Rachel Morgan is a sexy, tough-as-nails private-eye --
("Wait, wait, wait. Didn't you just review this book?"
"No. You must be thinking of Greywalker."
"What's the diff?"
"That was about Harper Blaine, a dark haired greywalker who fights crime. This is about Rachel Morgan, a red-headed witch who--"
"Red-headed witch? You haven't even started the review and I don't see how this can get much worse."
"It does. I have two words for you -- 'Mary Sue.'"
"Well, I don't know for sure that Rachel Morgan and Kim Harrison have the same personality. But the photo on Wikipedia shows Harrison as a red-head. And Rachel inspires an amazing amount of loyalty from her colleagues despite the fact that she's bumbling, incompetent, and quite possibly mentally disabled."
"Care to expand on that last part?"
"There's this one scene -- actually it's several chapters long -- where she turns herself into a mink --"
"A sexy mink."
"Ahem. Yes. A sexy mink. To sneak into the villain's headquarters. She gets caught quite easily and put in a hamster cage. The whole time she's held prisoner, she keeps shouting at her captor any time he does something insidious."
"So she retains the ability to talk despite being a mink?"
"No, that's just it. She knows no one will understand her."
"Are you sure she wasn't just talking to herself?"
"No, her comments aren't asides -- they're attempts to communicate, as though she expects people to respond."
"Well, she is a mink. You can't expect human-level intelligence."
"Nope, she retains human-level intelligence when in rodent form. Although 'human-level' is giving her a bit too much credit. She's constantly walking into traps when everyone around her is shouting, 'Don't do it! It's a trap!'"
"So the other characters are better?"
"More intelligent, but annoying in their own ways. There's Jenks the pixie who spends all his time either complaining or prying into people's personal lives. And Ivy the vampire, who has some creepy sado-sapphic attraction to Rachel, whom she blames for enticing her. Oh, and there's Keasley, the kindly old next door neighbor who offers them sage advice throughout the book."
"What, like Wilson in Home Improvement?"
"Yeah, apart from race he's exactly like Wilson."
"Apart from ... dear lord, you don't mean he's a magical negro?"
"Well, he's magical and black, but there's no need to use that kind of language."
"No, no, 'magical negro' is a term Spike Lee coined to describe characters like Bagger Vance and Mother Abigail -- kindly, seemingly mystical blacks whose entire raison d'etre seems to be to offer wise words to white people."
"Then yeah, he's a magical negro."
"This really does sound dire. Is there at least a compelling plot?"
"Not really. Rachel, Ivy and Jenks are officers in a magical police force until one day they decide to go into business as P.I.s. Ivy has enough money to buy her way out of her contract, and pixies are freelancers, so they're free to leave. But Rachel breaks her contract against her boss's will, so the cops send hitmen after her."
"So they kill anyone who quits the magic police? I thought this was urban-fantasy set in a world similar to our own?"
"It is, but it's alt-history in a world that's undergone a major plague. See, in this timeline Crick and Watson have a female partner who makes a major breakthrough in DNA that shifts the focus from physics to biology. Genetic engineering takes off instead of things like rocketry."
"Ah, so the geneticists unlock the genes that allow humans to do magic?"
"Oh no. Witches, vampires, and whatnot have been living in secret among humanity since the beginning of history. They just made their presence known after a gengineered plague wiped out the majority of humanity."
"Okay, let me see if I have this straight -- the book is an alt-history that uses a science fictional point of departure to establish a fantasy world -- which is in fact a secret history?"
"That's a bit convoluted, don't you think?"
"Just a tad."
"There's no way this book can be as bad as it sounds."
"It's not bad, really. Kinda silly and too soft-boiled for my taste, but if you need something to read on a plane-flight, it'll do."
"So that's you're review."
"Yeah. This isn't a book worth spending more than a couple paragraphs on.")