Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Undead by Kim Harrison

The Good The Bad and the UndeadThe Good, The Bad, and The Undead by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #2)

Genre: UF

Publisher: Harper Voyager on January 25, 2005

Source: Bought
Rating StarRating StarRating Star

Rachel Morgan, sexy witch, independent bounty hunter, prowls the downtown Cincinnati for criminal creatures of the night. She can handle leather-clad vamps and a cunning demon or two. But a serial killer who feeds on the experts in the most dangerous kind of black magic is an ancient, implacable evil that threatens her very soul.

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There’s a lot to like about The Hollows series: an atmospheric setting, quippy dialogue, a wealth of supernatural creatures, and even a unique spin on vampires (shock, awe). But how are you supposed to enjoy an urban fantasy series when the protagonist is such a blockhead? That’s right folks, I’m saying it.

Hello everyone…my name is Danya, and I dislike beloved UF heroine Rachel Morgan.

The main plot of The Good, The Bad, and The Undead centers on catching the murderer terrorizing the ley line witches of Cincinnati – who better to assist the FIB (Federal Interland Bureau) in their investigation than Rachel Morgan, witch and private investigator? Well, based on the kerfuffle that goes down, probably anyone but her. Bull, meet china shop.

Shaky and circumstantial evidence leads Rachel to believe that Trent Kalamack is behind it all, but it’s pretty clear to the reader – and basically every character but Rachel – that he’s innocent of this particular crime. But Rachel is convinced that everyone else is blind to reality and makes a complete ass of herself in the process. Rachel’s fixation on bringing down politician/alleged bio-drug dealer/ murderer Trent is understandable. The guy did turn her into a mink and enter her into the rat fights, after all. But her vendetta hinders her ability to do her job and find the actual killer, endangering ley line witches in the process.

Now in fairness Rachel’s training is as a runner, the person who apprehends the criminals rather than tracking them down. But now that she’s freelancing, all of that investigative legwork has to be done herself. I sense that this will continue to be a stumbling block for Rachel throughout the series because while she’s got mad skills and power, she doesn’t have the sense that god gave a clam (bonus points if you know that reference). Case in point: Rachel goes into a crime scene half-cocked and blunders about, causing political messes and disrupting the chain of evidence to the point where she endangers the case. In what world could that be considered a workable plan of action?! Never has my review icon “Get A Clue” been more appropriate.

If I had to describe Rachel’s “investigative technique” I’d say that it’s something approaching a combination of embarrassing hysterics and hare-brained schemes. I get that she’s supposed to be “zany” and “spunky” but really I think she’s got tunnel vision. Rachel’s need for revenge and approval from her peers is so great that it precludes her realization that the situation with her roommate Ivy has become untenable. When your roomie tries to chow down on you not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES then girl, you’ve gotta hit the road. Before shit gets really weird. But of course, this wouldn’t be The Hollows if shit didn’t get weird.

Now despite my griping and ambivalence towards Rachel, I’m still enjoying The Hollows series and I will continue reading it, albeit slowly. There are some really interesting things going on, like the discovery of Trent’s heritage. Is he human? Interlander? Demon? Let me tell you, the reveal was awesome and has some serious implications for how things will play out between Rachel and Trent. Despite Rachel’s justified hatred of the man, I sense an uneasy alliance brewing between them; although ultimately it seems clear to me that they’re gonna have a fling. No one waxes poetic about their enemy’s butt that often when it’s strictly platonic. Or you know… at all.

Things I’m hoping for in the next book: that Rachel gets some sense knocked into her, that Ivy can control her bloodlust, and that we see the last of Nick. He’s the worst.

For you mega fans of The Hollows (I know you’re out there!), what do you think? Am I being too hard on Rachel?

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  • No you are being completely fair about Rachel. She is a block head in the first few, or many books. She continues to slowly……emphasis there….grow over the course of the series. Sometimes you just want to face punch her for her stupidity. But the series is so much fun!

    • I am SO GLAD to hear you say that! I was beginning to wonder if I just wasn’t “getting it” ya know? Yes I sense that her upward trajectory is gonna take some time. Guess she’s kinda like a real person in that way…

      Jenks makes it for me, hands down. Love that guy! And Trent isn’t too shabby either. 😉

  • I think that’s the problem with a lot of UF authors who want to write “mystery”, but unfortunately have no idea how to go about it so their protagonists always end up being bumbling idiots who stumble around blindly until they trip over the answers. So I guess the “LOL” button up there means “Funny” bad and not “Funny” good 😛

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    • Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of it like that but I think you’re onto something there! Personally I could do with a few less bumblers in my UF. Maybe someone will finally write about a UF protagonist who is just middle of the road and wins some loses some. Fingers crossed! Haha, yeah it kinda means both. There is a lot of humour in the series and that makes it salvageable in my mind (although Rachel’s antic are kinda funny bad).

  • I actually didn’t make it past book 1 of this series because I had many of the same issues you did with the heroine, plus I don’t particularly care of witches. I hope to one day give this series a second chance, but I’m not in any rush to do so.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    • It boggles my mind that you’re not a fan of witches, Carmel! They’re so AWESOME! Oh well, more for me. 😉 I have heard that it gets better over time – albeit slowly – so I’ll keep on keepin’ on.

  • NO, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG ABOUT RACHEL, HOW COULD YOU!!

    jk….I never read the book, but I would probably wanna #SlapAHo <–I'm making that a thing.

    • HAHA honestly that is the response I expect to get when this review goes on Goodreads…people are like sharks there sometimes, they smell blood in the water and then BANG feeding frenzy.

      I would try my hardest to make #SlapAHo trend worldwide.

  • LOL . . . Nick is the WORST. Lawd, I hate him. Not saying anything about anything though, except that I’m glad you aren’t quitting. And #SlapAHo should totally be a thing.

    • UGH I AGREE. I do not see his appeal at all…and he’s a LIBRARIAN. How could I not like him?! I’m listening to the audiobook for book 3 right now and I think it’s my favourite of the series so far. But I’ve got #SlapAHo in my back pocket in case I need to whip it out later 😉