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16 August 2008 @ 12:22 pm
Dead Witch Walking  
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison is set in an alternative universe in which a genetically engineered tomato wiped out most of humanity in the 1960s. Most of humanity that is except for the witches, vampires, pixies, werewolves and you name it who now make up approximately 50% of the population. Rachel Morgan works for Inderland Security which is basically a paranormal version of the FBI. Following a series of disastrous missions she quits to set up on her own, however I.S's top agent elects to quit with her and, out of revenge, I.S. put a bounty on her head. Rachel needs to find powerful allies or solve a really high-profile case in order to buy off that contract.

As set ups go this one is a lot of fun, though not without a certain amount of unintentional hilarity. All humans, it would appear, have developed tomato-phobia and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has a tendency to spring to mind whenever an "Oh no! it's a tomato" moment occurs. The characters are a lot of fun too though Rachel doesn't quite convince as a competent witch detective. It must be said my heart sank in the opening chapter where she sits in a bar and muses on her run of messed up missions - "It's clearly because you're useless!" I thought. It later transpires that her missions are being deliberately sabotaged by her boss who wants to get rid of her (for reasons that are never explained). But even leaving that aside, Rachel does stupid things ever so slightly too often for my liking. However Jenks, her incredibly sexy and deeply irritating pixie side-kick, is great. Scrap the witch, I say, let's have the adventures of Jenks, his wife Matalina and his forty children in their territorial battles to keep the evil fairies out of the garden.

I'd be heartily recommending this book, I think, if it didn't have it's eyes quite so firmly set on a sequel. Chapters 25 to 28, as far as I can tell, are entirely devoted to setting up an intriguing loose end to be resolved in an unspecified later book. I don't mind too much the mysterious hints about Rachel's father or the motivations of her vampiric flat-mate Ivy, they work quite well as small points of set-up to pay-off later for dedicated readers. But four whole chapters of set up which are largely irrelevant to the story would seem to be taking matters too far. The book lost a lot of good will at that point.

In short this is a fun book, with a great set-up and several good characters. I'd have bought the next in the series already if the book wasn't angling quite so desperately to make me do so.
fredbassettfredbassett on August 16th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
The rest of the books in the series are definitely worth reading. I've enjoyed all of them and Jenks and his family continue to be great fun. The tomato bit always amused me as well.
bunnbunn on August 16th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
This sounds promising, I might give it a go.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on August 17th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
Having thought about things a little more I'd say Rachel doesn't do anything particularly stupid (though she can be scarily impulsive) but she does seem woefully ill-informed about, for instance, Vampire, Pixies and Demons which is a little odd for someone who's job involves apprehending paranormal law-breakers. I guess its partly a device to convey information to the reader in an interesting way but it does make her look a little dumb and rather self-centred at times.

I'm still dithering about buying the next one. I can imagine lots of the niggles I had with this could get ironed out as the series progresses.
iriswildthyme on August 18th, 2008 09:00 am (UTC)
Sounds interesting - that'll be another blog recommendation which I have to stick in my amazon shopping basket...