Skin Trade Chapter 6

WARNING: Contains copious amounts of stupidity, rambling, and some racism. Not from me, from the book.


ROCCO AND I slipped our shields back up the way others would have shrugged their jackets on. We were both professionals; nice.

Somehow I don’t remember all these references to “shields” in books past, and the necessity of SuperspeshulSue having them. Hmm, can being “queen of the psychics” be far behind?

So they go tooling into a “really big” garage filled with superawesome trucks, and Anita practically wets herself because of all the MANLY MACHO toys lying around.

I would say the garage was full of trucks, but the word didn’t do them justice.

… so, what are they then? Armadillos?

I’d seen the equipment that St. Louis SWAT had, and I was suddenly filled with serious equipment envy.

First of all, trucks aren’t really called “equipment,” at least as far as I know. Secondly, the actual stuff referred to as “equipment” presumably wouldn’t be lying out in a GARAGE so Anita could gawp at it. Third, she’s not a part of the St. Louis SWAT – she just buys lots of guns. So why would she be acting as if she’s one of them and is jealous of another SWAT’S awesome toys.

And yes Anita, we’ve figured out that you have “equipment envy.” It’s blatantly obvious.

I recognized the Lenco B.E.A.R., because St. Louis had one, but the rest were new to me.

I can only assume that Hamilton horned in on the SWAT team and gathered as many buzzwords to utter as possible. She won’t talk about what they actually are, just tosses off the terms like an expert.

I mean, I could guess what they did, but I didn’t know the names.

Which is of course deeply important. How can you feign expertise without knowing the names?

The vehicles alone were intimidating and strangely masculine.

“Holy fuck! What IS she doing to the truck?”
“I… think she’s fucking the shift.”
“Will someone PLEASE make her stop? I have to drive that thing!”
“Oh gross. I have to burn the truck now.”

but there was nothing feminine about anything sitting in that garage.

Translation: They’re utterly and completely girly in every way, short of having pink glitter on the windshields. Whenever she says something is masculine, it means that they’re basically girls with penises.

Anyway Anita is busy drooling on all the macho-man vehicles, and finally Grimes tries to get her to snap out of it. He’s being pretty nice, but the fact that he’s a human cop means he’s inevitably gonna be crapped on. And while they drag her off to the conference area, Anita stops to gawp at the big beige lockers with locks. She starts thinking about how they’ll cram her thousands of phallic weapons in there, and how Sonny’s gun safe is “dandy.” Yes, she actually used the word “dandy,” by Jove! I say, what ho!

So they saunter into a conference room, which Anita describes in detail, and declares all very classroom. Frankly, this isn’t exactly screaming, “I’m a super professional who knows it all!” It sounds like this is the first time Anita’s ever seen a conference room.

I couldn’t decide if I felt ambushed or would have done the same thing in their place. Would I have trusted me?

Of course she wouldn’t have trusted her, and of course she would have done the same thing in their place. Anyone more powerful than Anita is obviously evil, and she will immediately level up in time to obliterate them.

And since she’s utterly obsessed with hair, Anita starts prattling about their haircuts as if this has any importance to the story. Remenber that severed head? I barely do: They all had the same short haircuts as the rest, as if they went to the same barber, but I had Shaw’s high and tight to compare them to, which meant they all had plenty of hair, it was just short.

So the men don’t have flowing waist-length hair. Most people who work in dangerous action-packed professions keep their hair short, and most normal people don’t sit there analyzing the follicles of said people.

Since obviously Anita has never seen a military/cop/SWAT guy before, she sits there contemplating that the SWAT guys are all tall and muscular and physically fit (unlike the short flabby doesn’t-exercise-because-she’s-too-busy-screwing-bishies Anita).

And it’s very obvious that LKH has never actually met any military/cop/SWAT guys before, because she loftily declares that the only major. difference is just color of skin, eyes and hair. So what, nobody has a big nose or a cleft chin or a birthmark? Nobody has any scars? Nobody has lean muscle rather than bulky? Naaaahhh, they’re all just there to have pissing contests with Anita, so they don’t need characteristics.

Did I feel left out? Naw.

And if she did feel left out… who cares? They ARE a team and a unit, who have to work together or run the ultimate risk. She’s not part of the team and she wouldn’t work with anyone else as equals anyway… so why would she feel “included” with the traditional band o’ brothers?

So somebody (she doesn’t make it clear who) starts introducing the guys, half of whom have silly nicknames for no discernible reason. I suspect somebody on a real-life SWAT team was having fun with LKH. “Yes, this is Bilbo, and this is Tigerpaw, and this is Madonna, and this is Lionel Cumberpants III….”

