I’ve been following the paranormal adventures of Anita Blake since the beginning. I stuck with her even when the books became little more than soft porn. With Skin Trade, Laurell K. Hamilton has returned to the feel of the beginning novels of the series, when character development was more emphasized than sex.
Don’t get me wrong. I like a well written sex scene, and Hamilton is a skillful writer. I just prefer a balance. In Skin Trade, the sex is in there because it has to be. Given who Anita is, it’s absolutely necessary to her character and the plot. Surprisingly, it doesn’t occur until we’re four-fifths of the way into the book.
Most of Anita’s usual cohort of vampires and shapeshifters are missing from this story. Fans of Edward will particularly enjoy this installment, however, as he and two other U.S. Marshals are prominently featured. (Hamilton pulls off a miracle in this book: she manages to humanize Olaf while not diminishing his creep-factor.) I liked the way she dealt with Wicca, too.
My only complaint about Skin Trade is that the first 100 pages dragged for me. In my opinion Hamilton could have tightened the first fifth of the book significantly. If you hang in there, however, you’ll be rewarded with a great read.