Rachel Morgan is a young earth witch working with the Cincinnati division of the I.S., an agency that specializes in catching supernatural criminals. Still, the red-haired, temperamental witch is unhappy with her job: things haven't been going smoothly and her boss hates her. So she decides to leave the I.S. dragging with her Ivy, a 'living vampire' who was her former partner and Jenks (a male pixie), her current back-up. Trouble is... you don't leave the I.S.; it's a contract for life.
This novel is the first for author Kim Harrison and also the first in her 'Rachel Morgan' series (currently at five books). While it doesn't have a very complex plot (it's your standard story of the heroine running for her life), it sets the stage for future books as it introduces the major characters and the world they move in. Strangely, the central figure of the story, Rachel, is not the most developed character in this book. Ivy, the vampire roommate and Jenks, the pixy are much more complex and tri-dimensional.
The book starts out slow and is even boring for the first five or six chapters, but the pace picks up and it becomes interesting enough. The writing style contributes to this; you can see a positive evolution throughout the book.
In the end, this book is worth more as a prequel for the novels to come than for it's story. If it was a stand-alone, it wouldn't be very good, as it has no complex plot and the heroine is quite weak, as if the author merely sketched her instead of fully drawing her. Rachel Morgan comes to life in future books as does the story. Dead Witch Walking is certainly not meant to be read by itself.