I was most familiar with Katharine Kerr as the writer of the Deverry books. Not that I had read all of them but quite a few. So when I read, a number of months ago that she had a new book set in a contemporary setting coming out I was very excited and pre-ordered it from Amazon. It arrived last week and I read it almost in one sitting. San Francisco must be a natural setting for noir-type books.
Perhaps it's the fog. Not that I've been there (darn the luck) but like Seanan McGuire's books this one features a strong female protagonist with unusual abilities. In License to Enscorcoll magic or psychic abilities exist . . . not that most people realize it. Nola O'Grady works for an un-named government agency that employs licensed magic users to solve various magic-related crimes. She is more of a spy than a cop. She gets saddled with a non-agency operative named Ari Nathan (of Mossad) in an attempt to solve some sort of international (possible) serial murder case.
Nola, Ari, Nola's mysterious boss, Nola's gifted clan – excellent characters. I was very happy to discover that there is another book coming out in August. This may be another case of potato chip reading.
I came across an interesting column on the Tor website (http://www.tor.com) about "Urban Fantasy and the Elusive Male Protagonist". Apparently, Nola and Toby are actually typical of urban fantasy. I didn't notice possibly because having a female protagonist totally makes sense to me. I mean, I'm female and why shouldn't the protagonist in books of my favorite genre (fantasy) be female too. I suppose it flies in the face of what the general population think of the main audience for fantasy fiction. I can only think of this as a positive trend. (The Tor blog post does mention one of my favorite male urban fantasy protagonists – namely: Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files.