Seawitch (Greywalker Series #7)

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Overview

Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.

 

A quarter century ago, the Seawitch cruised away from her dock and disappeared with everyone on board. Now, the boat has mysteriously returned to her old berth in Seattle ...

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Seawitch (Greywalker Series #7)

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Overview

Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.

 

A quarter century ago, the Seawitch cruised away from her dock and disappeared with everyone on board. Now, the boat has mysteriously returned to her old berth in Seattle and the insurance company has hired Harper to find out what happened.

 

But Harper is not the only one investigating. Seattle Police Detective Rey Solis is a good cop, albeit one who isn’t comfortable with the creepy cases that always seem to end up in Harper’s lap. As they explore the abandoned vessel, Harper and Solis discover a cabin containing symbols drawn in human blood, revealing the ghost ship’s grave history.

 

As Solis focuses on the possible murder of a passenger’s wife, Harper’s investigation leads her to a powerful being who may be responsible for the disappearance of the Seawitch’s passengers and crew. And while their searches lead Harper and Solis in different directions, they will need to put aside their differences to solve a deadly mystery twenty-five years in the making…

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Editorial Reviews

Charlaine Harris
“A great heroine.”
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris
“A great heroine.”
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris

“A great heroine.”

Library Journal
Since her death and resuscitation, PI Harper Blaine has joined the ranks of the Greywalkers, individuals who can walk between the world of the living and the realm of the supernatural. When a boat named the Seawitch returns to Seattle after having been missing for 25 years, Harper assists the insurance company's investigation. Police detective Rey Solis is also assigned to the case and, despite his discomfort with the supernatural events associated with Harper, must work with her to solve a potentially deadly mystery. VERDICT Richardson (Greywalker; Poltergeist) continues to produce fast-paced, intriguing urban fantasies featuring a tough and independent heroine. Series fans will want this title; recommend this also to readers who enjoy C.E. Murphy's Walker series and the novels of Rachel Caine and Seanan McGuire.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451464552
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Series: Greywalker Series , #7
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson lives on a boat in Seattle with her husband and a small pit bull—who is not the world's largest ferret, no matter how much she pretends.. Kat rides a motorcycle, shoots target pistol, and has been known to swing dance, sing, and spend insufficient time at the gym.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

I am trying to break my habit of dying. I’ve had my turns on the dance floor with death at least three times that I know of. So far, it has never lasted more than a few minutes and I hope I won’t be staying longer anytime soon. Although I fear my next pas de deux with the Reaper will be the last and lasting one, I prefer to put that bow off as long as possible.

Each time I’ve died, I’ve awakened changed in ways normal people can’t see. These unexpected and unwanted adjustments have stuck me with a strange job: to protect the Grey, the fringe between the normal world and the world of the purely paranormal, from which rises the ghosts and monsters of our collective nightmares, where magic sings across the blackness of this world between worlds as clouds and lines of gleaming energy. Sometimes I must also protect the rest of the world from the Grey and things that are birthed there. I am not a magical creature myself—at least not in the way a ghost or a vampire, a witch or a sorcerer, is. I’m just the leg man and general dogsbody for the thing that guards the place; I’m a Greywalker—Hands of the Guardian, Paladin of the Dead.

None of these titles are on my business cards or my office door. As far as the normal world of Seattle is concerned, I’m Harper Blaine, private investigator. It’s the job I was doing long before an angry man killed me and helped introduce me to the Grey. I continue to do it partly because I’m good at it and largely because ghosts tend to stiff me on the bill. Some days I long for the boredom of background checks, personal–injury fraud, and missing persons handed off from an overworked police department. But something always seems to lead me back to the Grey, whether I want it to or not. My friends and family—such as they are—get the short, hard end of the stick too much of the time. I am sorry for that and I know I owe them something better. When the living nightmares are bleakest and thick around me, these ties are all that keep me anchored to what is good and right and human, and I will hold those things close, because this is not a job you quit—it’s one you die from.

Chapter 1

The news called it a ghost ship. I didn’t detect any ghosts from the outside, but the boat was enshrouded in thick, colored skeins of Grey fog and ghostlight in gleaming, watery shades: aqua and cerulean with thin whispers of violet twining through them all. I didn’t see any ghosts per se, but there was definitely something paranormal going on—more than any reporter was likely to credit.

