Title: Dead Witch Walking
Author: Kim Harrison
Length: 419 pages
Genre: fantasy/horror/chick lit
Banter Points: Easy mindless reading. Even Word Nerds like that sometimes.
Bummer Points: Can we say, "conventions?" Harrison's twists on the classic fantasy/horror conventions are bent a little too far. I'm guessing it's hard to be a writer wanting to break into the witty-heroine first-person fiction market. There are plenty of other characters already out there: Anita Blake, Stephanie Plum, Kay Scarpetta, etc. that have books that collectively sold a bizillion copies. In her quest to be original with the world her character inhabits, she pushes things almost too far out of comfortable bounds for readers who are familiar with the genre.
Harrison enters this market with Rachel Morgan, a witch. In Rachel's world of Cincinnati, Ohio, and northern Kentucky, humans and Inderlanders (the name given to lump all witches, fairies, pixies, and vampires together) are about equal in population. In the backstory, humans suffered big population loss because of a virus carried in tomatoes. Rachel works as a runner for the I.S., the Inderlander version of the FBI or CIA. Things go south with that job, and she and fellow runner Ivy Tamwood (a living vampire, because it's a virus that causes that too) and pixy Jenks all quit, much to the chagrin of the I.S. Rachel spends most of the book running for her life from IS assassins.
Rachel Morgan just doesn't have enough sine qua non to separate her from the other heroines out there.
Word Nerd recommendation: Word Nerd may pick up the next book in the series, or not. Harrison's series will likely take a placeholder spot on the "read this when you can't find anything list."