I'd never read Kim Harrison before. I picked the book because Margaurite Gavin is the narrator and I normally enjoy what she reads.
By the end of "Dead Witch Walking" I was convinced that Kim Harrison had created the basis for a strong Urban Fantasy series.
Her imagining of an alternative earth where a bioengineered disease has accidentally wiped out enough of the human population to bring the weres, vampires, fairies, pixies and witches out of the closet is rich and original.
She has assembled a strong ensemble cast in an iconic location and taken them through trial by combat.
There are secrets and mysteries, murky motives, undisclosed back-stories and shifting agendas enough to feed a dozen books and enough acts of heroism and loyalty to give everyone something to win/lose/feel guilty about. The action scenes are clear and exiting. The vampire/witch dynamic has an instinct-driven frisson to it that remains unresolved.
Only two things marred the book for me: I didn't much like the main character, Rachel Morgan, at the beginning. She was meant to be a tough, wise-cracking, kick-ass-but-honourable witch with a past but, in the first few chapters, she came across as whiney, self-pitying and mistrustful of the people trying to help her; I also began to feel that Morgan's head-long rush into any situation wasn't a character flaw but an attempt to disguise a weak plot.
Still, I'll be back for more. I think this is one of those series that will get better as it goes along.