Monday, September 03, 2012

Precinct 13 - Tate Hallaway


Precinct 13
Tate Hallaway
Berkley

 
Urban Fantasy
 
Alex Connor never expected to become a coroner.  But, shortly after moving to Pierre, South Dakota, she and her roommate, Robert, discovered that the coroner is an elected office.  Her education qualified her for the job; her opponent’s public dishonesty pretty much guaranteed her the win.  Her job mostly consists of hanging on to bodies until relatives and/or mortuaries can collect them.  Then she gets her first murder victim.  Or suicide victim, the paramedics disagree about that.  After one of them gives her a cryptic warning, she starts on her first autopsy.  About halfway through, something inside the body bites her hand.  While she’s busy wigging out about the fact that a snake is sinking into her arm like a tattoo, the aforementioned body collects its liver from the scale and walks out of the place.  Not the best way to start a new job.
 
Alex most emphatically doesn’t believe in magic.  She’s spent years in therapy (some of it in an institution) and talking antipsychotic meds.  All because she was convinced that her stepmother was a demon.  Her boyfriend, Valentine, spent some time in prison for assault on the woman.  Moving to South Dakota was supposed to be a fresh start.  But, clearly, there are things happening that cannot be explained any other way.  Ready to be fired or re-committed, Alex explains the situation to the chief of police.  She’s shocked when he calmly refers her to Precinct 13, since they handle this type of thing.  Arriving at Precinct 13, Alex is confronted with every single thing she’s spent a lot of time and pain trying to forget; and a whole lot of things that she never imagined.

This is a standalone novel, but the ending makes it clear that it could become a series.  Alex is a character with a very original relationship with magic.  She resists believing for as long as possible, but finally has to admit that it just might be real.  Her struggle seems realistic.  What seems strange is that, while she doesn’t want to believe, she immediately begins questioning procedure and making suggestions.  She’s alternately completely ignorant about how magic works and an expert in how to handle things.  Not the best way to greet your new co-workers, in any environment. 

The supporting cast is a varied crew of human and not-quite-human investigators.  Each individual has his/her own special ability or area of expertise.  There’s obviously a lot of room to expand on all of them, should a series materialize.  The narrative moves along quickly, and covers a lot of ground.  The Big Bad has a Plan, and it’s a unique one, to be sure.  The climactic battle leaves a bit to be desired, but the author ties up a couple of loose ends, subplot-wise, in a very satisfying way.  If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, this one is a fun and fast read.

Rating: 7
August 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24779-2 (trade paperback)

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