Review by J. STEPHEN BOLHAFNER
Anita Blake's 17th adventure takes her to Las Vegas, which she describes as being "like Disneyland on crack, for grown-ups." The head of her counterpart, the official Vampire Executioner for Las Vegas, was mailed to her by a vampire serial killer.
You may think all vampires are serial killers, but not in Anita's world. The series, written for adult readers by St. Louisan Laurell K. Hamilton, is set in an alternate universe. In Hamilton's fictional universe, vampires and werewolves and such are not only real, but out in the open and struggling for civil rights.
Not all vampires kill. They can find lots of willing donors, because vampires are just as hot and sexy in Anita's world as they are here in our world, where they're confined to fiction.
Vittorio is different. Psychologically and sexually sick, he has the mind and soul of a human serial killer with the preternatural powers of a vampire. Anita encountered Vittorio five years ago, in "Incubus Dreams." He got away at the end of that book, and she vowed to track him down. Now, she has a lead.
All she has to do is walk into an obvious trap.
Anita encounters difficulties other than those posed by the enemy. There's a SWAT team that demands she prove herself, an openly hostile sheriff and the wife of the city's Vampire Master who wants to use Anita for her own purposes.
The 17th book of an ongoing series is never an ideal jumping-on place for readers. However, most of the established elements are either explained fully or not really necessary to the plot.
"Skin Trade" is a solid effort from a first-class storyteller.