Since I'm all caught up on The Dresden Files, and finished Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series (loved!), I was in need of another urban fantasy series that wouldn't end up derailing (I've heard all about Anita Blake's drop in quality). I feel like I've been seeing this series a lot lately, and Malin assured me they were worth the time.
I really liked this novel as the first of the series, though I will say that the tone in the first few chapters is a bit off compared to the rest of the novel. One quote on the cover compared it to a mix of Dresden and Stephanie Plum, but I only really got Plum out of it in those first chapters. Once we get further into the novel, Rachel Morgan starts appearing as a relatively competent detective/enforcer/witch rather than the super ditzy and clueless person that she appears to be during her first mission in the bar. I'm not sure if she or the publisher wanted her to keep it very light in the beginning to draw in an audience, but I definitely enjoyed it more as the novel started diving into the details of Harrison's world.
The novel takes place in an alternative timeline Ohio, where a virus wiped out a good percentage of the human population in the middle of the 20th century. Once supernatural and human numbers were about even, the supernaturals decided to reveal their presence, and they've been living together somewhat uneasily ever since. There are law agencies run by both sides to monitor activity, and Rachel decides at the beginning to quit her job at the supernatural law enforcement agency. Of course this is more complicated than it sounds because it leads to her boss taking out a contract on her.
The rest of the novel deals with Rachel establishing her new life, and trying to find out a way to get the agency off her back. Her initial plan is to do something so significant they'll have no choice but cancel the contract, and as a result she ends up pursuing the mayor, a mysterious, powerful man that seems to dabble in something dark but no one knows exactly what. While reading I got the feeling this was going to be one of those long running villains who sometimes helps and sometimes hinders Rachel in the series. I could be wrong, but for Dresden fans, I got a bit of Marcone vibe with more attraction.
The novel also introduces Rachel's partners, a living non-practicing vampire and a pixie. I think it was due to the fact that that this novel starts establishing Rachel's community and support system in this novel that it reminded me more of Harry Dresden than Stephanie Plum (that and the fact that Rachel while impulsive actually shows some skills) - Dresden also is surrounded by rag-tag team of allies. Even though I'm making comparisons, she isn't derivative. I think most series end up with a collection of characters after a while. Harrison also sets up quite a few mysteries for later, especially regarding the pasts of some of these characters, so I'll definitely keep reading this to see how Harrison develops her world and her story.