Kat Richardson

Books: Fantasy | Mystery

Harper Blaine: Greywalker (2006), Poltergeist (2007), Underground (2008), Vanished (2009)


Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008), Mean Streets (2009)

Harper Blaine

Greywalker (2006)

Greywalker starts off strong–Harper Blaine gets beaten to death–although she is dead only for a few minutes.

I'd been surprised when the guy belted me. Most people don't flip out when they get caught in such a small fraud. I had expected am embarrassed apology and a hasty check to appease my client--his stepdaughter. But instead, the guy leaned over his desk and smacked a sledgehammer fist into the side of my head.

When Harper awakens, her very world is changed and a supernatural world she never knew existed now fills her sight.

I also liked the way that just as Harper does not understand what is happening around her, so we too are unclear as to precisely what the Grey is. It was confusing, but that seems to match the confusion that Harper feels.

There were a few things that I found difficult however--I was unsure of the time span of the first chapter. I also was surprised by the fact that although Harper repeatedly resisted the fact that she was a Greywalker, she seemed to have no problems accepting the existence of vampires.

Overall, I found the story strong enough that I read it all in one sitting. Of course all I planned for the afternoon was reading, but I had several other books lined up if this one didn't draw me in immediately. Which it did. I also liked that the characters were well done, and had distinct personalities. I particularly liked the people she discovers as she talks to the vampires. Gwen in particular was quite vivid.

I also found the PI portion well done. She does lots of boring work and paper pushing and phone calls. Although we don't spend time with the details of those mundane tasks, she talks of doing them, and chunks of time are spent doing them. Not enough to be boring, but enough to let you know that parts of her job could be boring. Although by the end of the book you're sure that Harper is probably desperate for some boredom.

Although the story arc was concluded satisfactorily, there were many questions left unanswered--plenty of material for a continuing series. And I'm a fan of supernatural mysteries, so that's a good thing. I would have liked to have had more of my questions answered, and I'm not a big fan of the "Schrodinger's villain" where you're not sure whether the bad guy is dead or alive. Bah humbug. But the story arc was concluded, and I don't feel as though I was left hanging. So it was alright.

If you're a fan of supernatural fantasy, then you'll most likely enjoy Greywalker.

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 7/10

Poltergeist (2007)

I enjoyed Greywalker enough that I pre-ordered Poltergeist when I came across it.

This was a decision I did not regret. I liked Poltergeist even better than I liked Greywalker. Harper Blaine is still coming to terms with her ability to see and move into the Grey, the paranormal realm populated by ghosts and other supernatural beings.

Harper has been hired by a psychologist interested in studying parapsychology and who is attempting to recreate the Phillip Experiments in which a group of subjects created a ghost by giving it a backstory and history. Unfortunately for the researcher, the experiment seems to be spiraling out of his control, and he has hired Harper to look for a saboteur.

This story was fascinating on many different levels. They mystery was very interesting, and kept me guessing. The characters were also well done and realistic–especially the bad guys, who were complex and had reasonable motivations for their actions. Although I have to admit a fondness for Quinton. He's a true geek without falling into that unpleasant trope that fictional geeks sometimes fall into. In fact he reminded me more of some of the characters in Cryptonomicon than most of the other geeks I run into in fiction. But what I liked best were the theories that were expounded upon to explain effects in and upon the Grey, that would make sense in explaining some of the folklore that surrounds some supernatural creatures, even though this was not the focus of the discussion. The discussion about glass, mirrors and the supernatural got me thinking about folklore surrounding different supernatural creatures. I also enjoyed the way that Kat Richardson wove real history and science into her fantasy, such as the Phillip Experiment and the history of the area in which Kat lives. I really like it when an author is willing to work to create an urban fantasy world–that is strongly based upon our reality and history. And of I love the fact that Kat Richardson is a strong woman who can take care of herself, but is learning again to lean upon others.

If you have any interest at all in supernatural fantasy, then I strongly recommend Poltergeist. Of course I recommend reading Greywalker first, as it will give you Harper's backstory and explain who all these different characters are, but you could most likely read Poltergeist without that. You'll just like it better having read the previous book is all.