I won’t bother with the descriptions and names of each of the SWAT guys, because none of them really factor in the plot. Anita ogles one, is racist about another, gets a static electric shock, and keeps going on about how men are scared to shake her hands because they’re so small and delicate. As someone with small delicate hands, this has never happened to me.

This is one of the biggest problems with LKH’s series – she has an OCD obsession with noting EVERYTHING around Anita as if it were important AND IT’S NOT.

He had a good handshake, too. Maybe they all practiced.

Yes, I’m sure they regularly practice squeezing water balloons, lest a teeny tiny hobbity woman with little breakable doll extremities should want to shake hands with them. It’s totally worth wasting time on that!

It wasn’t just that they were all tall and athletic, but there was a sameness to them, as if whoever hired for the unit had a type he liked and stuck to it.

Funny, that’s what I have to say about the type of men LKH likes – they’re all basically short delicately-pretty girly-men with flowing locks and anime-colored eyes and hair.

And then… gasp! Generic Mexican SWAT Guy accidentally zaps Anita: Sanchez’s hand in mine gave a little spark, like a small jolt of electricity as we touched.

Most people wouldn’t make a fuss about a bit of static, but this is Anita. So of course the smallest thing must be fussed over. And generally sparks on people’s hands ARE a small jolt of electricity, because FIRE sparks are harder to generate.

“You spiked her, Arrio; bad practitioner, no cookie,” Spider said.

It’s hard to see why anyone would be so worked up by this, or even if it was intentional. And “Bad practitioner, no cookie” is the sort of awkward stilted line that LKH clearly thinks is spare and grittily realistic.

The other men gave that masculine chuckle that women, even butch women, can never quite imitate.

And I’m sure Anita would know, since she probably spends hours trying to imitate said masculine chuckle.

And considering that Anita is enraged by the suggestion that she is a woman, exactly how macho do you have to be to be considered a “butch woman” by her? Oh right, she means “short-haired.”

He smiled and nodded, but he was embarrassed. I realized that the handshake had been a test not just for me but for all of us. Just as the men would test their bodies in weight training, the gun range, drills, this was a test, too.

… okay, I might be able to understand why they might want to test Anita. But pray, why are they trying to test themselves and each other? Is it that Anita is sooooooooo awesome that if the Awesome Executioner of Sex And Darkity-Darkness can’t tell what they are, nobody can?

And for that matter, apparently this entire team is made up of psychics. Why do they have a SWAT TEAM full of psychics? Why not have a regular SWAT team, and the psychic practitioners in another team? It’s like taking highly skilled artists and using their talents by having them join the Marines!

He was Theodoros, very Greek sounding and looking, but he was Santa,

Well, here’s a weird idea: “Santa” can mean “saint.” But then, Anita apparently takes pride in ignoring her Mexican heritage, so I can see why that wouldn’t occur to her first off the bat.

though Santa never looked like that when I was a little girl.

Yeah, that Santa is old and ugly and red-faced and fat. She’d never screw someone who looked like that.

His hair was straight and as black as Sanchez’s and my own. He was the proverbial tall, dark, and handsome, if you were into jocks.

Unless you’re like Anita. She’s a GAWTHE and only likes unathletic prettyboys.

I wondered how in hell he’d earned the nickname “Santa.” It was Spanish for saint, but somehow I didn’t think that’s what they were going for.

I’m amazed that she actually knows that basic linguistic fact. Of course, apparently she also doesn’t know that “Santa” refers to a FEMALE saint. “Santo” would be the male equivalent, unless I’m mistaken.

And of course Anita doesn’t think that he could possibly be a “saint” type. He’s attractive, and everybody knows that attractive people must be sluts.

Santa didn’t have any trouble shaking my hand and not letting me feel anything but a firm handshake.

Again, what world does LKH live in that she thinks that women with small hands can have your average strong guy crush them without meaning to? Maybe she assumes that a big guy automatically wouldn’t be able to control his giant pulsating muscles, and they would leap out to hurt people at random.

It would be a point of pride for him and the last man. Sanchez had blown it; they’d work harder because of it.

Because of course etiquette dictates that if you accidentally zap someone when shaking hands, everyone in your team must commit seppuku.

The last man was also ethnic, but I wasn’t entirely sure what flavor.

… that is my cue to have my brain explode from the casual racism.

  1. Ethnic? I find it hard to believe that Hamilton belongs to the same general age group as my mother, because she’s casually tossing around dated racist terms that divide the entire world into “white” and “ethnic.”
  2. She can’t just say that he isn’t Caucasian, she has to lump him in with members of every non-lily-white ethnicity in the world. There are only two groups in the world: white, and not-white.
  3. But what am I saying? This woman wrote her Sue as calling someone a “dago” earlier in the series. I’m shocked she didn’t lose her readership then and there.
  4. What “flavor”? This is apparently Hamilton’s new favorite word, but in this context it just makes the whole sentence even more offensive.