I stood in the fog near the end of B dock, waiting, looking at the Seawitch. The insurance paperwork called the old wooden boat a fantail motor yacht, designed by someone named Ted Geary—which I guessed was a big deal. I’ve dealt with boats before, but I’m certainly not an expert and a lot of the technical information about this boat meant nothing to me. It had a long, low profile—relatively speaking—with a round stern and rakish angles that exuded a Jazz Age sense of power. I knew the family had money—the boat wasn’t the only expensive object the insurance company that had hired me had covered for them—but the vessel wasn’t flashy; in its current derelict and stained condition, freighted with mystery, it was grim.

By all reports—official and speculative—the Seawitch had cruised away from its berth in this same marina twenty–seven years earlier and vanished from the knowledge of men, taking four passengers and one crewman with it. They had never returned but the boat had; suddenly and without any sign of hands aboard, it had simply been found one recent morning, standing at the end of its old dock. The derelict boat had been moved to B to rest with the abandoned, broken, seized, and foreclosed vessels until the truth of its reappearance could be ascertained.

The story in the newspaper claimed that the boat had sailed into port under its own power, but, really, the Seawitch seemed to have arrived under cover of the strange, low–hanging morning fog that had swelled around the edges of the Sound and skulked below the bluffs every June morning in Seattle that year, making the hills and spires of the city appear as islands afloat in a haunted sea. Here it was, a lost ship piloted by no one living, returning to its berth after being presumed lost with all hands. Of course, that wasn’t quite the truth of the matter but it was close enough. And it raised the hit rate at the news Web sites by a thousand percent, which was far more important than veracity; advertisers pay for eyeballs, not for unvarnished truth.

The insurance company had paid the claim long ago, and when the Seawitchreappeared, they were far more interested in where the boat had been all this time and why it wasn’t a hotel for fish at the bottom of Puget Sound than in unraveling any ghostly sea stories. They felt it far more likely that someone had defrauded them than that the boat and its crew had somehow vanished and remained hidden for all this time. They wanted prosecutable answers.

The case would have landed back with the original investigator but he’d retired, and since freaky circumstances are my specialty it didn’t take long for the file to end up on my desk. This case had the smell of something that would taint your life and haunt your dreams for years afterwardm, so I wouldn’t have blamed anyone who passed on it, especially since insurance investigations of this kind don’t come with high–end recovery fees—just lowball hourly wages and the occasional dinky bonus. Insurance investigators are sometimes known to play fast and loose, so once the cops got involved, my colleagues were even less interested in contesting my assignment.

Lucky me. I not only got the case; I knew the cop.

And so I stood in the shreds of morning mist, waiting for Detective Rey Solis to arrive, show me aboard, and explain why the Seattle Police Department was involved in what should have been a matter for the maritime lawyers and insurance actuaries to scrap over in court. Something large and dark—maybe an otter hunting in the salmon run—splashed in the water beside the dock and made me jump.

In the swirling fog, the sound of footsteps on the floating cement dock bounced off the water in a disorienting fashion. I turned my back to the boat and the unseen otter and stood still, waiting for someone to emerge. Solis, looking like a specter in his dark raincoat with his wet dark hair plastered against his head, seemed to resolve from the murk as he drew close enough to see me, and I him. He nodded to me and stopped at the foot of the steps someone had provided for boarding the Seawitch.

“Good morning.”

I wasn’t so sure of it, but I nodded back. “Morning, Solis. How did you get stuck with this one?” I knew he’d been promoted to detective sergeant not long ago and he probably had the seniority to avoid an assignment like this one. Homicide had been separated from other major crimes a few years back and this sort of thing wasn’t their usual beat. They were still top dog where any suspicious or violent death was concerned, but the vagueness of the jurisdiction might have put it in some other agency’s bailiwick or given a senior officer an excuse to push it onto someone else.

He cocked his head in what I thought of as his half shrug, but didn’t explain himself. His aura didn’t give him away, either, but it rarely does.

