Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Good, The Bad, And The Undead

By Kim Harrison

On a cover blurb, Jim Butcher likens The Good, The Bad and the Undead to a mixture of Laurell K. Hamilton and Janet Evanovich. I disagree. If anything, this novel and its predecessor are similar in tone to Butcher's Harry Dresden series. While amusing at times, the novel lacks the zany laugh-out-loud moments of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie Plum and Rachel Morgan are both bounty hunters: end of resemblance. Unlike Hamilton's protagonists, Rachel is compassionate and accessible, no swaggering I'm-so-sexy-moments required.

The novel has a unique premise. Thanks to a bio-engineered tomato virus, a large chunk of the world's human population has been killed off. The majority of the survivors are non-humans--witches, vampires, pixies, weres, etc.--who had been living among humans all along. Probably because the Interlanders, as non-humans are called, were instrumental in helping keep civilization afloat after the attack of the killer tomatoes, humans and Interlanders now live in an uneasy peace.

Rachel, who quit her job as a runner (bounty hunter) with Interlander Security (paranormal law enforcement) in the previous book, is still trying to make a living as an independent runner. She continues to live with Ivy, the "living" vampire. Jenks the pixie and his large brood of children continue to provide the majority of the laughs. In this installment, Rachel is hired on by human law enforcement to help investigate the murders of ley line witches. She soon finds that the clues point to her old nemesis, Trent Kalamack, drug lord and all around mystery guy.

Despite the great ingredients, I found the novel somewhat weak. Biggest issue? It seems to scream for some editing. Not just copyediting--although typos abound--but for the contextual stuff. Inconsistent characterization, illogical flow in the prose, scattered plotting, awkward sentences, etc. The problems didn't seem as pronounced in the latter half of the novel. Either I got used to all the weirdness, or the author found her stride.

The books biggest failing is the relationship between Rachel and Ivy. Ivy, it seems wants Rachel to be her scion, which is a fancy way of saying Renfield. There is also a suggestion that Ivy's attractions go beyond having a walking blood bank. Rachel insists that Ivy is her friend and that she owes it to her to be patient. This despite the fact that Ivy scares the crap out of her and there really isn't much to their friendship. Their interactions, mildly tiresome in the first book, drag on and on in this book. The story wants for more Trent Kalamack (bad boy, yum) and much less Ivy.

My own relationship with this series is just as rocky. I want to like these books. There is fun within the pages. But it feels like it when to print a little too early. Nevertheless, I keep coming back.

My recommendation. Get Dead Witch Walking from the library. If it wows you, buy your own copy and as well as The Good, The Bad and the Undead. For now, I'm sticking with library copies.

P.K.

 

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