There are times when a book that might have been otherwise been entertaining ticks me off. I will still read the book, but chances are I’m mostly reading to see how much more bad it can get. (It is the only reason I was able to read The Warriors of Spider and sequels all the way through.) This is more or less the case with Wraith, which managed to annoy me on several different occasions.
Our heroine is one Zoe Martinique a young woman who because of a trauma in her past is able to travel out of body. She makes a living doing industrial espionage in a uniquely ham-handed manner. She is aided by her friend Rhonda, who is a witch and her mother, who is psychic and runs a botanica that’s also a tea shop. (There are also two gay ghosts who apparently serve the purpose of being Sassy Gay Friends to Zoe, her mother and Rhonda.)
While working on a case she witnesses a murder, and it turns out the murderer is able to see and attack her. This drags Zoe into a strange situation involving entities from other planes of reality, an evangelist, and a Japanese business man. To make things even more complicated, she becomes involved with the police detective assigned to the case. (A police detective who is apparently not all suspicious by how much Zoe knows about the case he’s working on.)
The primary problem I had was Zoe’s complete bone-headed ineptness. If you’re going to have a urban fantasy heroine involved with investigation or “domestic surveillance” it would be nice if the character actually seemed competent instead of an inept amateur. (She isn’t very professional, and it is actually kind of annoying the way she drools over the male protagonist.) The second problem I had was some fairly annoying exoticism in regards to the Japanese businessman and those who worked for him. (Ninjas, stereotypical Japanese women in kimonos, inscrutable old wise men, and numerous other things I found to be slightly irritating.)
Overall, I was not very impressed by this book. There were some entertaining moments, but for the most part, they were few and far between. I was not really able to get into the book, or like any of the characters. On the other hand, it wasn’t bad enough that I had to stop reading it all together. (This only very rarely happens.) I probably would have found it more readable if Zoe had actually seemed to have a clue about what she was doing, and if the world building had been a little more coherent and understandable.
(Yes, I will be reading the sequels.)