Saturday, September 5, 2009

Laurell K. Hamilton and Anita Blake: Conflicted and Tired

Before I get to my review I have good news! The City of West Palm Beach just opened a brand new and gorgeous Library on Clematis Street. It has plenty of books, magazines and the usual library fare. It also boasts a ton of audio books, movies, music cd's and even video games in their new digital library section. Their teen section is killer and includes computer stations with research sites a click away for those pesky term papers. It even has a little coffee shop attached where I can get my favorite brew or a grilled cheese sandwich at lunch while I drool over my newest acquisitions. The new Library rocks and it is just a short trolley ride away from my office, woo hoo!!!!

While I was perusing the luscious written libations on all the shelves I came across Laurell K. Hamilton's newest Anita novel,
"Skin Trade". I have been shying away from this series for the last 2 books. I don't know if you remember my post on her latest Merry Gentry offering but I enjoyed it a lot and I thought maybe she would repair the problems with Anita's story the way she did with Merry. I think she still has a way to go to get her fire for Anita back but "Skin Trade" was more like the Anita I came to know and love. I applaud Ms. Hamilton for making Anita and the conflict the stars and not the sex. I have said it before I love a good sex scene but it has to make sense and be a part of the story NOT be the story.

Anita has to go to Vegas in the line of her job as a Federal Marshall and Vampire Executioner. She believes Vittorio, the serial killing Vampire, is back in action after receiving a human head in the mail and a bloody invitation to "Catch me if you can" in Vegas. The first inkling of personal conflict for Anita is how difficult it is for her to leave Jean Claude and the St. Louis gang in the name of work and literally runs while they lay dead in their beds.
When she arrives in the City of Sin she is met by some of my favorite human characters in the Series.
Edward (Ted) Forrester: the baddest executioner in the business and is called "Death" by the monsters he kills.
Otto (Olaf) Jefferies: No nickname is necessary for the serial killer who, because he is a Federal Marshall, can legally be paid for his passion.....slashing and bashing.
A new hunter joins the crew, Bernardo who is a sexy Native American who can get any woman he wants but Anita.
These guys know about the ardeur. Olaf and Bernardo offer to be Anita's emergency meal. Edward abstains since it would be too much like doing his sister and Donna wouldn't understand.
The Vegas SWAT team and the Sheriff's office play important supporting cast roles as does the Vegas Master of the City's wife Bibiana and her tigers.
The first 80 pages or so had me glued to the story and I was looking forward to Anita kicking serious vamp/monster butt. Unfortunately, the story gets bogged down with, what has become the usual, Anita angst and how she is going to deal with the ardeur and her growing psychic super powers. The conflict stopped being about Vittorio, the Vampire, but once again Anita defending her life style to all the human men. In fact a good hundred pages or so deal with her proving herself to the SWAT team that she is worthy of getting the monster who killed 3 members of their team and put 7 of them into a magical sleep. This is the most successful Vampire Hunter in the world with more kills than anybody and yet she goes so far as out weight lifting the biggest guy on the team and still she is looked at like she is out of her league.
I have read some reviews that the Vegas police were treated unfairly because a third of them couldn't deal with Anita's reputation as a hunter, a vamp's girlfriend and all the men she has been having sex with. I liked how some of the anger at her were projections of personal baggage on the part of some like the
Under-Sheriff and I have to say if I met a woman who seemed to collect men the way some collect shoes I would be put off too. The problem is that Ms. Hamilton never let's Anita move past it. Anita demonstrates in several ways that she is badder than any of the SWAT guys could hope to be and yet even in the end she is dealing with snide, crude and honestly distracting bull-crap.
I did like the strange and curious Olaf. When last I saw him he was covered in gore and masturbating. I was completely grossed out and appalled. It was great creepy and disgusting writing. I don't like him but I like his story/character. Does that make sense?
I didn't like the throw in/throw away of Marme Noir. It was too abrupt, especially the bombing. I think I see where this might be leading but it felt awkward to me.
Jean-Claude and the St. Louis crew take a backseat in this installment and while I think it was an interesting change for Anita, I must admit I missed them. I didn't miss Richard. In fact, thank you Laurell, for leaving him wherever, (hehehee, get it...werever. I crack me up sometimes), he was. I would
Bottom line, I enjoyed "Skin Trade". I appreciate Ms. Hamilton's turn back to the story of Anita the Hunter. I would love to see more of her growing psychic powers. Sometimes I wonder if Jean-Claude might begin to be threatened by this growing power in his lover and servant, hmmmm....that might be an interesting arc to explore in the future. Keep 'em coming Laurell!

Comic Book, eh?