Title: GhosTV (A PsyCop Novel)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre: Paranormal M/M, horror
Length: Novel (111K Words, 379 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK
Review Summary: A tour de force! Engrossing, brilliant and damn scary.
For the past dozen years, Victor Bayne has solved numerous murders by interrogating witnesses only he can see—dead witnesses. But when his best friend Lisa goes missing from the sunny California campus of PsyTrain, the last thing he wants to find there is her spirit.
Disappearing without a trace in a school full of psychics? That’s some trick. But somehow both Lisa and her roommate have vanished into thin air. A group of fanatics called Five Faith has been sniffing around, and Lisa’s email is compromised.
Time is running out, and with no ghosts to cross-examine, Vic can’t afford to turn down any offers of help. An old enemy can provide an innovative way to track Vic’s missing friend, and he enters into an uneasy alliance—even though its ultimate cost will ensnare him in a debt he may never manage to settle.
GhosTV in book 6 in the PsyCop series. Jordan Castillo Price has an amazing imagination which, added to her storytelling abilities, excellent prose and dialogue make for a brilliant combination. She doesn’t compromise, she lets it all hang out for her readers and provides a dizzying ride, but she also knows when to put the brakes on so we don’t miss anything that’s important to the story. Although I love all of her books, Jordan is at her best and most creative in this series which stars life partners Detectives Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks. These books are addictive and it’s not because of the intense, scary plots, the ghosts, or even the way that all the elements are combined – I love the series because of the protagonists, their relationship, and the character arc.
I could give you a couple of paragraphs summarizing the plot but the blurb is pretty clear so I’ll talk instead about the characters.
In GhosTV, which is the longest, most complex and ambitious plot in the series to date, all of Vic’s abilities as a medium are tested to the maximum as psychics, including his friend Lisa, are disappearing without a trace from PsyTrain, a training facility in California. While the action sequences are exciting and the pacing is at times at breakneck speed, IMO everything else pales compared to what is basically the story within the story – Vic’s and Jacob’s relationship, its evolution, and how these two men deal with the changes that are taking place in their lives because of their human frailties and fears. For the first time they are working together as an investigative team and this changes the dynamics between them.
The case is very serious but there’s lots of fun too as Vic frets about his body and whether he’s still attractive to Jacob. A seemingly chance comment made by Jacob’s sister Barbara who hates the fact that, unlike her, he can eat like a horse and never gain a pound – “I always pictured Jacob with someone more athletic” – opened a can of worms that raised the spectre which might have been a deep seated fear he always had that Jacob, who could probably bench press 300 pounds without breaking a sweat, wouldn’t find him attractive much longer. His lack of upper body strength consumes Vic when he’s not worrying about his friend and fellow psychic Lisa. It’s amazing how much mileage Jordan got out of the fact that Vic was so stressed about his lack of musculature, all the time he spent researching how to build a better body 🙂 and agonizing about whether he needed to “beef up” to hold Jacob’s interest. JCP’s humour makes her characters even more layered, and Vic’s first person narration reveals his usual self absorption. I love his character which is such a dichotomy because on the flip side of his seeming disregard for people is the fact he doesn’t have much self esteem as evidenced by the way he almost self destructs by the implied criticism from Jacob’s sister which exposes some of his insecurities. How can someone who plays the part of the cool detective to the limit become such a basket case because of a lack of confidence in his physical appearance? Vic has so many personal issues and is so clueless he doesn’t realize what a terrific person he really is and why Jacob loves him.
Jordan always gets on Vic’s last nerve and here’s one episode in the book that demonstrates this. For some unknown reason Vic triggers an alarm at the airport on the way to California. He is detained and taken to a holding area alone, with no Jacob to hold his hand and calm his fears. Of course he was traumatized and almost hysterical at the thought of being confined in any type of holding facility because of his previous experiences at Heliotrope Station or Camp Hell (you have to read the other books to understand his terror). An old foe, Con Dreyfuss, head of a division of the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program known fondly as FPMP, which had been spying on Vic for some time, conveniently shows up and offers him a deal if he wants to be released immediately. Since Dreyfuss is his sole hope to get out of ‘jail’ quickly,Victor takes the deal with the devil, which places him in Dreyfuss’s power. Of course Dreyfuss capitalizes on it immediately.
Crash, one of my very favourite characters in the series, is back in his role as a catalyst. He has always had the hots for Vic and in each story he does everything he can to get into his pants, which Vic would never allow, but it’s very hard for him to resist Crash’s charms and blandishments as he tries to reel him in whenever they are alone and even when they’re not! In GhosTV, Crash offers to cut Vic’s hair, innocent enough on the surface but obviously for Crash it was yet another opportunity to try and win the man he wants above all others. Where he was concerned everything was on the table in the high stakes game of trying to win Vic.
Jacob has always been a steadying influence on Vic and the one person who knows all his fears and idiosyncrasies but loves him unconditionally. In this book Jacob’s own issues are revealed for the first time in an intimate moment with Vic, which makes him less of a superman and more of a vulnerable human being.
JCP is a brilliant writer and weaving such a compelling and complex paranormal adventure as GhosTV shows her originality in storytelling and makes Book 6 in the PsyCop series well worth the 2 year wait. Where she excels are her characters who are vivid, flawed, nuanced, memorable, manipulative and driven, and the supporting characters aren’t just window dressing, they have major issues and the way they are integrated into the plot is sheer genius. Many new characters are introduced, old friends return (even Miss Mattie makes an appearance) and old foes who use Vic’s dependence on drugs to achieve their own ends. It’s not that Vic is overly trusting or naive, but he gets caught up in the investigation and before he realizes it he’s screwed. One of the most complex characters this time around is Con Dreyfuss who is also the ultimate manipulative scumbag.
As usual there are many surprises, and the finale was like watching and living the scariest horror movie. The end of the book left me gasping for air. A cliff hanger that I didn’t see coming!!
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure, GhosTV fits the bill on all levels. It’s funny, scary, complicated, fast paced, the plot sizzles with twists and turns around every corner and suspects galore, and you’re hard pressed to figure out who are the good and the bad guys. However, I think that some of the best parts demonstrated the growth of the characters – Jacob’s vulnerability and Vic’s maturity (Vic is more tolerant and accepting of Jacob’s family, even Barbara’s whiny brat).
GhosTV is another thrilling ride from the queen of paranormal horror who elevated her game to a new level. Outstanding!
The end of the book left open many possibilities for PsyCop 7 but I don’t see JCP topping this one, however I never bet against someone who always seems to have a winning hand and plays it with skill and zest.
This is not a standalone story and you shouldn’t even think of reading it before books 1 – 5, all of which are reviewed on the site.