Skin Trade (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #17)

( 874 )


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. Police officers and one executioner have been slain-paranormal style.

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Skin Trade (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #17)

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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. Police officers and one executioner have been slain-paranormal style.

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  • Laurell K. Hamilton
    Laurell K. Hamilton  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hamilton's 17th Anita Blake novel draws the vampire hunter into a game of cat-and-mouse with a particularly monstrous vampire named Vittorio. Aided by sadistic serial killer Otto Jefferies, convenient sociopath Edward Kemper and fanged escorts handpicked by her lover Jean-Claude, U.S. marshal Anita offers her services to Las Vegas, now under siege from Vittorio's army of enthralled preternatural beings. Manipulated by the cunning Vittorio and occasionally misled by coincidental events, Anita employs her insight into Vittorio's condition and weaponized libido as the decisive weapons in this struggle. The book is largely concerned with the melodramatic conflict between hunter and hunter and Blake's soap-operatic love life, but Hamilton does manage some genuinely moving passages, particularly those describing the terror of innocent vampires caught up in the arbitrary and draconian U.S. legal system. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
USA Today
What The Da Vinci Code did for the religious thriller, the Anita Blake series has done for the vampire novel.
Entertainment Weekly
[A] wildly popular paranormal series.
Library Journal

In her 17th adventure (after Blood Noir), Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, also known as the Executioner, finds a surprise package on her desk early one morning. Inside, carefully packed in ice, is a human head. She knows this to be the handiwork of the vicious vampire serial killer Vittorio, whom she had chased from her hometown, St. Louis. The package was mailed from Las Vegas, so she leaves for Sin City and meets up with team members: cold, calculating Edward; psychopathic Olaf; and handsome, mellow Bernardo. Along with Vegas's preternatural police, they set out to track down Vittorio and anyone or anything else working with him. VERDICT For readers who have been longing for the engaging stories of the early Anita Blake urban fantasies, with lots of adventure nicely mingled with sexual tension but fewer pages of graphic sex, this is the book. Right from the start this supernatural thriller grabs the reader's attention and does not let go. Buy multiple copies for all those eager fans.—Patricia Altner,, Columbia, MD

—Patricia Altner
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515148053
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Series: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series, #17
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 130,675
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer and mother. Her bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels include Narcissus in Chains, Obsidian Butterfly, Blue Moon, Burnt Offerings, The Killing Dance, Bloody Bones, The Lunatic Café, Circus of the Damned, The Laughing Corpse, and Guilty Pleasures. She is also the author of A Kiss of Shadows and A Caress of Twilight. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family.


The vampire genre has enthralled readers ever since Bram Stoker introduced a certain Transylvanian count over a century ago. Since then vampires have been used as vehicles for everything from romantic novels to erotica to humor to the expected tales of terror. However, very few writers have combined all of these facets of the never-say-die vampire quite the way that Laurell K. Hamilton has.

Hamilton has not always been under the spell of undead things that go bump-and-grind in the night. When she was a young girl, her literary tastes were a bit more on the traditional side. "I wanted to be Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, because I had never read any science fiction, fantasy, or horror," she confessed in a podcast on Mayor "Then at 13 or 14 I found Robert E. Howard's short story collection [Pigeons From Hell]. It was the first horror, the first heroic fantasy, the first science fiction I'd ever read, and the moment I read that I knew that not only did I want to be a writer, but this is what I wanted to write."

Furthering Hamilton's burgeoning fascination with the fantastic, she discovered Anthony Masters's The Natural History of the Vampire at her high school library. Coupled with the ghost stories her grandmother had told her when she was a child and heavy doses of Hammer Horror movies from Great Britain, Hamilton was well on her way to creating a character that would only be rivaled by Buffy in the field of vampire slaying.

Hamilton first introduced vampire huntress Anita Blake in her third novel Guilty Pleasures. Blake is an unlikely combination of action hero, federal marshal, "necromancer," and lusty dame. Her exploits between the sheets and in the graveyard won Hamilton a rabid following hungry for something new in the well-traveled vampire genre.

Along with the kinds of scares normally associated with vampire stories, Hamilton's books are notable for their unflinching eroticism. Vampires have had a sexual lure since Stoker, but Hamilton particularly draws that aspect to the surface of her work as one of her creatures might draw blood from a victim. "I [want] a kiss to be so believable it gives the reader shivers," she says on her website. "Two things I do well are sex and violence, but I don't want gratuitous sex or violence. The sex and violence is only as graphic as need be. And never included unless it furthers the plot or character development."

