Review: Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway

Posted August 7, 2012 by Nima in 4 stars, Rating A, Urban Fantasy Tags: , ,

Precinct 13

Author: Tate Hallaway 
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
ISBN: # 978-0425247792
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Recent college grad Alex Conner is thrilled to have landed a job as the Hughes County coroner/medical examiner in Pierre, South Dakota. But when her first day on the job ends with a missing corpse, Alex starts to wonder if she would have been better off collecting unemployment…
When the cops made some cryptic comments about being careful with the body they brought in, Alex just thought the boys in blue were messing with her. That is, until something freaky happens that no amount of med school could have prepared her for. By the time Alex gets herself together, the body has disappeared and the other residents of the morgue start talking her ear off.
After working up the courage to report the missing body, Alex is transferred to the mysterious Precinct 13 where she discovers that her new co-workers—including a cute technomage named Jack—are paranormals just like her. Now, Alex is being encouraged to use her ability to speak to the dead to solve crimes. And despite being in the middle of nowhere, Hughes County sure does have a lot of paranormal activity…
What Nimas talking about:
Precinct 13 came to me categorized as paranormal romance.  While it does have some romantic elements, that is definitely not the focus of the book. There are no explicit love scenes and even those are few in number.  I would say it reads more like urban fantasy. In my opinion, the story starts out a little too light for the story that follows.  We are introduced to Alex Conner who has an undergraduate degree in forensic science and some medical school.  She has not completed medical school for reasons not delineated until later in the book.  Over too many beers and whining about being unemployed, her buddy makes a $20 bet with her to run for county coroner of a rural corner in South Dakota. Virtually unopposed, she wins.
Despite the clumsy way in which Alex reaches Pierre, South Dakota, the story that follows is a promising beginning to what will most likely be a series.  There seems to be an unusual amount of paranormal activity in Hughes County and Alex is now seated squarely in the thick of it.  The potential is there for any number of stories and books to follow.
I enjoyed the premise, what would a police force look and sound like if they all had some kind of supernatural talent—a mage who specializes in technology, witches, familiars, vampires, bag ladies who are not what they appear, even rumors of dragons? Alex herself can speak to the dead; an interesting if useful trait in a coroner trying to solve a murder.
There isn’t a lot of humor in this book, but Alex doesn’t take herself too seriously either.  With a slightly sarcastic eye out for all that is clearly ridiculous about whom she is and what’s going on under the noses of the “ordinarium” community we get quotes like this:

…I figured it was still my duty to inform him [the police chief] that there was a corpse wandering around town.  In case, I don’t know, they needed to put out an APB for a gutted guy carrying his liver.

Hallaway’s website bio discloses that she is a witch, though not part of any coven, she just believes in magic.  I think it is, perhaps, revealing when the character Jack explains about the ordinarium, 

“All children…can see magic.  This is one of the reasons we love fairy tales when we’re little.  We recognize the truth in them…. Teenage hormones change everything….  Ordinarium like to call it ‘growing up.’ But it’s really growing out of magic.”

Because Alex is just learning about her paranormal skills and finding her niche in Precinct 13, we get the benefit of learning along with her.  For all her stumbling however, the action doesn’t slow down, right through to an explosive ending.  Hallaway is creative in a market which is unfortunately full of too many mediocre paranormal books.  I like these characters enough, especially Valentine, to definitely come back to Pierre, South Dakota if Hallaway chooses to make this a series.  She’s certainly set it up that way, but does it without leaving you feeling like you’re missing anything at the conclusion of Precinct 13.  There are no annoying cliff-hangers and that alone is a huge recommendation in my mind.
Nimas Rating:
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

Purchase Info:

2 responses to “Review: Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway

  1. Na

    I’m adding this to my TBR. It sounds like a great story and I like that it doesn’t have a cliffhanger. I don’t mind them but lately I’ve been coming across too many.

  2. Thanks for the great review! This book really caught my interest, but I’m cheap and I don’t like buying Trade for a new to me author and I have a rule not to buy over $5 for Kindle (otherwise, I might as well buy print). I’ve been noticing that more and more debut authors are in Trade now… grrrr…