Thursday, 2 December 2010

Underground by Kat Richardson

Third in the Greywalker series by Kat Richardson, Underground finds PI Harper Blaine trying to find out why Pioneer Square's homeless are turning up dead. Or worse, why they are turning up as zombies. The deaths are not random, and finding the pattern that links them will lead Harper to a confrontation with an ancient monster that may be too much for her to handle on her own.

I think if this story had a theme it would be the difference between belief and appearances. It kind of runs all the way through the story. Not just the monster, but Harper, Quinton, the homeless people that Harper is trying to help, Albert the Ghost. They can all appear to be one thing but are something else.

I have to admit it's been a while since I read Poltergeist (Greywalker #2) but I do remember that I liked Quinton and hoped he would make a more significant appearance in future stories, and it seems I got my wish. And luckily for me the prologue pretty much takes care of the backstory. It's probably been even longer since I read a UF/PI book, so this makes a more than refreshing change.

Two things to mention here before I get on with the review.

  • This book has a Ferret score of 1

  • This book has one of the most frustrating (for me) things. And it seems trivial to mention it but it gets under my skin whilst I'm reading and annoys like a very annoying thing. Every time a character says 'Okay', it is typed OK. Maybe I find it annoying because capitalisation is associated with shouting?

Okay :), niggle over.

The Greywalker series is a little heavier than most of the urban fantasy I read. There's a distinct lack of light moments to balance the dark. It's quite melancholy storytelling and as a heroine, Harper comes across as a little cold, or maybe it's just that she sees the world in a completely different way to everybody else. This difference bleeds through in her attitude towards other people and Will her previous boyfriend isn't capable of handling it.

In fact she doesn't have the most welcoming of attitudes, so it helps that Harper is quite the sarcastic heroine and that Quinton (unlike Will) is not scared off by the appearance of zombies.
"I admit I hesitated. Once again, I'd have to deconstruct a zombie in front of a man I liked. The last one hadn't handled it very well..."
It's intelligent UF which I like but I don't think it's for everyone. If you like your heroines kickass and wisecracking every other paragraph you may not get on too well with the Greywalker series. Harper is more quietly caustic and she has a bum knee. That doesn't mean that she is in anyway a walkover, but she figures things out in her own way.

The mystery I think I would appreciate more on a second read-through. I think it would help to have a better idea of what was going on. To be more aware of the motivations of certain characters. This isn't a book I would recommend if you haven't read the previous two, I personally wish I had read it closer to finishing Poltergeist. It isn't my favourite of the Greywalker series, but it also hasn't put my off either. It's not so common to find a UF/PI story where the two genres are as well balanced as here. So this will definitely be on my Series Challenge list for next year.


Sarai said...

I love this series and I am going to have to pick this one up. I like that it is intelligent and I love Harper!

Nicole said...

Hehehe! "This book has a Ferret score of 1" - love it!

Renee said...

I'm currently reading Labyrinth, the current Harper Blaine book. The way things are going, it's my favorite to date. The series seems to draw on PI detective fiction as much as it does from UF conventions.

About the Okay/OK: maybe it's an regional thing? OK always looks more correct to me. :-P

LesleyW said...

Sarai - the reasons I love it as well.

Nicole - lol, I thought after saying I'd score ferrets I'd better do it. And this was the first book I was able to score.

Renee - I think it is because I associate OK with shouting. And I'm more used to it being written out as okay in fiction. I have Vanished on my TBR shelf. But haven't picked up Labyrinth.