Another unlikely trait of her books is humor, vampire tales classically being of the more solemn sort. However, a writer weaned on a book titled Pigeons From Hell is not likely going to shy away from wit. Consequently, her books have been consistently entertaining and fun, as well as creepy and sexy.

Hamilton has also brought her delicious combination of sex, humor, and frights to another series, this one more ingrained in dark fantasy than horror. Her faerie princess/P.I. Meredith Gentry made her debut in Kiss of Shadows in 2001 and has since sparked her own crowd-pleasing sword and sorcery meets pulp series.

Increasingly, the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry books have added more sexual content to their story lines, classifying both series in a new hybrid genre that blends romance, erotica, and paranormal fantasy. To judge from Hamilton's consistent appearance on the bestseller charts, readers find the mix spellbinding.

Good To Know

One thing you will never find in a Hamilton novel is a cliffhanger. She believes that cliffhangers unfairly tease readers who would then have to wait six months to a year to have some sense of resolution. As she said during an interview with Bill Thompson of Eye On Books, "Every book is a full meal. All the way from the appetizer to the dessert, so that you come away feeling that you've had an experience... and at the end you have that satisfied, full feeling."

Before Laurell K. Hamilton made a full-time career of blood, guts, murder, and mayhem, she had more humane pursuits -- she volunteered at an animal shelter where she played with unwanted pets.

In our interview, Hamilton shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself with us:

"I am incredibly stubborn. Telling me I cannot do something, especially if you cite the fact that I am a girl, will make me want to do it more and do it better."

"I am not my characters. We have some of the same traits in common, but we are very different people."

"Everything inspires me. Getting up in the morning, walking the dogs, watching a music video. Inspiration comes from everywhere."

"I love animals. I own four dogs, two of whom are rescues. In fact, Jimmy is with us because they were going to gas him if we didn't take him with us. As an older dog his chances of finding a home were fairly slim. But he has been a wonderful addition to our home."

"I like spending time with my family and friends. Something I often feel I do not do enough of. But there are only so many hours in a day."

"I like to read other people's works. I love reading cozy or historical mysteries when I can."

"I enjoy interacting with fans at planned public events. I enjoy talking to them and have met many wonderful people."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Laurell Kaye Klein (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 19, 1963
    2. Place of Birth:
      Heber Springs, Arkansas
    1. Education:
      B.A., Marion College
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 874 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 879 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2009

    Who are you and why are you calling yourself Anita Blake?

    I loved the earlier books in the series, lots of action, emotions a kick butt heroine. I preferred Anita's love with Jean Claude, and the tormented Richard to the new Anita who cant control her own sex drives. If she wasn't in the grip of the Ardeur, she'd just be a tramp, but because of the Ardeur, well, she's just a tramp. What happened to the zombie raising, vampire slaying woman in charge. Sorry to say, Anita's become June Cleaver with a serious sex addiction.

    27 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2009

    Missed some old friends

    Skin Trade was better than some, not as good as most in Anita's series. Kinder and gentler Edward was a little creepy, kinder and gentler Olaf was a lot creepy. An awful lot of repetitious dialogue and a very rushed ending. Ms. Hamilton should realize that readers who love long running series establish connections to characters. It is like visiting old friends once a year. The road trips are nice, but we also want to revisit the people in Anita's world that we've come to not only accept, but love. Frankly, Micah, Nathaniel, Asher, Jason, and Jean-Claude are why I still read the series. Everyone but the whiny Richard has become more interesting than Anita. Take a page from Nora Robert's JD Robb series. She's created a "family" in her world and we get to catch up with all of them in each book.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    SKIN TRADE is the best Blake urban fantasy in several years

    Amongst the vampire and shifter communities vampire executioner Anita Blake is notorious for her dead count; no one in the profession comes remotely close. However, recently she has had a catharsis of sorts as those she assumed are evil monsters may be the victims of a zealous bias by human society who has fears of the paranormal. Part of her mental revision is who she socializes with, which has led to the Federal Marshal Service no longer trusting her in spite of her record.

