2006’s Kitty Goes to Washington is the second volume in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.
DJ Kitty Norville receives a subpoena to appear in front of the American senate. The government has taken note of the supernatural. Lucky Kitty wins a starring role in the hearings to come. She is, after all, the best-known werewolf in America.
One benefit of her trip to Washington, D.C. is the chance to network with others of the supernatural kind. This is something Kitty has not done since she was ejected from her abusive pack in the first book of the series. She may be a little apprehensive, but she has no time to fret. No sooner does she arrive in Washington than she is intercepted and escorted to the home of Alette, the vampire Mistress of Washington. It’s the first of many new connections.
The hearings themselves are something of a bummer, thanks to Senator Joseph Duke. Duke is a fire-breathing reactionary who is certain that “supernatural “is just another word for “working for Satan, knowingly or otherwise.” Duke sees the hearings as vindication. He has been insisting for years that demons and their ilk are real. Lo and behold, here is an ilk!
Kitty can thank Dr. Paul Flemming, head of the Flemming Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology, for her invitation. Determined to preserve his funding, Flemming has taken the existence of supernatural beings public. Whether the American government ultimately decides people like Kitty are resources to be weaponized or simply threats to be exterminated, by establishing himself as the expert on the matter Flemming has positioned himself to benefit from either outcome.
The plot thickens with the entrance of the mysterious Reverend Smith. He promises salvation to werewolves and vampires alike. What sort of salvation is not clear, as Smith is ostentatiously nondenominational. He’s well-connected in Washington and it soon becomes clear that he will be a problem for Kitty.
This book was written in a bygone age, an age with no Facebook and no Twitter, but with a functional American government. Imagine that.
I first read it in that bygone age. Upon rereading, I found I had forgotten much. How abruptly the Smith plot line is resolved. How other antagonists prioritize improvisation over follow-through. Or how they fail to guess what the public reaction will be once their zany schemes are revealed.
What I had remembered for twelve years, something that I liked then and appreciate even more now, is that Kitty (unlike most urban fantasy protagonists) does not jettison morality and Enlightenment values as soon as she becomes a werewolf. In one memorable scene, her reaction to kidnapping and imprisonment is NOT to unleash the wolf and tear her enemies limb from limb. It’s to get a message to her lawyer.
And Ben, if you’re watching? Just one word: lawsuit. No, make that two words: multiple lawsuits.
Trying to operate within the legal system rather than opting for vigilante justice1 is a modus operandi not all that popular in the urban fantasy genre. It was enough to ensure I followed this series.
1: IMHO, this book would have been even better if Kitty weren’t pals with Cormac, a werewolf and vampire hunter. Or, given that werewolves and vampires are people, a racist serial killer.