His short hair was curly enough to be African American, but the skin tone and facial features were not quite that. He, too, was tall, dark, and handsome, but in a different way. His eyes couldn’t decide if they were dark brown or black. They were somewhere in between my dark brown and Rocco’s almost black. But either color, they were framed by strangely short but very, very thick lashes, so that his eyes looked bigger and more delicate than they were, like something edged in black lace.

Well, here’s a shocking idea, LKH – sometimes black people and white people get married, they have kids, and those kids end up having characteristics and features that are in-between those of their parents. They’re called “biracial.” Ever heard of them? One of them was president when this book was published.

Rocco motioned me to follow him to the front of the room. We stood in front of the whiteboard. “I’m Cannibal.” Like Spider, Cannibal made me wonder why that name.

Hopefully it involves running Anita through a meat grinder, but I’m not holding my breath.

“The Executioner.”
I nodded. “The vampires call me that, yeah.”

And when people refuse to acknowledge her awesomeness, she has no problem waving around her gun and using it herself. Anyway, there is yet another mention that Anita is SUPER-SHORT SHORTY SHORTSTUFF LIKE A HOBBIT. She also doesn’t want to be called that because it’s such an unhappy name.

“Are you embarrassed by the name?” he asked.
“No, but it’s like Ivan the Terrible. I doubt seriously that anyone ever called him that to his face.”

Yeah, but in Anita’s case, calling her the “Executioner” is treated as a badge of prestige – oooooo, she’s SOOOOOOOO smart and soooooooooo cool and deadlier than anybody cuz she’s sooooo ruthless. If she were referred to as “Anita the Terrible,” she’d just pitch a bitchfit.

I sighed. “I’d rather you didn’t, Sergeant. I’ve had too many bad guys call me that while they tried to kill me. They look at the package and call me Executioner to make fun of me. How small, how delicate, how not deadly looking.”

Marvel at how scary and amazing and TUFF she is! She looks like a wittle tiny china doll, but she can KILL you! And by “kill,” I mean she’ll flop on her back and kill you with the power of sex/lurve/kisses and whatever power she’s pulled out of her butt.

And lest anyone forget, she’s tiny and not scary looking. And she can go for book after book without legally slaying a single vampire. And if you’ve read the comics, you’ll notice that she keeps having to be rescued by big strapping men. And she falls down and faints a lot. But she’s tuffer than anyone else! WOOOOOOO, be afraid!

“And after they make fun of you?” he asked, voice serious, eyes studying my face.
I met his gaze. “Then they die, Sergeant, or I wouldn’t be here.”

Last time a villain made fun of her, Anita got gutted while somebody else killed the bad guy. I guess she can’t say that, or her whole attitude of “I is tuff and killz baddies!” would shatter like her wafer-thin “morals.” This is especially funny since the same thing happens later in this book – somebody mocks Anita, so she sexes him with the ardeur and then sits there while somebody else kills him.

“I promise never to call you short again,” Davey said.

“Ooooo, please don’t hurt me, Hobbity Queen of Darkness!”
“Watch out, guys. She’s punching me in the knee with her tiny fairy fists.”

“Anita, then, if you go out with us.”
“Whether you let me go with your team depends on how this little test goes, doesn’t it?”

Maybe it’s to make sure that when a bad guy comes charging in, Anita won’t instinctively react by falling to the ground and spreading her legs.

So anyway, Grimes starts infodumping about how there are lots of psychics and they need to check out her abilities and make sure they don’t “clash” with the guys on the team. Anita, of course, can’t let anyone else take the spotlight, so she starts rambling on about how Cannibal is also testing the men at the same time. I’m not sure why she’s saying this, because it doesn’t actually mean anything and it doesn’t tell Grimes anything new.

“You hunted this vampire before, and we need to know what you know.”
“It’s in the reports,” I said.

Including the parts where she let the guy escape because she was too busy “rainmaking” on her office carpet with her damaged barely-legal boytoy, grinding on the clones of Legolas and Aragorn, and fucking a fifteen-year-old gay vampire stripper while an emo poet-goth got off on the ardeur? I’m sure she mentioned THAT.

He shook his head. “Cannibal’s abilities will tell us whether your reports were accurate.”
“You mean, if I lied.”

I’d be worried about that. Anita’s already demonstrated that she’ll lie, murder and evade whatever laws she wants to if it means she can continue being the vampiric mob boss of St. Louis.