    However, Anita has no doubts that the serial killing vampire Vittorio who recently left St. Louis deserves death. He has begun taunting her sending her a victim's head via the post office. She takes up his gauntlet heading to Las Vegas where the package came from to confront him. In town are Federal Marshal Edward and serial killer Olaf; both want Anita. In Sin City, the sheriff wants Anita to leave while others like Crispin the were-tiger and Marmee Noir the creator of the vampire lines have uses for Anita; all hell is converging on Anita.; other supernatural entities have a use for her as well.

    SKIN TRADE is the best Blake urban fantasy in several years as the story line is a throwback to the earlier supernatural detective thrillers. Sex is limited instead of dominating and what there is enhances the storyline instead of owning the plot. Fascinatingly except for Edward there is no direct appearance of any other recurring support character as Anita using her brain more than her brawn and struggles with being the foci of the Vegas paranormal community.

    Harriet Klausner

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    No originality

    I've been badly burned by this author too many times to count. I loved the first 7 to 8 books; but the rest have been sadly lacking in plot. I don't mind romance, I don't mind sex, but would prefer a book with an interesting plot. I sat down with this book and was unable to connect with Anita Blake. She had become a robot with nothing to say but go to step 1, review step 1, plan step 2, evaluate step 2, implement step 2, review step 2 and then review the previous step(s). In other words, I'm not putting out my money for her stories because they are not original, not thought provoking nor enjoyable. As sorry as this story appears, it is still better than her previous books. Where is the gutsy Anita Blake who relied upon herself and her talents instead of invoking her lovers and sex? If she can't kill someone, she has sex with them? That is so lame! Anita used to have some morals and some standards. Did she and Laurel forget who Anita Blake was? It is almost to the point where I wish she'd staked Jean-Claude and start over again. I keep hoping that Laurel will start using the talent she showed at the beginning and write something that makes me want to buy it.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2009

    Read it completely, way disappointing...

    I've read the whole book, not just a chapter or two, and while I'm glad there wasn't any sex for the first 300+ pages, I was crushingly disappointed by the circular conversations Anita has with the police (which LKH has exhausted already with Dolph and the St. Louis cops) and the need to overly detail the law and regulations (I feel I could pass the bar in Anita's world, now). There was potential with the return of "gore" which I had appreciated in the earlier books, but the big finale had all the grandeur of a jr. high game of truth or dare. Like previous books, also, I felt the ending was quickly tied off in the last 10 or so pages, which is jarring after the slow going and repetitive conversations throughout the book. Did I find the question and answer shtick overdone? Yes. Am I doing it now to show what I'm talking about? You betchya.

    I think I owe someone money, because I had bet that if there was less sex it might breath new life into the series again. So, the fans that love the sex-stuffed recent books are probably going to turn on LKH, too, now. I just wish that Anita could maybe travel to a new planet, have new conversations and arguments with new people because I don't know where else the series could go.

    Good luck, LKH, still reading ya... cool book cover...

    12 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    blake is back..sorta

    I liked this book in general but I'm sort of getting sick of the whole ardeur thing. I guess I wouldn't mind it so much if it didn't keep adding men to her "menu" (as they say in the book) or if it didn't seem like such the focal point for the past 3 or 4 books. I'm glad that Anita seems to be back and doing her job but I'm going to have to agree with her in that she's got too many men on her plate and I think she needs a vacation! I think any other person would have had a breakdown by now. I find in series that have this many books in them the main character becomes so in demand from everyone around them and it's gets frustrating..I want them to tell the others to back off! I would love to see it go back to Jean-Claude, Micah and Nathaniel (maybe Richard if he hadn't become so annoying) (is it wrong that I'm hoping for 3 or 4 main men instead of 6 or 7??) and her doing her necromancer/US Marshal duties.
    So, if you liked the beginning of the series I think you'll like this one. Don't judge this series by the past few books because I don't think they are the best of the bunch. Happy Reading!! :)