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 8/10

Underground (2008)

I have got to start paying better attention when I pre-order books.

I now have two copies of Underground. (sigh)

Harper Blaine is a private investigator who was beaten to death several years previously. She was only dead for a few minutes, but she woke up a changed woman, and able to see ghosts and other spirits that remain unseen to most people. She has slowly been learning how to use her sight, as well as the ability to manipulate the grey, but this has not been an easy journey for her, as seeing what others can't does not make it easy for her to interact with others; moving to avoid a ghost or being yelled at by a spirit can cause reactions that other may take in the wrong way.

Underground begins with Harper still in physical therapy, in a disintegration relationship with Will, and a call from Quinton. Someone or something has been killing the homeless who live in Seattle's Underground, and Quinton thinks Harper can help him track down the killer.

I really liked the exploration of Seattle's Underground. Even though what Harper explores doesn't truly exist, the fact that something very like the Underground exists completely fascinates me. I've read other stories by other authors that contained underground streets beneath the city, but for some reason I just assumed this was part of the fantasy element.

Apparently not.

As for the mystery, it was interesting, though not nearly as fascinating as the underground city of Seattle. I still like Harper, and enjoyed discovering more about Quinton, but the mystery seemed a little weaker than the previous two books.

If you have not read the previous books in Kat Richardson's Greywalker series, you should be able to enjoy Underground without the background of the previous books.

Not that this is going to stop me from pre-ordering the next book in paperback. I just hope I only order it once.

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 7/10

Vanished (2009)

I finished Vanished last night with a sense of dissatisfaction, but it wasn't until this morning that I was able to put my finger on what bothered me most.

When I started reading the Greywalker series, I loved the fact they were mysteries with a paranormal element. Harper is a private detective–and was before her death–and she kept on being a detective after she became a Greywalker; it was just an added dimension to her character.

But things started slowly to change. Now, Harper is not just a Greywalker, but a "special" Greywalker.


Can't we have a fantasy heroine who isn't all sooper special?

The mystery also wandered all over the place: we start with Harper trying to learn more about her father, then move to vampire politics, then shift to Harper having "special" Greywalker skills. The thread with her father, for as much time we spent on it, was completely unresolved, asking questions but answering few.

The vampire thread was partially, but not completely resolved, and Harper's special powers were not resolved in any way. So instead of closing the book with a sense of having a mystery resolved, it ended with more questions.

All in all, very disappointing, as the start of this series had such potential.

Published by ROC

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 5/10


Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008) edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner


Mean Streets (2009) Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Thomas E. Sniegoski

OK. I admit it. I'm an Amazon junkie. I often search for my favorite artists and look at coming releases to see if anyone I love has something new coming out. Which is how I stumbled upon Mean Streets. I believe it is possible I looked at the authors involved an actually squealed. But can you blame me? Kat Richardson, Simon R. Green, and Jim Butcher. All in one book? Have I died and gone to supernatural fantasy reader heaven?

And what makes pre-ordering even better, is that I get the joy of ordering the book, and then some point months later the book magically appears on my doorstep after I've forgotten about it.

How could you ask for anything more?

Kat Richardson's story "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" was third, and one I was very much looking forward to. I am really enjoying her Greywalker series and am waiting impatiently for the third Harper Blaine book to come out in paperback, so this was a lovely treat.

Harper is given a case that seemingly requires only that she take a clay artifact back to Mexico and lay it on a specific grave on the Day of the Dead. But with Harper's talents, we know–as does she–that nothing is that easy.

Although I enjoyed the third story, I found the story somewhat confusing in the middle. We were given a bunch of information and not much in the way of an explanation. Although the explanation did come later, there were multiple passages I had to re-read so I could figure out what was going on.

This didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of the story, but it made this for me a weaker story than it could have been. However, I really liked the resolution of the story, so things evened out in the end.

Also, I love how stories in an anthology can have longer more complex titles. I mean, "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" is really an awesome title that would work far less well as a book title.

So this was an excellent anthology, and I believe it would be a good introduction to any of these authors or characters.

Rating: 9/10