Review: Among the Living (PsyCop 01) by Jordan Castillo Price

Book info:Form: pdf e-book
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal m/m romance/crime story
Target audience: adults

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Victor Bayne, the psychic half of a PsyCop team, is a gay medium who’s more concerned with flying under the radar than in making waves. He hooks up with handsome Jacob Marks, a non-psychic (or “Stiff”) from an adjacent precinct at his ex-partner’s retirement party and it seems like his dubious luck has taken a turn for the better. But then a serial killer surfaces who can change his appearance to match any witness’ idea of the world’s hottest guy.

Solving murders is a snap when you can ask the victims whodunit, but this killer’s not leaving any spirits behind. What’s wrong?

What I liked:

I am not a fan of romance. I am definitely not a fan of m/m paranormal romance. My first impression was I wasn’t going to like it. Vic hops on the first page higher than a kite and not ashamed or worried about it (as he is officially allowed to take drugs). Marks, Vic’s crush, seems at first a bit too power-crazy and domineering for my taste, not to mention the fact that he is a gym rat through and through. I still ended up liking this novel quite a lot, all things considered. Why?

Firstly it was an original idea, to present psychics not as shadowy charlatans they normally are (my skewed opinion of course) but as rare professionals whose talents are much sought-after by different government agencies, police and intelligence services among them. Accordingly Victor Bayne is a PsyCop, working with the local Chicago police force, with the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Imagine that: he arrives at a crime scene and he can actually see and sometimes even talk with the victim. He can’t do anything else but his brains and intelligence make him more than just a level 5 medium. Detective Bayne also investigates and solves crimes – quite a nice surprise.

Apart from that Victor has one of the most fascinating narrative voices I’ve met recently.He’s been through a lot, firstly diagnosed as schisophrenic and institutionalized, then closed in Camp Hell, where his unusual skills were supposed to be honed and developped and where he suffered mental and physical abuse. It left him scarred, perhaps for life. Now he is not bothered by his flaws and moderately interested in what happens around him if he’s not involved. He keeps himself to himself. He is raw honest and not ashamed of practically anything = a flawed hero I like. And of course he has his secrets, not to be revealed to anyone, among them the true scope of his possibilities.

He is paired with Jacob Marks, “a big, strapping guy with a deep voice and a piercing gaze that could nail you to the wall.” It is evident what those two see in each other: Vic, emotionally unstable and physically weaker, is looking for protection against the ugly world around him. Jacob admires Vic’s skills when it comes to the souls of the departed, even though he is the elegant, smart and fitness-club-poster muscled one. Their love story started a bit too suddenly for me (but I suppose it will be explained in more detail later) but then it was surprisingly sweet and steamy for an m/m romance arc. Yes, the sex is rather prominent but the book actually has an interesting plot as well so I became a very tollerant and patient reader all of a sudden.

Finally let me say that I liked Lisa Guttierez – an  interesting albeit secondary character with an unusual gift. I do hope to meet her again.

What I didn’t like:

My slight disappointment with this one was the showdown. Spoiler, highlight to read: so there is that shape-changing incubus which explodes, end of the story. That’s it? Really? That’s all you’ve got? Oh, right…still a little anti-climactic. I wish there was a little more world building as well but I keep in mind the fact that it is just a beginning of a series so there is some hope. Let me also add that the sex scenes sometimes bordered on too descriptive, even gratuitous, but perhaps it’s just me.

Final verdict:

There is so much scope for this author to build on.I have a feeling that if I continue with the series that Jacob and Vic will grow on me…considering that I really do like flawed characters and urban fantasy, even if it comes with m/m flavour.

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