He smiled and shook his head. “Left out things, not lied. You’re dating the master of your city, Marshal, living with him; we need to know if that has compromised your loyalties.”

Which is exactly the sort of attitude you’d expect. She’s a Federal Marshal who is literally and figuratively in bed with all sorts of extralegal organizations who employ rape, murder, torture and coercion on anyone they have a problem with, and who are massive potential threats to local and national security (except that they’re all too busy thinking about Anita to mind-control the president or whatever). What’s more, their ultimate loyalty is to a power pyramid without ethics or structure except “might makes right” – and Anita is the Mostest Powerfullest of them all, even sentencing a man to death for daring to stay faithful to his wife.

Damn right they should be concerned about her loyalties.

Amazingly, Anita doesn’t fly into a harpylike rage at having her loyalties justifiably questioned, and just sneers: “Thanks for the politeness, Lieutenant; the last Vegas cop who asked me accused me of fucking everything that moved.” How dare he! Doesn’t he know that she only fucks everything that moves if it has seven feet of rainbow hair, garnet-colored eyes, lily-white skin and supernatural powers?

“Wizard was Cannibal’s second-in-command for this squad.”
“Wizard was the man you lost,” I said.

She’s like Sherlock Holmes with boobs. The deductions simply astound me. No wonder the Anita Blake books are considered the epitome of twisty-turny whodunnits.

“If I don’t pass your test, what then?”
“I won’t endanger my men,” Grimes said, “if you are the danger, Marshal Blake.”

Well, the biggest risk is of being dragged into her Ma Petite Fissure De Ruine, which resembles that giant kraken beast at the end of “Pirates of the Caribbean 2.” Or the sarlacc.

Fortunately these guys aren’t pretty, feminine or easily enslaved, so they’re safe.

And Anita starts getting pissy when they basically say that if she doesn’t pass, they’ll get a vampire hunter who doesn’t screw them up psychically, which is a perfectly reasonable decision. How dare they not consider her to be essential! She insists that the other ones won’t be psychic enough to be any help, despite the fact that she hasn’t legally killed a vampire in eons, and she let this one prance right out of town while she was perfecting her orgasmic shrieks.

“Can any of you sense the living dead?” I asked.
“None of us has a talent with vampires in particular, no.”
I stared into Cannibal’s dark eyes as I said, “The dead come in lots of flavors, not just vampires, Cannibal.”

… but they’re not up against other types of undead. Just the vampire and his minions. I suppose this is Anita’s transparent attempt to seem super-important and vital to the mission, but honestly… they don’t need her superspeshul psychic powers to hunt a vampire, and her physical contribution is nil. So…. they really just need her legal presence.

“Just as vampires come in different flavors, too.”

I’m sure she’s intending to point out that HE’S a psychic vampire… but that would be a lot more striking if it weren’t coming from somebody who feeds off sex/anger, and has every vampire power…. and then some.

So she and Cannibal start trading witless repartee, and it’s established that people who mentally fight him might end up being hospitalized. Anita tries to one-up him by announcing that without her shields she’ll be like a giant Statue of Liberty that alerts all the undead in the area that a tiny, shrewish klutz with penis envy is in Las Vegas.

“Okay, how do we do this?”
“Sitting down,” he said.
“In case one of us falls down,” I said.
“Something like that.”

This is sounding more and more like one of her overnegotiated, talk-filled sex scenes. Except this time it’s all psychic stuff, which actually makes it even more boring.

“You really do believe you’re the strongest psychic in this room, don’t you?” I asked.

Haha! It is to laugh! Doesn’t he know that Anita is the best at everything — and that if she isn’t yet, she will magically level up in this story?

So they sit down opposite each other, and Anita demands that he fuck her while she’s tight. Wait, no, that’s one of those awful sex scenes. Instead she starts feeling Cannibal’s energy, which (of course) goes over her skin like every other supernatural thing in this series. Just once, I’d like someone to feel magical power in their coccyx.

“It works better if I can touch you,” he said.
I gave him a look.
He smiled. “So young to be so cynical.”

Well, in Anita’s world “touch” means a prelude to nude cuddling and supernatural orgies, so of course she’s gonna be suspicious that an EWWWWWWWW human wants to touch her.

Only then did I realize that touch makes all vampire powers worse, more, even if the vampire in question wears a uniform and has a heartbeat.

I suppose we’re supposed to boo and see Cannibal as being oh so sinister and mean because EEEEEEEK he’s a living vampire. Oh wait, that’s also what Anita is… except apparently we’re supposed to temporarily forget that. FAIL.

UP NEXT: Anita’s more powerful than YOOOOOOUUUUUU… again.


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