Kat Richardson, GreyWalker, New York, NY. Roc Books, 2006
ISBN 0-451-46107-X) 339 pages
In GreyWalker, Kat Richardson's wonderfully eccentric and fun debut, we are lead down a dark and sometimes comical trail into the world of ghosts, witches and vampires. Kat's tough talking and gun totting heroine Harper Blaine, a female detective with a gift at seeing all things grey has a deadpan sarcastic streak in the spooky.
Grey, the word according to the parameters of this book is best summed up not by Harper but by the very unorthodox linguistics professor/paranormal philosopher Ben Danziger, "Now, if what we perceive is just a state of energy, then it follows that there may be other states we can not perceive because we exist within a different state. Beside our `normal world-our normal energy-there is a parallel or `parallel or `paranormal' world where other energy states dominate and a transition zone where the world states overlap. Like matryoshka dolls, nesting one inside the next. The transition zone is the Grey, and it has its special denizens." Richardson, Kat. GreyWalker. New York, NY: ROC, 2006.
Being that Harper suffered a near fatal assault at the beginning of the book, having said died for 2 minutes. She awoke with a queer ability to see into the supernatural world, hence forth becoming a GreyWalker, one who can walk thru both planes.
Unlike the cliché, where a reader would expect the individual to leap at the chance of having this "gift" and quite open to the idea, Harper is not. Harper Blain's whole perception in life is watching it thru a very basic colour pallet of black and white, excluding grey. The world is a very easily solved problem to the skeptic and Harper is a skeptic, down to the situation where she is pushed face first with a vampire, she still doesn't believe it. Until a confirmation from her pseudo spiritual tutor, Mara the witch then does the truth begin to sink in.
However, the fact the title character Harper is so strictly drawn out, it creates its own cliché a Bogie film noir character without the restrained sex appeal. The character at most was a cartoon of what every 1940's private detective was; the only separation was the gender-Harper was a female. With the concept of a Greywalker, I was surprised how rudimentary and unoriginal she was. Harper could have been exciting and daring, but instead the secondary characters stole the entirely. The vampires here fall into the Anne Rice School of intellectualized immortals except containing none of the yearning or passion. They were in essence similar to Blain's character base caricatures minus one vampire. The vampire in question was an upper-class, college student was refreshing, as was the home making witch, and the tech geek, sadly by the first few chapters I found myself asking, why I could not hear more of their voices rather than Harpers.
Frankly I was bored with her. The book illustrated Kat's ease with simply wording that allowed the reader to push on and with uncomplicated conflicts that made everything very approachable-too approachable. The struggles in this book were mundane, I wanted something that challenged the characters and allowed one to be shocked. There was no shock just a very obvious skeleton; a very a very straight foward introduction,a routine climax and languid conclusion.
However with this subject I could assume a second installment could play down some of Harper's non-developed persona. Or better yet let the witch and the vampire become larger characters in this tome.
Taking this book as what it is, a very light, fluffy read, I recommend it to all who may need something frivolous to pass the time with at air port terminals or long lunches alone.