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. 

 

 Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!



Comments
by Author KatRichardson on ‎08-12-2011 01:35 PM

Wow, thanks Paul! This is the most exciting reveiw I've ever received.

by Soccercoach on ‎08-12-2011 02:35 PM

I try & read as much as I can but that only gives me a book to 2 books a month.  I can honestly say that Paul has never sent me down a wrong path.  Because of this review I will pick up the first book of this series. Greywalker is on my list!!!

by BrandieC on ‎08-12-2011 06:46 PM

Terrific review as always, Paul.  The Greywalker series is just one of the series I have picked up based purely on your recommendation.

 

I just finished reading Labyrinth, partly because I had been waiting for the NOOKbook price to go down and partly because I wanted to read it right before Downpour came out.  I have been reading so many series lately that I was afraid I would lose the thread of the story if I waited too long between the two books.  I have to say that I was disappointed in Labyrinth; the whole discussion of the rotating Greek key, etc. just lost me.  I went back and looked at your review of Labyrinth and the forum discussion thread, and it appears that I am definitely in the minority on that book; I had really felt that the series was growing, with each book stronger than the one before, so I wasn't sure how I should feel about the series now with my negative reaction to Labyrinth.

 

I really like the sound of Downpour's storyline from your description, so I'm looking forward to reading it once my library copy arrives.

by kimba88 on ‎08-13-2011 10:23 AM

In my opinion your Chandler reference is spot on.

by Rontar on ‎08-13-2011 08:41 PM

This has been one of my favorite series from the start of it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a smart and exciting Urban Fantasy series.

by on ‎08-14-2011 09:03 AM

Although I don't have your knowledge of classic noir mystery Paul, I know that the Greywalker books are classics. Each one delivers a great story powered by the protagonist's convincing investigations/efforts. Each year I anticipate reading a completely entertaining Greywalker novel, and each year Kat Richardson delivers. There's something very satisfying about reading a series that features an uncompromising female investigator who's a credibly flawed but strong human being. Harper Blaine is as a completely believable female protagonist, a rare thing in Urban Fantasy. When you add in Harper's evocative first-person voice, the serpentine story-lines, fascinating descriptions and imaginative supernatural elements, this series becomes irresistible.   

by on ‎08-15-2011 12:21 PM

This is a great series. I just got a copy of Downpour. I am really excited about being caught up in this series. I do like the mystery/detective type feel to the books. Harper is a solid female main character.

by Jalama on ‎09-09-2011 09:15 PM

I first came across Kat Richardson's work reading her short story in Mean Streets.  I thought the writing and plot of The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog was definitely a cut above current writing in this genre.  I went on to read the first Greywalker novel and, sadly,was not nearly as impressed. The plot held great promise, but the execution of writing was not as crafted as I'd experienced previously.  I appreciate your quotation from her latest work.  It inspired me to give her second book a try and see the arc of progression in Ms. Richardson's writing.  Thank you for the review and another chance at discovering a new author I want to follow.

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