I can’t say I was unhappy to be working with Solis—he’s a good detective and I respect him—but I’d never thought Solis was comfortable with me or the creepy cases I seemed to attract, so this was going to be interesting, most likely in that Chinese–curse sort of way.

“Well,” I started, not sure what I should say, “I’m glad it’s you. Better than working with someone new.”

He gave another small nod and turned to look at the Seawitch. “She does not look like a ghost ship, does she?”

“Looks solid enough,” I replied. The structure was intact as far as I could tell. I was more than ready to go aboard and not worried about the physical side of the boat: I couldn’t recall ever being seasick except when experiencing the sensation of the world heaving underfoot when I’d first been introduced to the Grey. I’d gotten over that eventually.

Solis led the way on board, up a set of plastic stairs that were a little too short—the last step to the deck was about eighteen inches above the last riser and a couple of feet away across empty air. With my long legs it was only annoying, but Solis, being five inches shorter than I, had to stretch a bit. He then used a key on the padlock affixed to a makeshift hasp on the main hatch. Someone had taken a drill to the original lock inset in the narrow wooden door and the remains sat loosely in their case, making a metallic rattle as Solis pushed inward.

“Did your guys drill the lock or was it that way when you got here?” I asked.

“It was one of the Port Authority employees,” he replied, stepping inside, since there was no room to move any other direction with me standing on the side deck behind him.

“They can just do that?”

“Yes, if safety is in question.”

The boat didn’t seem like a hazard—just a bit old and abused—but in this day of terrorism, I suppose the thinking was, Who could be sure that it wasn’t a bomb or a floating biological attack waiting to happen?

I nodded as Solis watched me slip through the doorway. I nearly recoiled at the smell inside.

The room reeked of mildew and wood rot. We’d walked into a huge upper salon with scattered sofas and tables around the room and sturdy wooden cabinets and shelves built into the walls below the window line. The cream and blue upholstery on the seats was striped with green and black stains, and the filthy blue carpet felt moist and spongy underfoot. The matching blue curtains had rotted to shreds, and the tables and cabinet doors were warped and discolored. From inside I could see out in almost any direction between the ruined hangings. I would bet the sun shining on all that glass had done its part to advance the rot, and at the same time, the spotted windows made the room seem both open and trapped in its own personal fog bank.

I sneezed and coughed a little as the smell aggravated my nose and throat. “Ugh,” I muttered. The movement of the boat was barely noticeable, but the stink was compensating for the lack of mal de mer.

“It is unpleasant,” Solis responded. “It’s worse below.”

“Oh . . . goody,” I replied, turning my attention back to the room around us.

A squared–off arrangement of the furniture defined a lounge area that faced the rear of the living room–like space—I knew real hard–core boat people would have called it the saloon, as it was labeled on the plans, but damned if I would. I wondered why the seats were oriented to the back until I figured out that the entire rear wall was made of wood–and–glass panels that folded aside to open the back of the space to the round, covered aft deck. Passengers could sit inside reading, chatting, or eating while enjoying the outdoors without having to be in it—back when the interior was still clean and dry—and if the weather went sour could still use the area just by pulling the doors across. Judging by the moisture level, the weather had invaded at some point, doors or no doors.

“Could we open those up and air this place out a bit?” I asked.

Solis considered it, then nodded and went to open up the doors himself, scowling at me when I moved to help. I ignored him. The sooner we had the boat open and full of fresher air, the better, as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t as if we were trampling up a clean crime scene here. Whatever had happened aboard the Seawitch, it hadn’t taken place recently.

I touched the nearest of the folding doors and felt a cold frisson race up my arm and across my scalp. I must have gasped or twitched, because Solis cocked his head and glanced at me from the corner of his eye.

I shook him off. “Just one of those creepy feelings.”

He grunted, nodded, and went back to opening doors. Once we had the back of the boat open, fresher, cold air rushed in, swirling around and, to my eyes, raising filaments of violet, blue, and green energy off the floor and furnishings as if the magical residue of whatever had happened in the boat had dried out like sea grass left on the shore. The fine threads were the same colors I’d observed outside. I helped Solis shove the last of the resisting, warped doors aside and took a moment to peer harder at the Grey—that thin space of magic and possibility lying between the normal and the paranormal worlds.

