Kat Richardson’s GREYWALKER series perfectly unites the classic private investigator mystery with the paranormal fantasy. The mysteries are rigorous within the rules of the paranormal realm Richardson has invented; her background research is broad and utilized well; and her characters become deeper and more interesting with every new novel. The latest in the series, Seawitch, gives us insight into the character of Detective Rey Solis of the Seattle Police Department, who has been a pain in the side for PI Harper Blaine in the past, but who becomes more of an ally and even a friend.
Seawitch begins with Harper receiving an assignment from an insurance company: why has the yacht Seawitch returned to its home port 27 years after it went missing, presumably taking all of its passengers to a watery grave? The insurance company has long since paid the resulting claim, and it wants to know where the boat has been all this time; it suspects fraud, and it wants to prosecute someone for it. The boat is unmanned, making its reappearance inexplicable, but insurers don’t believe in the inexplicable.
Harper meets up with Solis when she approaches the boat for a preliminary examination, and is surprised to see him there. This isn’t a plum assignment, after all, and Solis is pretty much entitled to whatever plums the Seattle Police Department has, having recently been promoted to detective sergeant. Harper gets the creeps as soon as she sets foot on the boat; when she is suddenly drenched with seawater — not seawater from the sea, she’s just immediately drenched from an invisible wave while below the deck — Solis is stunned. As Harper says, “it’s one thing to imagine someone you know is a little on the weird side and a different thing entirely to have it thrust upon you in a hallway the size of a Volkswagen’s backseat.” That’s only the beginning of the weirdness that is visited on Harper during her exploration of the boat, though, and Solis learns that Harper “sometimes ha[s] little disagreements with… um, with reality. And physics.”
It’s the beginning of a wild ride for Solis, as well as for Harper. Mermaids and otters play roles, though the mermaids have little in common with Ariel of Disney fame (save for beauty) and the otters aren’t nearly as delightful as those you’ll find at your local aquarium. Richardson’s plot is intricate, requiring readers to stay on their toes to try to figure out what’s going on here before Harper and Solis do, but not so complicated as to make reading a chore. The sea voyage that comprises the final third of the book makes one realize that the waters of Puget Sound, which seem relatively tame when viewed on a tranquil summer afternoon from ashore, are dangerous and even deadly. What we learn about Solis along the way makes this an even more complex work, giving him so much more shaping and shading that he has become a character of nearly equal import to Harper. Seawitch is a fine addition to the GREYWALKER series, and you’ll finish it already longing for the next one.