Halloween is approaching when Harper agrees to investigate the members of a research group who've been attempting to create an artificial poltergeist. The head researcher suspects someone's been faking the phenomena, but Harper's investigation reveals something entirely different--they've succeeded. When one of the group's members is killed in a brutal and inexplicable fashion, Harper must determine if the murderer is the ghost itself or someone all too human.
This novel opens in the office of Professor Gartner Tuckman, who is hiring Harper to investigate the potential of someone faking results in the study he has been conducting: using "group-think" to create a poltergeist, named Celia Falwell by the group. Harper has an immediate dislike to Tuckman, but takes the job anyway.
In checking out the seance room that the group uses, she notes that a line of the energy grid of the Grey has been pulled out of place and runs through the middle of the room. There is also a knot of yellow energy centered under the table where the group holds their meetings. Harper also notices numerous odd electronics and instruments hidden around the room. She leaves for home, picks up Chaos and calls in Quinton to take a look at the electronics. After a detailed sweep of the rooms he goes into detail on how the expensive setup can be used to create a highly suggestible environment and simulate ghostly actions. Harper also notes how the one-way mirror between the observation room and the seance room severely degrades her ability to see into the Grey on the other side of the glass.
While Harper and Quinton are wrapping up their analysis of the room setup, they are interrupted by Terry Dornier, Tuckman's graduate assistant, delivering the copies of the earlier seance recordings. He mentions that while Denise Francisco usually cleans up and resets the room before each seance, on Tuckman's orders everyone was to keep out of the room until three p.m. to give Harper a chance to look around. Dornier's attitude, while cooperative is quite abrasive and it is obvious that he is unhappy with Harper's involvement.
As the group gathers for the seance, Harper, Tuckman, and Dornier retreat to the observation room. After making small talk for a few minutes the group decides that their final member, Mark Lupoldi, is not going to join them. Tuckman mentions that Lupoldi is his confederate within the group that was responsible for generating some of the earlier phenomena that helped convince the group that they were making headway. As the group assemble around the table and announce themselves to Celia, several knocks and raps are heard from various points around the room. At Harper's prompting, Tuckman assures her that the noises are phenomena generated by the group, not something orchestrated by him. The group then asks Celia if she is happy that they are there. The response is a thunderous single rap, and then a wild reaction from the table involving lots of energetic bouncing, spinning, and sliding around the room. Finally, the table rears up on a single leg, spins around, and collapses upside down near the observation window. Even through the filtering glass, Harper is able to note red and yellow streamers following the table on it's rampage about the room in the Grey.
Tuckman leaves the observation room to escort the group downstairs for a review of the session, and Dornier brusquely agrees to supply her with a copy of the notes he made during the session. While waiting on this, Harper takes a look into the seance room and notes that the nest of energy that had been under the table is gone, and the gridline itself is fainter, as if depleted. After Dornier delivers his notes, Harper decides to head over to investigate why Mark Lupoldi missed the session, and to see what details he can offer on the operation and the phenomena that he was responsible for generating.
Arriving at Lupoldi's apartment building in the Fremont district, Harper notes that the area is swarming with cop cars. As she surveys the building in the Gray, she is approached by Detective Rey Solis who questions why she is there. Once she explains that she has come to interview the tenant of apartment seven, Detective Solis invites her to come up. It turns out that apartment seven is the scene of the recent murder of Mark Lupoldi himself. The violence of scene is deeply unsettling to Harper, and the apartment is deeply clouded by streaks of red and black energy in the Gray. A blood splattered, man-shaped dent in the wall was the only evidence of the attack. As the forensic examiners begin to bag the body, Harper recognizes his face.
Following Solis back outside she informs him of Lupoldi's involvement in a study at PNU, although not it's exact nature, and that she recognizes him from his job at Old Possum's Books 'n' Beans. After agreeing to keep Solis informed on any other parallels that appear between their cases, and to keep Lupoldi's death under wraps for the moment, Harper heads to Old Possum's herself.
- Gartner Tuckman - Professor at Pacific Northwest University, Harper's client
- Terry Dornier - Assistant to Gartner Tuckman
- Denise Francisco - Psychology department secretary
- Mark Lupoldi - Gartner Tuckman's plant in the seance group
- Ken George - Member of the seance group
- Dale Stahlqvist - Member of the seance group
- Clara Stahlqvist - Member of the seance group
- Patricia Railback - Member of the seance group
- Ian Markine - Member of the seance group
- Ana Choi - Member of the seance group
- Wayne Hopke - Member of the seance group
- Phoebe Mason - Owner of Old Possum's Books 'n' Beans
- Brian Danziger - Son of Ben & Mara Danziger
- Harper Blaine - Heroine of the Greywalker series
- Chaos - Harper's ferret
- Quinton - Technological genius and general jack-of-all-trades
- Rey Solis - Homicide detective with the Seattle Police Department
- Ben Danziger
- Mara Danziger
- Pacific Northwest University - A small private university in Seattle
- Old Possum's Books 'n' Beans - Harper's favorite bookshop
- Harper's Office - Harper's place of business
- Celia Falwell - The identity assigned to the poltergeist created by the seance group
- Albert - The ghost that haunts the Danziger's house
- Cameron Shadley
- Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Roc; Reprint edition (July 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451461754
- ISBN-13: 978-0451461759
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
- Find on Amazon
"Clever ghost-busting follow-up to her solid urban fantasy debut... Richardson's view of the paranormal has a nice technological twist and features intriguing historical notes that lift this whodunit a cut above the average supernatural thriller." -Publishers Weekly
"Whatever you choose to call it, let's hope Harper Blaine returns for many more equally exciting exploits.' -Don D'Amassa, Critical Mass
"An intriguing mystery and a resourceful sleuth who grows stronger in her knowledge of her transformed self." - Library Journal
"Harper's charmingly stubborn, the liminal world of the grey is fascinating, and some of the peripheral characters are intriguing in their own right, adding up to make this one of the most interesting in the latest crop of supernatural mystery series." -Locus
"A sharp, sinister urban fantasy that blends storytelling and real Seattle history. Thoughtful, painstakingly researched, and engaging, this series is perfect for fantasy/horror fans looking for something more than a spine-tingling cheap thrill." -Wordcandy
"Harper is one hard-boiled heroine and detective. Fans of C.E. Murphy, Patricia Briggs, and Charlain Harris will devour this series." -YetAnotherBookReview.com
"Poltergeist is a terrific tale that sub-genre fans will appreciate as Kat Richardson combines the fascinating paranormal inside a well constructed whodunit." -Harriet Klausner