With Grayling Cross, the sequel to her 2005 novel Touch, Edmonton writer Gayleen Froese returns to the world of psychic Anna Gareau, who has the ability to glean the history of a person or object simply from physical contact, and her cohort, PR specialist Collie Kostyna. Since the events of Touch, the women have settled in Edmonton and become partners both in life and in a private investigation agency. Their biggest client is a quasi-secret society known as the Embassy.
When a teenage psychic with a murky past disappears and their Embassy contact is murdered, Anna and Collie are drawn into a mystery involving a rapacious corporation, an investigator with a skill for suppressing magic, a number of teleporting suspects, and a mysterious house rendered impregnable by magical wards.
Froese’s writing is taut, laced with humour, and as efficient as one might want for what is, at its core, a diverting romp. She never takes the story too seriously, but neither is there any air of dismissiveness. The larger than life characters are rendered with broad gestures, lacking subtle nuance, but this too is appropriate for such an outsized tale.
While hewing loosely to the urban fantasy genre, Grayling Cross leans heavily on its mystery elements, with tight plotting and a couple of good twists. A lighter, less intense take on the milieu explored by Jim Butcher in his Harry Dresden novels, the book will appeal to that subset of mystery readers willing to accept a bit of magic with their red herrings.