Don’t Kill the Messenger by Eileen Rendahl
Don’t Kill The Messenger (A Messenger Novel 1)
We don’t often get a fantasy novel set in the Sacramento area. Los Angeles is popular, as are New York and Chicago. San Francisco gets a few nods, and a small but determined group of authors is making the Pacific Northwest the “in” place.
But local author Eileen Rendahl takes us through some very familiar streets in Don’t Kill the Messenger.
Melina Markowitz is the supernatural set’s “gofer,” shuttling message and packages between beings who politely could be called monsters. One day she’s given an envelope to deliver, but it’s promptly stolen by ninjas. Since the message is her responsibility, she must find and retrieve it.
The trail leads to Old Sacramento and a Taoist temple, as well as to the Chinese vampires emerging from beneath it. Oddly enough, their target seems to be gang members … but why? And when attractive cop Ted Goodnight takes on the case, the result may be more than a simple messenger can handle.
It’s great to read a novel set on familiar ground. Local readers will get pulled into the book simply because it takes place in a location that we can identify so easily. That said, Rendahl sometimes succumbs to the temptation to detail every street – and every turn – as the characters moves about. In her zeal to share the familiar with us local folks, she bogs things down every now and then.
While Chinese myth has been explored before – mostly in terms of dragons and other mythical creatures – this is the first fantasy novel I’ve encountered that uses the “hopping vampires” so peculiar to Chinese folklore. Readers may be unfamiliar with this legend, and the author provides just enough details to keep us informed, without slowing down the story.
Don’t Kill the Messenger may just put Sacramento on the map, as a “new” place to set fantasy novels. It’s a fast-paced story with unique elements that make it stand out from the crowd.
Also by this author: Dead Letter Day, Dead on Delivery
This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on June 17, 2010.