Saturday, June 07, 2008


By Kat Richardson
ROC Fantasy
341 pages
Availabe Aug. 2008

It seems like ever since Jim Butcher unleashed the Dresden Files on the world, we’ve become inundated with urban fantasies about Private Eyes with paranormal abilities. Kat Richardson’s Seattle based P.I., Harper Blaine is the newest member of this ever expanding club. In this, her third book, we quickly learn that Blaine was accidentally killed on a previous case and legally dead for two minutes. When she was revived, it was with the ability to see and move in the ghostly dimension she refers to as the Grey. The Grey is inhabited by all kinds of ghosts, zombies and mythological monsters, some friendly, others frightening and dangerous. With each new book, Blaine becomes more adept at dealing with her new sight and gifts but it certainly doesn’t make her “normal” life any easier.

At the start of UNDERGROUND, one of her friends, a street character with a genius for electronics, named Quinton, makes Blaine aware that someone or something is horrendously murdering homeless people who have settled in the mysterious underworld avenues of old Seattle. After a catastrophic fire at the turn the century, the people of this Pacific Coast metropolis reconstructed their city over the skeletons of the old, in the process sealing away an entire hidden urban landscape. The Seattle Underground has been featured in books, documentaries and even as a setting for several horror movies, the most popular being the NIGHT STRANGLER, the second Kolchak feature produced by Dan Curtis and starring the late Darren McGavin. It is an excellent background for a monster tale and that’s what we have here.

Blaine and Quinton soon learn that they are dealing with an ancient Indian monster said to inhabit the area and reappear ever few decades to feed. Because of her ability to cross the boundaries between our world and the Grey, Blaine is the only person with any chance of finding the legendary beast and stopping it. But to do so she will need Quinton’s help and that of several other close friends, all of whom could end up the creature’s next victim for their participation.

Harper Blaine is a likeable character, as are the supporting players in this adventure. Richardson draw’s heavily from her knowledge of the city and its history, much to the story’s enrichment. I’ve never been to Seattle, but after following Blaine through its streets, parks and amazing Underground, I’m ready to book a flight west. UNDERGROUND is a fast paced, edge of your seat fantasy adventure with many surprises and some new wrinkles in this fast growing sub-genre. If you get a kick out of things that go bump into the night, this book is just your ticket. Get it punched now.

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