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Second in the Greywalker urban fantasy series set in Seattle and revolving around a private investigator who can walk between worlds.
My Take
Whoa...the frauds aren't all that surprising
especially with what's revealed about his past but the direction that Tuckman's experiment takes and its results are very unexpected.
I like what Richardson is doing with the series as a whole and this particular installment was pretty tense. My only objection is that Richardson hasn't worked her continuing characters in this one as much as she worked the story and its particular characters. It was fascinating how she worked their interaction and the changing dynamics even though I also feel that she neglected to stretch the tensions between them as much as she could have as well as their own personal issues. I wouldn't mind seeing a short story on Patricia Railsbeck's kids and I rather liked Wayne.
The Story
Harper is hired by Professor Tuckman to find the saboteur in his experiment to study "how rational individuals become irrational in groups and how that is reinforced by the group itself". The irony is that Tuckman himself has two saboteurs in the group and he thinks there's another one working on his or her own. And he is lyin' his ass off to Harper.
As Harper looks into the experiment and interviews its participants, she learns how the parameters of the experiment are twisting them, changing interpersonal relationships, creating emotional havoc and she discovers the underlying frauds perpetrated by Tuckman.
The Characters
Harper Blaine is a private investigator with a special ability to "see" the supernatural after a brush with death (see Greywalker). She's getting better at understanding how to use this new gift but is still leery of it. Chaos is her manic ferret. Will is the man Harper would love to have in her life and he's not sure it's a life he can handle; Michael is his brother.
Mara Danziger is a witch who helps Harper with the more physical aspects of the Grey while her husband Ben better understands its metaphysics. Both teach at the University of Washington. Their very young son Brian is currently going through a rhino phase. Albert is their resident ghost.
Quinton is an independent DIY who has become friends with Harper. If you can imagine it, Quinton can create it. Detective Rey Solis is investigating the first murder of one of Tuckman's group. Phoebe Mason is the owner of Old Possum's Books `n' Beans, a used bookstore and self-appointed surrogate mother to Harper. Happily, Phoebe's family sees themselves as Harper's family as well.
Cameron Shadley is the vampire Harper helped in Greywalker. Carlos is both vampire and necromancer besides being Cameron's mentor in his new unlife and the proprietor of Adult Fantasies. Harper finds him very scary; so far, there is a detente between Carlos and Edward. Edward is the head vampire in Seattle.
Gartner Tuckman is a professor at Pacific Northwest University. Denise Francisco is his very angry secretary who helped install the system for the meeting and control rooms while the insecure and angry Terry Dornier monitors the controls. Celia Falwell is the "ghost" in Tuckman's experiment. Mark Lupoldi is one of Tuckman's special assistants in the experiment. The experiment's participants include Dale and Cara Stahlqvist, both A-types in business with an open marriage; Ken George; Wayne Hopke is the retired major with a drinking problem; Ana Choi and Ian Markine joined out of boredom; and, Patricia Railsback is an unhappy housewife whose kids can see the Grey.
The Cover
The cover has a very cocky Harper posed next to a Chinese dragon on a street in Chinatown in Seattle--you can just see the Space Needle in the distance--all of it covered in a very hazy yellow.
The title is all about the Poltergeist as it becomes more and more alive.

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