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    Okay I started reading this series after I read the Twilight series because I wanted a adult vampire and werewolf series. I was extremely happy about what I read in the first few books of this series. It was very original, well written, funny, and some what romantic. I especially liked all the different were-animals in the books. With that being said the series has gone down hill. The author has to much going on with the main characterand all her men. In the last few book i read i thought Anita was learning to accept who and what she is but then the author goes and has her do something that she know she shouldn't do. Which makes me wonder if Anita is just being childish or if the author has forgotten what she wrote before. I've found a few cases where the book wasn't edited correctly and I also noticed in this book she refered to the lion clan and didn't say the leaders name.In the previous book she said that haven( cookie monster) was taking over the clan in st.Louis,but in this book she mentioned that the regina of st. louis would kill her. Haven wasn't married in the last book and she didn't mention him being married in this book. Was the original rex killed by haven or did haven go back to his old master. I think the author is forgeting to tie up a lot of loose ends in the books because she puts so much focus on the sex. There are way to many different sex partnerss. It cheapens the main characters toughness and through the books the author makes a point to say Anita always has to prove that she is as tough as the big boys. Also it seems like every other chapter someone is telling Anita how beautiful she is, what happened to the strong self-confident character we started with. Okay i'll end my rant with this. If your looking for a good series to read and enjoy throught this isn't the series for you. I'm only still reading it because I want to know what happens to Jean-claude and the were animals.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    really disappointed

    my first hardcover book and i had to waste it on this one. gave up reading it towards the middle of the book. boring and still anita's love life is too weird for me. i wont be buying anymore anita baker novels.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    Anita Blake

    I am disappointed in the way Anita Blake's character is going. I would like to see her and Jean Claude back together and both being the main characters instead via telephone!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    Love it.

    I love this series! Get pulled into the plots very quickly. I just wish she would go back to the old types of covers (with women or men on them) instead of the recent ones - remind me too much of the Saw movies!

    5 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    First Chapter

    On her website:, she has the rough draft of of the first chapter of "Skin Trade" posted and it is a very thrilling and kind of different take on how to start a first chapter, but it is a very good way to start the book. Laurell K. Hamilton has done it again, causing us to wait in anticipation for it's pending release. Overall, it is a very good book and I would recommend it to anyone who has read her works before. Laurell K. Hamilton draws you into Anita's world as soon as you read the first sentence.

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    She's Baaaaaaaaack

    Hamilton needed to write this book. It is one of the best ones from the Anita Blake series. I have been disappointed in a few of her books in recent years ,but "Skin Trade" reminds us that she is a creative conjure of nightmares and myths.
    The bare bones of the novel is that Anita is sent a severed head from Vegas. She goes there to meet up with her old buddy Edward,serial killer Olaf,and a squad of psychic Vegas police to find the killer. Yes, we hear the common complaint of Anita being treated like a whore by her peers in the police. Yes, towards the end of the book there is about 10 to 15 pages of erotica that didn't seduce my mind into sexy thoughts.(For a 486 page book, 15 pages is light compared to Hamilton's past writing,thank god). My only real complaint is I don't like how Anita thinks sex validates you,(for example for when she had sex with Domino to make him feel worthy and needed). But please don't get the impression that I didn't like the book. There are a lot of interesting themes going on in the book.
    Absolute power corrupts:Power,knowledge ect, can turn you into a jerk if you let it go to your head. You need people to balance you out and keep you in check. There is a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in all of us,we become what we put most of our energy into,(Anita questions herself, is she a necessary evil or good person).
    Love gave Edward a soul: In the past Ed was a two dimensional hell raiser who was good at killing vampires but now he hesitates to endanger himself needlessly. He has a family that loves him. Love can give meaning to life and a reason to quit chasing your demons.
    Olaf(serial killers are people to)That theme struck me as corny.
    Lastly with pure speculation, I think Hamilton is setting Anita up to be the next Mother of Darkness ,may she be benevolent in her powers.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Anita is back!

    I have been a long time Anita fan, but the last book in the series, Blood Noir, left me feeling "meh". I was beginning to question the direction the series was taking and whether or not Anita was going to do anything but run around and have sex all the time. Thankfully Skin Trade renewed my love for this series and pulled me right back into the action. It was great to see Anita reunite with Edward and get back to doing what it is she does best, kick some bad vampire butt. I realize that her powers and beasts are changing the way the game is played but I am glad that, at least for this book, they were not the main focus and didn't steal from the action. This is a great book that reminds me of some of the first Anita stories with plenty of new to make it interesting.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    Some of Laurell K Hamilton's Best Work

    This is a great book. It get Anita Blake back into police work and less about the sex (though there is still sex in this book). It brings Edward back (always one of my favorites), though I miss Jean-Claude and the other men who have a relative small part if in the book at all. Everyone who were starting to dislike the books because of all the sex should love this book. The police work is great. Anita works with the Las Vegas SWAT, which has a magical group. I think it helps her deal with her own magic.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the Anita books or the Merry by Hamilton. Other authors that are similar include; Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Jenna Black, Karen Chance just to name a few.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    Read it, liked it, then shelved it. Waiting for the next one!

