Richardson’s Greywalker novels saga (Greywalker, Poltergeist, Underground, Vanished, Labyrinth, and the recently released Downpour) – which feature Seattle based private investigator Harper Blaine who, after being clinically dead for almost two minutes, can now see into the Grey, the realm of ghosts and other supernatural beings – are a fusion of hard-boiled mystery, supernatural fantasy, and Ludlumesque thriller.
But what makes this series arguably the best paranormal fantasy saga on the shelves right now is Richardson’s highly intelligent, timeless, and undeniably classy writing style. In a genre that has its fair share of scantily clad, oversexed heroines and over-the-top blood psychotic violence, the Greywalker saga harkens back to some of the supernatural classics, in particular Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence stories.
And her latest, Downpour, exemplifies my point. Reading a Greywalker novel is the pinnacle of literary escapism for me. It’s full immersion from the very first words. Downpour begins in typical Richardson style – a brilliant hook and a subtle reference to Chandler all in the first few sentences:
“I have a habit of dying. I’ve taken the Big Sleep at least three times that I know of, though it never lasts more than a few minutes. Each time, I wake up changed, but not in any way normal people can see. Next time, I might not wake up at all, but between now and then, I have a job to do: to protect the Grey – the fringe between the normal world and the world of the purely paranormal, where ghosts roam and magic sings in neon-hot lines of energy across the empty space of the world between – and to protect the rest of the world from it.”
It all goes back to an old Native American legend involving a deity, the Storm King, punishing the inhabitants of a once peaceful land for fighting. “…so he tore off the peak of his mountain and threw it down into the valley… and he dammed up the river. All the people in the valley drowned and the lakes formed over their corpses. That’s what this is, a valley full of blood, a lake full of death.”
I obviously love reading a wide variety of genre fiction – and there is a lot of exceptional paranormal fantasy being released right now.
Richardson’s Greywalker saga featuring private investigator Harper Blaine just may be the best of the best…
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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