underground by kat richardson

Posted on September 7, 2009


Third in the GreyWalker series starring your average PI turned paranormal investigator, Harper Blaine. This time, she’s hunting a Native American monster who’s been eating Pioneer Square’s homeless, and turning one or two into zombies.

UndergroundThe real is as intriguing as the make-believe. When they strike up a partnership, the result is phenomenal!

Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series is dear to me maybe for this reason primarily. Though I’ve never been in Seattle, I can imagine how I will orient my exploration on the landmarks and events introduced by the books if ever I visit. The author claims she tweaked the city’s history and geography a little to fit the story, creating a more fantastical Seattle than in truth. All the better. My visit then will be more of an adventure if I see the city through normal eyes, and eyes colored by different shades of Harper’s Grey.

In Underground, something is feeding on the homeless in Pioneer Square. Quinton, enigmatic IT genius who takes care of Harper’s electronic security, realizes right away this is supernatural and not your usual deranged serial killer, so he calls on Harper for help. Bodies—and body parts—surface. At first, they suspect vampires. As the investigation progresses, they realize the monster is more primal and ancient than vampires, and is rooted in the legends of the Native Americans in the area.

I noticed that as the series progresses, we see more fast-paced action and character development taking place. Patterns that spun unnoticed in the first book start falling into place, such as the homeless guy that accosted Harper in the first book having more of a role in her supernatural reincarnation than we would have thought. For me, this makes the series very clever, but not in a way that is off-putting as we get to enjoy a richer plot… and a few surprises.

Quinton has a more prominent role this time in Harper’s love life, replacing Will, the antique dealer who helped Harper find the revenant-possessed organ of the first book—which is inevitable, given that Harper has a lot more in common with Quinton. But let’s not dismiss Will entirely. Harper goes to England, where Will is based, I believe, in the fourth book, doesn’t she?

Anyway, Seattle’s Undergound is the monster’s playground, taking sanctuary away from the homeless. This maze of underground sidewalks and abandoned basements used to be on the city’s street level, until a fire in 1889 razed much of the city. The Underground was born when the city decided to raise the streets one story higher to solve flooding and the sewers’ backflush problem due to incoming tides.

The amalgamation from truth and fantasy made for another compelling read. I was extremely satisfied, and I look forward to what the Gray has in store for Harper next.