Harper Blaine, a private investigator in Seattle, takes on a lot of clients and as the book opens, she's trying to get paid by one. He beats her up and she wakes in the hospital, finding out that she'd beeen dead for two minutes. She has some odd visions, thinking of them as cold steam fog, and after rational medical treatments don't work, she's referred to a witch. It turns out that by inhabiting the Grey, the place between life and death where vampires, ghosts, and other supernatural beings exist, for those two minutes, she can now move through and see the Grey.
Two of her clients turn out to be related to the Grey and she feels she must finish those jobs but is pulled more and more into the Grey, becoming more and more exhausted. In more pain as she comes closer to understanding, she eventually involves vampires, ghosts, a necromancer, the witch, and a really nice geek in solving the overweening problem. During that, she accepts the Grey and feels better.
Seattle is portrayed truly in this book, you feel like you're there. The cover, by Chris McGrath, is fabulous not only in execution but insinuation. Harper spends most of the book being a "stubborn, hardheaded, scientific practicalist," not believing what's happening even as she experiences it, and this comes across as very real. There is a short skim of romance -- I would have picked the geek.
As to the enlightenment, when Harper first sees the cold steam fog, I thought that's what I call "wrapped in cotton wool" and I was ready to tell Kat that. But when I was most of the way through the book, I realized that I had also been reading it as an allegory to my being sick. The Grey, the space between life and death, is my diseases and conditions. I didn't believe early on that I would be disabled. I was sure I was going back to work, no matter what happened to me. I eventually "accepted my disease" and have been able to work from that standpoint. I still don't like the Grey, but I'm inextricably stuck in it and, like Harper, will have to deal with it.
I'm looking forward to more stories about Harper.