The misty material of the Grey was acting stranger than usual here; instead of the foggy, airy movement I normally saw, the boat seemed to be filled with two separate Grey fluids that refused to mix. The brew flowed and crested in the space as if held in an agitated fishbowl, the walls warped and rough around it. At the far end and to the right was a staircase where one of the substances flowed down, taking all the amethyst color with it as well as the cerulean and emerald, while the other remained above, showing only thin watery shades of blue and green. The air felt colder in that area, piercing right through my jacket like winter ice.

I stared a moment longer at the strange tide of the Grey. It looked . . . as if something powerful had passed through the boat from back to front, sinking down where it found access and leaving this lingering stream as a reminder. How long ago had it been at full flood?

I turned my attention back to the normal world, to Solis, who was frowning at me nearby.

“This . . . evidence of something foul that brought you here—is it downstairs?” I asked, thinking about the direction and flow of the energetic traces.

He raised his eyebrows. “Yes. Come with me.”

He continued to frown as he turned to lead me to the scene of whatever crime the SPD suspected had happened aboard. Judging by the way his usually quiet aura spiked and jumped, I’d rattled him—which was no mean trick.

We bypassed the rest of the upper deck and I followed him down the narrow staircase—a “companionway,” to sailors—submerging into the oily, swirling Grey. For an instant I thought I was drowning, the rising spectral liquid bringing a cold recollection of a certain teenage summer when I’d gone swimming with my cousin Jill and not entirely escaped my first brush with death. Jill had not escaped at all. I was glad I was behind Solis and he couldn’t see me jerk my head back in suddenly remembered terror as the uncanny fluid seemed to rise over my face and push into my mouth and nose. In a moment the sensation passed as I continued to breathe normally, but my heart was still racing for a while afterward and the scent of the sea stayed in the air around me as long as we remained aboard the Seawitch.

From the foot of the stairs, Solis lead me forward along a narrow corridor that ran about a third the length of the boat. As we walked I felt colder and colder and the sense of damp became oppressive. I realized I was slowing, as if I were fighting a current and feeling tired from it. Nearly to the end of the hall, Solis, who was several steps ahead of me, stopped and turned toward a narrow door on his left.

I moved to catch up with him—he hadn’t even opened the door yet—but a sudden blast of wet cold smacked me down. I stumbled to one knee, bowing my head against what felt like a deluge of icy water. Solis whipped back to stare at me and took a step away as I planted my hands on the walls and shoved my way back to my feet. Keeping my hands braced, I stood firm and shook back my hair with a sharp flip of my head. Water from my drenched locks spattered against Solis’s coat and face—seawater that reeked of dying things struggling in poisoned currents.

He caught his breath short and stared at me, his head pulled back, murmuring under his breath, “Madre—”

