the Vampire Hunter series begins with Anita receiving a special delivery at her office. More specifically, a severed human head in a box. Gruesome, but not the worst thing she has ever seen. The post mark indicates that it was sent from Las Vegas, so she wastes no time in contacting the Vegas authorities. Upon doing so, she learns that the severed head is related to the brutal slaying of one of Nevada’s finest. At the murder scene a message was written on the wall in the victim’s blood; “Tell Anita Blake I’ll be waiting for her.”
She also learns that the murder wasn’t an isolated incident. Nor is the suspected murderer unfamiliar. It is Vitorro, a master vampire from Anita’s past. Needless to say, she hops the nearest flight west, and dives right into the thick of the investigation. Much to the chagrin of the local law enforcement. And with her old buddy Ted Forrester in tow, along with the rest of the crew from Obsidian Butterfly. We are also reintroduced to the weretigers we met in Blood Noir, as well as the rest of the Vegas clan.
One of the most surprising elements of this installment is that all of Anita’s lovers are practically nonexistent. Neither Micha nor Nathanial get a single line. Jason is regaled to a single scene in one of the early chapters. Jean Claude only gets face time via phone calls, and Richard is referred to only once. There is none of the focus on the triumnuvate that is usually so prevalent. And there are only two graphic sex scenes. It is almost as if Hamilton’s writing style has taken a trip back in time, as this edition more closely resembles the first six or so books in the series; the books that so endeared so many to the Anita Blake series.
While reading this book , I tried to find something about it that was offensive enough or writing of such poor quality to that it would justify any of the hateful things I have seen written about the book or its author. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I was unable to do so. No, the book wasn’t perfect. Few are. However, it in no way deserved the negative press that it received from readers who have become disenchanted with the series. All in all, I have to give it four stars. And I also feel compelled to give readers some advice. If you do not like a book, whether because of its writing style or because you are offended by its content, you have the option to stop reading it. If it is part of a series, you are not required to continue buying and reading future installments. There is absolutely no reason to publically bash an author simply because what they write is not what you want to read.