Kim Harrison,
The Good, the Bad & the Undead
(HarperTorch, 2005)

Rachel Morgan is dead sure who's behind the recent spate of serial witch killings, and she's willing to do pretty much anything to ensure the guy ends up behind bars, even if it means throwing in with local law enforcement to do so.

But, um, maybe she's wrong, after all.

The Good, the Bad & the Undead is Rachel's second adventure in Cincinatti in the years following the plague that forced the supernatural races -- vampires, pixies, werewolves and the like -- into the open. Rachel is a witch and bounty hunter, living with a vampire and partnered with a pixie in a well-appointed church, and she's willing to take quite a large number of risks in both her professional and personal lives. And if her own life wasn't hazardous enough, she has a human boyfriend addicted to summoning demons.

I can't help but think author Kim Harrison overplays the vampire allure card a little -- it seems to be Rachel's greatest weakness, and therefore the very thing she's forced to confront daily, sometimes twice before breakfast and again at lunch. Much of the tension lies between Rachel and her roommate, Ivy, who really wants to initiate some heavy biting action. Harrison makes a great deal of the friendship that binds Rachel and Ivy, but all we really see is the blood lust and fear; perhaps the issue will be explored a little more fully later.

But that one flaw aside, The Good, the Bad & the Undead is a good, intense book in a series I'm enjoying to the hilt. Slow at times, the book is still building a world with a fascinating societal makeup and conflicting rules of magic.

Besides, you have to love a book that bases an entire cultural nightmare on tomatoes.

You'll find plenty of comparisons out there between Harrison's Rachel Morgan and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake. Sex addict and Nike fanatic Blake, it seems, is a peak to aspire toward. For my money, Harrison needed only two books to prove herself the superior writer.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

28 April 2007

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