I took a couple of steadying breaths and fought off the sense of being battered by a riptide only I was caught in. “Welcome to the freak show,” I muttered.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    fast paced, action packed tale that kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Harper Blaine is a private investigator, who after dying for two minutes found herself able to walk the realm between the living and the paranormal. This space is known as the "grey". She is known as a Greywalker and maintains the balance between both worlds. While reading the series we have watched Harper learn her skills as a Greywalker, face down evil adversaries and figure out her own personal life. I adore and respect Harper. She is strong, brave, snarky and brilliant. She thinks on her feet, and is a total kickass. She is like a Timex watch she takes a licking' and keeps on ticking. She is without a doubt one of my favorite female protagonists. She doesn't complain about her problems, she is fair and always tries to do the noble thing. She has made a life for herself in Seattle working as both a PI and handling "grey" cases. Often the two intertwine and the ride is always a good one. Harper has been hired by an insurance company, to investigate the return of the Seawitch. Twenty-seven years ago the ship and her crew disappeared. They were declared lost. Now it has suddenly reappeared and is docked in its old birth at the marina. Harper learns that the Seattle police department is also investigating and she is anxious to find out why. At the marina Detective Rey Solis greets her. Rey’s cases and Harper’s have intertwined before and Harper suspects he doesn’t entirely trust her. The tale that unfolds is suspenseful, full of old Ireland lore and mystical creatures. Richardson has this incredible ability to create characters that you cannot help but love. I have already professed my feelings for protagonist Harper Blaine. In each novel we have seen her grow and this novel is no exception. I loved seeing her open up and connect with people. Harper is complicated, delightful and her snarky attitude often has me giggling. I am so pleased that Richardson chose to include Rey Solis in this case. Learning his history and meeting his family was interesting and I loved getting to know the man behind the cold, professional, by-the-book Detective. I am hoping he joins Harper on other cases. Quinton wasn’t as present in this novel, but when he was ..WOW! We get to know more about him and his secretive past. Facts revealed about his father..OMG! I promised no spoilers so my lips are sealed. We meet other colorful people and creatures that add to the mystery. Richardson brought these secondary characters to life and each was unique in their own right. Let’s talk world-building and nobody does it like Kat! If you have read any books in this series, I think you will agree that Richardson is brilliant with bringing the realm between the living and the paranormal to life. As I read her words I slipped into the grey and it bursts to life. Each novel reveals more about this mysterious, unique place and I find myself completely enthralled. Harper's case was fascinating. I love to watch documentaries about lost ships and speculate about what occurred. The tale of the Seawitch was fascinating, as the author slowly revealed clues and pieces of the mystery. She did this while weaving in old lore’s and mystical creatures. It was delightful and she breathed an air of believability into it all. The action scenes were exciting and had me turning the pages at a rapid pace. The subplot(s) that weaves throughout all eight novels just keeps getting more intense and I find myself once again drooling in anticipation for the next book. *si

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2012

    I've read the whold series and really enjoyed them. They are the

    I've read the whold series and really enjoyed them. They are the kind of books you read late at night and can not put down until you know everyone in the book is alright so it may be 3 or 4 o'clock before you know it. You get that involved with the characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    Favorite of the series

    This was my favirite book of the series, i love all things nautical and this was spot on. I am enthralled by the myths and legends Ms. Richardson brings to life and makes her own...while still keeping us ground in reality. I know she must spend an enormous amount of time in research and it does no go unnoticed. My request for the next book...BIGFOOT!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    Fast paced, good reading

    Another well written book in the greywalker series. This time it revolves more around her investigative abilities. A one day read even though it kept me up late.

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  • Posted September 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was one of the better outings of the series.  After the &qu

    This was one of the better outings of the series.  After the "big bad" arc of books that took our protagonist to England before returning her home, this (and the last book) are trying to grounder Harper back in the real world.  I like that Ms. Richardson is doing that, it makes me happy to see an author do a veritable "re-boot" without making a big deal of it.  She's brought the series back to it's paranormal gumshoe roots.  I, for one, am pleased with the results.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Good read!

    Good read. Characters still interesting like the evolving relationship between Harper and Detective Solis. Story was good but seemed a little slow to begin with but then took off to where I couldn't put it down. A good solid outing for Richardson!

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  • Posted September 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great book! I am so glad this series was recommended. It was har

    Great book! I am so glad this series was recommended. It was hard not to rush through the book. There was so much to absorb. I love how Richardson can put us in a new world as she did in this book. Harper teams up with Detective Rey Solis to investigate a missing boat appearing after 25 years. Harper investigates this collision of the mortal and paranormal worlds with Solis trying to make sense of the events Harper draws him into. I am hooked on this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Great summer read.

    This is another fine story about Harper that tells a fun funtastical mystery. But what I liked best is how she built up the relationships between the characters. Ok so I did figur out the mystery plot line early, but that didnt detract from how the story was told or how much more connected I felt with the characters. I just wish I could learn to pace myself and not devour her books. But to paraphrase my oldest "but its just so goood!"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Very engaging story!

    Kat Richardson, did a wonderful job with this book. Harper finds herself working with Detective Rey Solis on a case involving Ghost Ships, mermaids, and mythical otters. Like all her other books, Kat gives you excellent detail and imagery that we keep you wholly invested in the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Great Read!

    The latest installment in the Harper Blaine books is another entertaining mystery. Love the series. Like all of the myths Richardson uncovers in all of the areas. In this book, the look at the sea, and the myths and legends involved is delightful! Now, write faster, Ms. Richardson!

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    Posted September 1, 2014

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