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Skin Trade is the seventeenth book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of horror/mystery/erotica novels by Laurell K. Hamilton.

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.

Timeline Edit

Skin Trade takes place in August, two months after Blood Noir, and three years after Guilty Pleasures.

Time markers:

  • Skin Trade, chapter 04: "Two months ago, some very bad men had captured the both of us." Two months after Bloor Noir.
  • Skin Trade, chapter 55: "What did you expect, Halloween decorations in August?"
  • Skin Trade, chapter 29: Regarding Anita calling all the tigers: "A few months back, you did do that." A few months since Blood Noir.

Plot Edit

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.

Characters Edit

Major charactersEdit

  • 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.
  • 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."

Las Vegas police Edit

  • Undersheriff Rupert Shaw: When Anita receives a head mailed to her, she calls Las Vegas and finally speaks to Shaw, who is lead on the case. He doesn't like Anita and gets more hostile and sexist with her as the case progresses. It's revealed that his wife left him for a lycanthrope, so Anita's personal relationships to the monsters bothers him. As Anita is struggling with her own powers, Shaw is an obstacle as he would use any information against her.
  • Lieutenant Grimes: Grimes is with Shaw to greet Anita when she lands. He knows the laws around executioners since he'd been working with their executioner for a year. Anita feeds off his anger and accidentally makes him compliant to her will. He suddenly happily agrees to do as she suggests.
  • Sergeant Hooper aka Sonny: Hooper is suspicious of why the were-tigers call Anita "little queen," so he insists that Sanchez reads her.
  • Lieutenant Thurgood: She's part of Anita's interrogation.
  • Chief Detective Ed Morgan: He's part of Anita's interrogation. He plays good cop and brings Anita coffee.
  • SWAT team practitioners:
    • Randall "Randy" Sherman, call sign "Wizard": He died along with the Las Vegas executioner, and his jaw was torn off to prevent him from completing a spell. At the morgue, Anita smells tiger on his wounds. He was devout and serious about his faith, and interested in his faith's history.
    • Sergeant Rocco, or "Cannibal": He is the first other "living vampire" Anita has met, and he has the ability to feed on painful memories. Anita is able to take his power and turn it on him, and feeds on his memories of lust instead. After that, he is able to feed on "softer" memories as well. He goes into Trixie's to back up Anita with Vittorio, and he uses his power on Ava.
    • Davis, aka "Davey": He can manipulate the weather and air, and can make air shields that can even stop bullets. [1]
    • Mercer, aka "Mercy"
    • Rusterman, aka "Spider"
    • Arrio Sanchez: He reads Anita at Hooper's insistence, and doing so brings Marmee Noir. He confirms Anita's power for Hooper.
    • Theodorus, aka "Santa": He's called Santa because he "knows who's been naughty and who's been nice."
    • Moonus, aka "Moon"

Vampires Edit

  • Wicked and Truth: The vampire brothers 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.
  • Maximillian: 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).
  • Ten vampires bespelled by Vittorio to take hostages. With the help of Hooper, Grimes, and Anita, they are granted a stay of execution by the governor. Three are named:
    • Henry Jefferson: He is wealthy and was at a high-stakes poker table when Vittorio made him come with him. Anita estimates him to be over three hundred years old.
    • Steve: He is newly dead, and was formerly a drug addict who converted through the Church of Eternal Life. He was selling souvenirs down the street when Vittorio made him come with him. Steve is certain that Vittorio didn't bespell him with eye contact, but he isn't certain it was his voice either.
    • Sarah: Anita estimates her to be over two hundred years old. After Olaf tells her and the vampires that they'll be executed, she panics when she recognizes Anita Blake as The Executioner.

Were-tigers Edit

  • Crispin: A Vegas white tiger that Anita called and slept with in a previous novel, he remains devoted to her. Crispin is torn between obeying Anita or his tiger queen, but Anita is able to call him to her over his queen. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gregory Minns: A powerful white tiger, and the first on the list that the SWAT team take for questioning. He calls Anita "little queen," which leads Hooper to be suspicious that he and Anita have met before, although they have not. His profession is "bouncer," but Victor told Anita that he's muscle for Max's dirty work.
  • Paula Chu: A powerful white tiger who Anita suspects might be the one working with Vittorio. After noticing the surveillance on her home, she goes willingly with police for questioning. She was dating Martin Bendez.
  • Martin Bendez: A powerful white tiger who lashes out violently at his surveillance. He is gunned down. He had been dating Paula Chu.
  • Sebastian: Vittorio's black tiger to call. After sex with Anita, Vittorio's hold of him is broken by Anita's power. Since he is no longer under Vittorio's control, he tells Anita where to find Vittorio and how to wake the sleeping officers.[2]
  • Hunter: Red tiger who is part of Anita's group orgy. He's a stripper, and Anita's seen him on billboards around Las Vegas.[2]

Other characters Edit

  • Jason Schuyler: One of Anita's lover. He makes an attempt to stop her from leaving, trying to use his new pull on her, but it doesn't work.
  • Phoebe Billings: The Wiccan priestess of Officer Randy Sherman's coven. She answers questions when Anita and the marshals visit. She later provides Anita a spell in Arabic that will defeat Vittorio's jinn, which Rocco is able to recite.
  • Michael: Black dog of Phoebe's coven. He uses a sword made of fire to chase back the Mother of All Darkness.
  • Kate: Phoebe's daughter. She's dating a cop who leaks her information about the case, and she tells Anita about a member of their coven who had summoned a demon with knives for hands.
  • Todd Bering: A former member of Phoebe's coven. He is schizophrenic and off his medication. He summoned a demon with knives for hands that was trapped inside a summoning circle in his home. When the police go to investigate, the summoning circle is empty and Todd is dead, presumably because the demon got out and killed him before returning to where it came from.

Navigation Edit

Anita Blake Series
Novels

01. Guilty Pleasures • 02. The Laughing Corpse • 03. Circus of the Damned • 04. The Lunatic Cafe • 05. Bloody Bones • 06. The Killing Dance • 07. Burnt Offerings • 08. Blue Moon • 09. Obsidian Butterfly • 10. Narcissus in Chains • 11. Cerulean Sins • 12. Incubus Dreams • 13. Micah • 14. Danse Macabre • 15. The Harlequin • 16. Blood Noir • 17. Skin Trade • 18. Flirt • 19. Bullet • 20. Hit List • 21. Kiss the Dead • 22. Affliction • 23. Jason • 24. Dead Ice • 25. Crimson Death • 26. Serpentine

Short Stories Magic Like Heat Across My SkinBlood Upon My LipsThe Girl who was Infatuated with DeathThose Who Seek ForgivenessSelling HousesBeautyDancingShutdownA Girl, a Goat, and a ZombieWounded
Comics The First DeathGuilty Pleasures & HandbookThe Laughing CorpseCircus of the Damned

References Edit

  1. Chapter 70.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chapter 69.