Subtitled "A Detective Novel
Series," Orchid Jetsam includes two closely related mysteries,
"Orchid Jetsam" and "Clear Land" (the latter dedicated
to the great Japanese film actor, Toshiro Mifune). In the first, San Francisco
homicide detective, Grace Abe--inhabited by the ghost of a U.S. Marine
who had been an undercover assassin--runs as 'someone else' within her
own frame in public spaces where people are out becoming ill in crowds.
The epidemic, which at first appears as much psychic as physical, is caused
by hemlock spread in food and in the public transit system. Grace and
her engaging partners, officers Andrew Chen and Cloe O'Brien, investigate
a series of related killings that are ravaging the city. A killer wears
a dog's head. In the second, another series of killings begins, in which
the victim's intestines are left lying on the outside of their frames.
Detective Abe, resembling a combination of Sherlock Holmes and a wild
comic book character caught in virtual reality, is addicted to a drug
whose effect is a clear elation as she's running. Throughout the book
we see San Francisco at present, seeing it as if we were in a space running.
Seeing through Grace's eyes? One's eyes reading see as if one is running,
which transforms the place.