Fiction Reviews

Dead Witch Walking

(2006 UK edition) Kim Harrison, Harper Voyager, 6.99, pbk, 416pp, ISBN 0-00-723609-3

This is the first British outing for this novel first published in the US in 2004 and which gave rise to three more; they are (I think this is the correct order) The Good, the Bad and the Undead, Every Which Way But Dead and A Fistful of Charms (see the bottom of the review for links). The actual titles of these books have probably already told you whether you are going to bother or not, but let's soldier on... It is an alternate present/near future where forty years ago a genetically engineered virus has wiped out half of humanity and, in the wake of which, all the supernatural creatures that have been living alongside us from the year dot suddenly come out to play. Naturally a new type of police service is necessary to deal with supernatural crime and criminals; they are the Inderland Runner Services. Rachel Morgan is a witch working for them in Cincinnati and one day she decides to quit and go into business herself, but this brings about a "marked for death" status (for no discernable reason). Rachel is joined by a vampire and a pixy and they set up in an old church in the bad part of town. She hopes that if she can bring to justice a druglord the death mark will be dropped, etc etc.

I'm sure you get it. I'm sure it sounds all too familiar. I seem to remember that it was not that long ago, in some series or other, that it was a human PI with a vampire sidekick in a world where... Whatever. This is another attempt to blend the worlds of horror fiction and noir-ish private eye/crime fiction. As a lover of both I have to say it is amazing how often and consistantly disappointing I find such attempts. I am sure it probably can be done well, it is just that I have yet to actually witness it. This book sure is not the one. It is not particularly badly written, but neither is it well-written; the characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the plot is as thin as rice paper. If I wanted to be really petty, I would also ask why the books' covers feature a model who looks nothing like either of the lead female characters described but, frankly, I don't care. If you are looking for a beach-reader, then this probably qualifies; it is harmless enough and will not trouble you to switch your brain on. But if you need your horror or crime thrills to be a bit more substantive, you are not going to find much to satisfy you here.

Tony Chester

For a different take on this series see Sue's review of The Good The Bad, and the Undead, A Fistful of Charms and Every Which Way But Dead.

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