|Author||Laurell K. Hamilton|
|Series||Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter|
|Genre(s)||Horror, Mystery, Erotic novel|
|Publication date||June 2, 2009 (Berkley edition)|
|Pages||386 p. (Berkley edition)|
|Preceded by||Blood Noir|
While Anita Blake remains one of the most effective "legal vampire hunters" in the country, her personal life is in turmoil because of her close personal relationship with some vampires. Amid this backdrop, Blake goes to Las Vegas to investigate a vampire's serial murder spree.
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. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain—paranormal style. Anita heads to Vegas, where’s she’s joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It’s a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses “tiger” too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher.
- Marmie Noir supposedly meets her end in this book through a bomb that blows up her physical form. It is also revealed that she used to be part shapeshifter, part necromancer.
- Vittorio reappears and turns out to be more old and powerful than previously thought, the old love of Marmie Noir, Father of the Day as she was Mother of the Night. He tries to make Anita his human servant but is unsuccessful. He is killed in the end by the weretigers of Vegas with Anita's help.
- In this book we also find out that Requiem has requested Jean Claude to move to another town where he will be away from Anita and be able to maybe become second-in-command of a city.
- Anita meets another 'living' vampire who is a member of the Vegas SWAT team. Nicknamed 'Cannibal' he feeds off memories from people he touches. When he touches Anita, she temporarilly steals his power and is able to also feed off of one of his memories. At the end of the book we discover that he can use his power to wipe out all of the memories of a person so that they are a blank slate, his victim end up lying on the floor with a blank look in her eyes.
- Olaf returns in this book as US marshal Otto Jeffries and he hints that he would be willing to try to have a 'normal' romance with Anita, but he still creeps her out too much for anything to really develop.
- Anita Blake: Anita travels to Vegas because if she does not, she believes other people will die. She goes without most of her loved ones because she is afraid that Vittorio will use them against her. However, her troupe of men is always near her mind as she has to prove the male characters in Vegas that she is dangerous and does not sleep with anything that moves. A main theme scattered in the pages is the idea of not adding to her list of men that she sleeps with, however, in the end there is no resolution. A few more men are added to list, actually.
- Edward/Ted Forrester: Edward plays Anita's main friend and adviser in 'Skin Trade' if there is a problem, Anita looks to him to help solve it. The problems that he helps her range from her metaphysical issues to defending her from Olaf. Edward acts a little like a boyfriend to her to keep Olaf at bay, since no one else that Anita dates or loves is dominant enough. Yet Anita says she could never feed off Edward in any way because it would be like doing a family member. Edward admits to have been contacted as Death to take out the Mother of Darkness and he turned down the contract. The price was right, but he admits that he has commitments now, his alter-ego Ted has people who love him and Edward would prefer to return home to them than to fight something potentially more dangerous than he is.
- Olaf/Otto Jefferies: In the beginning Olaf creeps Anita out repeatedly, as it becomes apparent that he "likes" her. As in, he'd like to date her. For Anita, Olaf would try to be normal, he admits. In a tight moment, he offers to feed her if needed and says it would be regular sex, as little blood as necessary. Anita dances around the subject, trying not to get on his bad side, always remembering that some day she may have to kill him for her safety.
- Bernardo Spotted Horse: Bernardo's role in the story is more comic fodder. Anita cannot trust Olaf at her back and Edward as Death is scary to the prenatural community so the only other person to back Anita in situations is Bernardo. He mostly flirts with the female cast of the novel, but offered to be food if Anita needed him.
- Crispin: A Vegas white tiger that Anita called and slept with in a previous novel, he remains devoted to her. The epilogue mentions that Anita took him to St. Louis with her, as he is more loyal to her than to his tiger queen in Vegas.
- Max: Master Vampire of the City of Las Vegas. His animal to call is tiger, and he is married to Bibiana, who is the Queen of the White Tigers. They have a son, Victor, who is a lycanthrope (white tiger).
Recurring characters include:
- Wicked and Truth: The vampire brothers come are supplied by Jean-Claude in Anita's time of need. They both feed her and show off their flying ability and emotional detachment. Anita voices a concern about her ardeur to them, that if it takes her over, would they be able to kill her? They said they would be able to and considering they murdered the head of their bloodline it does seem feasible. While Anita doubts Edward could put her out of her misery if the situation demanded it.
- Requiem: He is unhappy with the situation in St. Louis and is hoping that by traveling to Vegas, he can find a new place to call home. He would like to have a woman who exclusively loves him versus Anita who has many men to love.
- Jean-Claude: In 'Skin Trade' Jean-Claude acts a bit more like Richard than what might have been expected. He is jealous and moody when he speaks to Anita over the phone. However, he does manage to send a variety of lycanthropes and vampires to help her out, toward the end of the story. Mostly, he is in the book more by mentioning, as Anita longs to be with him instead of whatever she is currently facing in Vegas or when Anita thinking about her life back in St. Louis.
- Marmee Noir: The Mother of All Darkness attacks Anita a few times in the novel, yet at the end is supposedly defeated by modern day weapons. She is a sort of red herring in the book since Anita believes she is to blame for the were-tiger issues she has. She had hoped to possess Anita's body since Anita and her had similar powers when she was alive. However, she is too weak and the attempt to mingle all the tigers' colors/powers and feed off that energy is defeated by her death.
- Vittorio: A centuries old vampire that was mentioned in passing in other books. It is revealed that he is far more powerful than he first seemed and he wants Anita, like so many other male characters, but he cannot have her due to the holy water damages he sustained and because she does not want him back. He has a ring that can control jinn and has the tiger as an animal to call. He and Marmee Noir shared a history where she took most of his powers and left him mostly helpless in the world. However, he has been regaining his powers back with her awakening and Anita must destroy him before he destroys Vegas. As Marmee Noir has a nickname of "Mother of All Darkness" his name is "Father of the Day" or "Father of the Tigers."
- Victor Belleci: Max's and Bibiana's white tiger son. Tiger clans are usually run by females, but Victor's power could place him as a king, he is that dominant. Bibiana would be happy to have Anita wed to him, but Anita is a bit "unavailable."
- Domino: A were-tiger with the ability to change into either a black tiger or a white tiger. His hair reflects the color of the tiger he last changed into. In the beginning he is very wary of Anita, but she unintentionally wins him over as the black tiger clan is scarce in members.
- Ava: Bibiana's assistant turned traitor. She is a victim to a were-tiger attack and in Bibiana's clan seen as a lesser member because she's not a pure blood lycanthrope.
- Bibiana: Queen ("Chang") of the White Tigers of Las Vegas, Wife of Max, Master Vampire of the City of Las Vegas, and Victor's mother.
- Cynric: A blue tiger and not of legal age in St. Louis, MO. In Vegas, his age of 16 years is apparently legal enough, however Anita is perturbed by his youth and his devotion to her after a group orgy.
|Anita Blake Series|
|Novels||Guilty Pleasures • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned • The Lunatic Cafe • Bloody Bones • The Killing Dance • Burnt Offerings • Blue Moon • Obsidian Butterfly • Narcissus in Chains • Cerulean Sins • Incubus Dreams • Micah • Danse Macabre • The Harlequin • Blood Noir • Skin Trade • Flirt • Bullet • Hit List • Kiss the Dead • Affliction • Jason • Dead Ice • Crimson Death|
|Short Stories||Magic Like Heat Across My Skin • Blood Upon My Lips • The Girl who was Infatuated with Death • Those Who Seek Forgiveness • Selling Houses • Beauty • Dancing • Shutdown • A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie • Wounded|
|Comics||The First Death • Guilty Pleasures (Handbook) • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned|