This was a solid paranormal mystery, a part of a series. I didn’t read the other books of the series but I didn’t miss much, as each new book explores a new paranormal conundrum. The protagonist of the series Harper is a PI – in a normal world. But she has a double life. She is a Graywalker too. Her second job is a sort of a border guard between the normal world and the Gray – the paranormal plane which coexists with our own. When something untoward happens in the Gray – demons, ghosts, or other assorted daemon misbehave – she has to investigate and fix it.
This time, a ghost of a man brutally murdered five years ago cries out for her help, and she is obliged to investigate and find his murderer. The mystery is complex, with many unexpected snags and twists, and Harper must deal with a diverse bunch of magic users and magic beings to get to the bottom and find the truth. Many of her ‘witnesses’ lie, while others try to consume her or use her for their own ends. She is smart enough to avoid all the pitfalls and powerful enough to triumph over her adversaries, but life is never easy for a paranormal investigator.
I like Harper. She is a strong, resilient heroine. Unlike many in the genre, she is not overburdened by conscience; she does what must be done and doesn’t bother feeling guilty afterwards. She doesn’t do soul-searching either. Maybe she did in the first few books of the series, but not in this one. I think, like many real people in law-enforcement and medical professions, she has built a wall between herself and her job, and she doesn’t allow emotional stuff to seep through. My aunt was a GP and she had this detachment too. Compassion is too costly in such jobs.
In fact, the emotional subtext is almost missing from all the characters. Action and danger abound, adventure and magic run gamut, but sentimental mush simply isn’t there.
The magical system is sophisticated and original, the writing clear and error-free, and the pacing reasonably fast, but this book has a problem too: the narrative is bogged down in details. Too many details can be deadly for a genre novel, and that’s what’s almost happening in this book.
Descriptions of geography take pages at a time, and so do involved explanations of magic. The particulars of Harper’s previous cases interfere in the smooth flow of the current one without any relevant connection. Harper also has a pet ferret, and it adds to the amusement factor of the story, but when she recounts the ferret’s activity every time the creature is awake, the action stops, and the reader wonders: is it important to the plot? Spoiler: it isn’t, so boredom settles in.
Aside from the avalanche of details and the faint personal coldness of all the characters, the book was easy to read. It was a captivating paranormal mystery and I’d recommend it to those who like the genre.