So let's talk about Laurell K. Hamilton!
Skin Trade is the latest novel in her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, aka the Power of the Month Club, aka the Biggest Mary Sue Known To Man. And... it's good? Like... seriously.
It's a thick damn book. I bought it in hardcover, because all of my ABVH books since I bought my first way back when I was a senior in high school (which was, you know, only like seven years ago) have been hardcover. I have to have them right when they come out. It's a thing. It's like I hate myself.
Now, what you need to know is that when the series started, they were supernatural murder mysteries, and the heroine, Anita Blake, was only an animator (as in, she raises the dead for a living). She wasn't a necromancer, vampire's human servant, werewolf pack's queen, wereleopard pack's queen, succubus, or anything else. And this shit was good. Then she started having sex, became a succubus, and the books were mostly really terribly written erotica. (No, seriously. Anne Rice's erotica is better. And I hate Anne Rice.)
This happened around book ten, Narcissus in Chains. And then it went on terribly for about five books (including a book about My Most Disliked Character, Micah, that I didn't even bother reading), before finally going back to being more like a murder mystery in The Harlequin. (And then backsliding a little with a pity sex opener in Blood Noir that sent me howling into class the next morning to bitch to my one and only ABVH reading friend.)
This all has a point, I promise.
And that point is that there was absolutely zero sex in Skin Trade until chapter 60. Yeah dude. And it was GREAT because Anita was in Las Vegas, solving crime away from the five billion dudes she's banging with Edward (everyone's favorite sociopath!), Olaf (everyone's favorite sociopathic serial killer), and Bernardo (meh).
It is with great pride that I can say this is the best cotton candy I have read from Hamilton in several years. I love her stuff, I honestly do, but J. Christ, it has been crap for a good long while. And Skin Trade was actually, you know, pretty awesome. I should've known, because the last couple of Merry Gentry (Hamilton's other series) books I've read have been really good, as well.
If you're a fan of Hamilton, you've probably already read Skin Trade. If you're not a fan of Hamilton, you probably need to start at the beginning of the series and slog through like all the rest of us have. If you're a former fan of Hamilton, then you might want to pick the series up again, because it's... actually kind of good again. (Although I really, really recommend picking up The Harlequin first, or you're going to be confused as hell. I mean, I've read The Harlequin, and I was, because it was long enough ago that I couldn't remember what happened.)
So, Ms. Hamilton:
I can't take back all those not-so-nice things I wrote about Anita-as-a-Mary-Sue in my essay last fall (on the bright side - I still hate Stephenie Meyer more and could never consume her as my personal printed cotton candy like I can you), but I'm glad you've finally taken a turn for the better.
My favorite thing about this book was Olaf. Can we see him and Edward more? Thanks. :)