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Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperTorch Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 0060572965
Date: 27 April, 2004 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In Dead Witch Walking, Rachel Morgan, an Inderland Security (IS) runner, has been put on the lowliest jobs since her slight accident involving a frog eating a fairy on a previous job. She hates her boss and wishes she could quit but can?t afford to buy off her contract. On the run that starts out the book, one to catch a leprechaun for creating an unauthorized rainbow, Rachel is paired with Jenks (a pixie who is getting hazardous duty pay just to go out with her). While scoping out a bar, she meets up with her former partner, Ivy (a living vampire). They decide to quit IS the next day and start their own business. Rachel manages to get fired or quit, depending on your point of view and her boss feels well rid of her. Ivy buys off her contract and has already rented space for their office. IS decides they can?t touch Ivy but they need to make an example of someone, so a contract is put out on Rachel. Everyone considers her already dead even though she?s still walking around because IS never misses their target.

Rachel has a lot to learn about partnering with a living vampire and a pixie. She keeps setting off Ivy?s predator senses and scaring herself with the results; Ivy in full vamp mode. She?s determined to bring down the largest dealer in Brimstone (a supernatural drug) and to survive the IS death contract. Throughout the book as the story unfolds you learn more of the background of this universe - how a virus killed most of the humans off and then with the numbers more in balance the witches, vampires, weres, and such came out of hiding to live alongside the humans. There?s still a lot of tension between the groups and it?s in the unsettled area between humans and the fey that will give our main characters a place to use their skills and solve crimes and problems not dealt with by the more standard law enforcement agencies. It?s also here that we, the readers, find most of our preconceived notions of otherworldly beings knocked askew.

Dead Witch Walking is a great debut novel. Harrison has an interesting take on what would happen if magic and witchcraft and other things that bump in the night really existed. While I hope that her main character will catch a clue before too long and learn to deal with her partners openly, it doesn?t detract from the story. I for one look forward to her next novel and recommend this one.

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