    Since discovering the Anita Blake series, I have waited for each book with great anticipation. I have grown to love the characters and look forward to seeing their interaction with each other and the internal growth made by each character as the series progresses. I missed Jean Claude and Asher, Micah and Nathaniel, Jason, and even Richard with this book. When I saw that Havens was in this book, I started to get excited only to find out he is but a sleeping buddy and very little more. I would love to see that relationship grow between Anita and Havens. I enjoyed the new relationship between Crispin and Domino, but even that was not elaborated very much. The Wicked Truth involvement with Anita was comforting as I don't necessary want to read Anita the Slut episodes. The one thing I did truly enjoy about this book was the investigation side of the story. The internal conflict that Anita is now going through is interesting and perhaps the next book will begin to show how Anita will handle her conflicted view of her job and her numerous intanglements. I understand with a series of so many characters, that it is hard to do justice to each one in one book, but I think the yearly wait for the next story allows the Anita Blake fans to build up anticipation that may not be able to be meet. There are many of Hamiliton's books that I read numerous times, but I don't think this will be one of them.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    Ain't What It Used to Be

    I am extremely disappointed in the progress of the Anita Blake character. In every book she has the same dilemma of how many men she is going to sleep with and who she's going to kill. Since the book stopped having grittier sex scenes ( which I enjoyed) it seems this storyline is a waste of time. Also, I'm extremely disappointed in the ending of this book. You spent 6 bazillion pages giving overly detailed accounts about how Anita felt about everything leading up to the climax and then the ending was about 3 pages long. What was that? I don't know if I have outgrown the series or if the series has changed but it seems as if it just isn't what it used to be.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Anita Blake is back!

    I thoroughly enjoyed Skin Trade!! I have read all previous Anita Blake novels 1-16 in order, and have never stopped loving the series, even though I know that some fans dropped off after Obsidian Butterfly. The eroticism is pretty awesome, I am not ashamed to say. It truly adds to her relationships with the characters. Skin Trade seems to take a lot of the mystery and thriller elements that were in the stories prior to OB, and combines them with Anita's sexuality of novels #12-16. I really missed Jean-Claude and Nathaniel and Micah, though, I cannot lie! They're not much in Blood Noir or Skin Trade, maybe #18 we'll be back to them in St Louis instead of in her thoughts or on the phone =) I was relieved that Richard has somewhat disappeared, he was seriously getting on my nervvvvesssss. I love love love the way Anita's own character, and her relationships have truly grown to this point, over the past 5 years of her fictional life. I am so excited for a new novel, I hope it comes soon!!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009


    this series needs to end. instead of being pornographic it has turned into
    arguments with every new character introduced. the original story line is
    but a memory. stop now while there is still a fan base for something else.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book!

    This book is an EXCELLENT read; better than any "book club" or "Oprah" books. I made the mistake of starting it before bed, and then did not want to pt it down to go to sleep. I'll admit, that since this is the 17th book in the series, I wondered if Laurel K. Hamilton had any 'new' ideas left...and this book was so good, it has me anxiously hoping that I won't have to wait too long for #18!!

    One VERY important point though. Since this IS # 17, it helps if you are familiar with the series & characters. If you have read some of them and then lost interest...this is a good time to start reminds me of the excitement and nail-biting intesity od the first 3 or 4 that got me hooked in the first place!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Skin Trade

    I have been a fan of the Anita Blake series for awhile. I enjoyed every single one of them. Though they can be overly erotic as of late and missing plot, but was glad to see that Skin Trade involved a good plot and didn't revolve around Anita having to have sex 24 hrs a day as it seemed more so in the recent books. I missed the thrilling and amazing plot Laurell K. Hamilton would create earlier in the series. Skin Trade was great and it seems LKH is bringing her A game again. If your looking for something a little less erotic I recommend Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series. If erotic doesn't bother you than Anita Blake is your girl. As for me I can't wait for book #18.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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