Title: PsyCop Partners
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre: Paranormal M/M, murder mystery
Length: Novel (276 pages print)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
PsyCop: Partners contains PsyCop stories 1 and 2 (Among the Living and Criss Cross). In Among the Living we meet Victor Bayne, the psychic half a PsyCop team, 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’s 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..
In Criss Cross, the ghosts surrounding Victor get awfully pushy. The medications that Victor usually takes to control his abilities are threatening to destroy his liver, and his new meds aren’t any more effective than sugar pills. Vic is also adjusting to a new PsyCop partner, a mild-mannered guy named Roger with all the personality of white bread. At least he’s willing to spring for the Starbucks.
Jacob’s ex-boyfriend, Crash, is an empathic healer who might be able to help Victor pull his powers into balance, but he seems more interested in getting into Victor’s pants than in providing any actual assistance.
Among The Living is the beginning of the PsyCop series which has spawned 5 wonderful books to date with a sixth on the horizon and I got my first taste of Victor Bayne at the retirement party for his partner Maurice. PsyCops work as a team comprising a Stiff or non psychic and a Psych, and their job is to investigate homicides. Victor is a Class 5 medium almost at the top of the class of psychics in terms of the pecking order, and he sees and communicates with dead people. As usual, he is high on Auracel an anti psyactive drug prescribed legally for Psychs, but not at the level and rate that Vic takes them. He needs the drug to moderate his psychic gift so that he can remain sane, otherwise he won’t be able to function with all the dead people around him demanding attention.
On his way to the bathroom to dislodge a stubborn pill (the last of three he had taken as far as he could remember) he walks right into another cop, gorgeous Detective Jacob Marks of the Twelfth Precinct Sex Crimes Unit, and the next thing he knows they are in the bathroom getting up close and personal in the middle of the party, and soon Victor is on a high of a different kind. This introduction to Victor and Jacob is definitely not the strangest thing about their partnership – they are opposites in every way but in bed and Victor’s quirks are apparent everywhere.
The case that Victor is assigned requires that he work with Jacob (a Stiff) and his partner Carolyn (a Psych) after his new partner Lisa Gutierrez is taken off the investigation when her test scores are found to be suspicious and she’s exposed as a Psych. The case involves a series of strange murders where there are no clues at the murder scenes and Victor can’t get any help from the dearly departed who normally talk his head off to pin the murder on the suspect. The victims are usually his best sources of information which leads to the identification and prosecution of the murderer. As the team investigates the murders and are no closer to solving them Victor and Jacob become lovers, and Jacob does his best to protect Victor who definitely needs someone to watch over him because he’s out of it most of the time, intoxicated on Auracel and other illegal medication.
As the murderer gets into high gear the danger moves ever closer to Victor and Jacob, and Vic’s paranormal abilities seem to have deserted him because, despite all the dead people hanging around him and talking to him, he gets no practical help from his spiritual friends. Then the murderer sets his sights on Jacob, and Victor has to have all his wits about him which is very hard for him to do while flying as high as a kite. Can he save Jacob before he becomes the next victim of a murderer who is several steps ahead of everyone and seems to know everyone’s achilles heel?
Victor is happier than he has been in a long time because he and Jacob are in a relationship, sort of, but he has new problems that could affect his ability to do his job. While out fishing with his ex partner, Maurice, Victor is freaked out when what seems like hundreds of dead bodies in the water want a piece of him. To add insult to injury he sees them everywhere and he’s getting frantic so he goes to his doctor to adjust his medication and find out what’s going on. He’s told by a new doctor at the clinic who is assigned to his case that Dr. Morganstern is away, and he has to make do with the new one who takes him off Auracel. He also has a new partner at work, Roger Burke, who is very attentive to his needs and even brings him coffee; Victor is not sure if Roger is being so nice because he has designs on his body.
In the meantime, Victor’s life is going to hell in a handbasket quickly as he is totally useless because he can’t concentrate with all the dead people surrounding him, even in his apartment which was previously his sanctuary. Carolyn suggests that he see Crash, an empathic healer, and we get our first glimpse of the charismatic Crash as Victor consults him about his dilemma. Jacob is strangely reticent and reluctant to have Victor see Crash and then it becomes clear why. He and Crash had relationship not so long ago which ended badly. To find out the reason you will have to read the book. Crash even suggests to Victor that they get together and Victor is tempted (maybe) because Crash is so hot!
The pace of the book picks up when Victor starts physically hurting Jacob while he’s asleep, and Jacob has to decide whether to stay with the man of his dreams, and maybe get killed, or move. Victor has no one else to turn to when Jacob goes away on business, so he asks Roger for help who agrees, and it is only as they are on their way to California to see Lisa that Victor thinks that he might have been a bit hasty leaving town without telling Jacob about his plans. Also confusing the issue is Lisa who tells Victor to beware of Jacob. Now poor Victor doesn’t know who to trust and whether Lisa’s advice is credible. He finds out almost too late never to take people for granted because they may turn around and bite you in the arse when you least expect it.
Jordan Castillo Price is one of the best M/M writers today and she gives us two original characters who are so three dimensional that they could walk into your living room, except you might not want some of Victor’s “friends” along. Victor is unassuming, vulnerable, mostly unaware of what’s going on round him, which makes his recounting of the series really interesting (the series is told from Victor’s POV). Most of the other cops and technicians in the precinct don’t know what to make of him and are not keen on his abilities, but there’s one person he can always count on – Jacob. The relationship between them is moving and tender but also hot and erotic as Victor tries to be “present” for Jacob who really cares about him.
This is not your usual M/M romance series that is focused on the romance between the two men, although there is lots of sex as well that’s so hot it will burn you. There is excitement and suspense and the stories are entertaining as well as fast moving, leading to exciting climaxes in both cases. PsyCop is a paranormal and supernatural series with all the scary elements that you can imagine, and then some. The characters are vivid even Victor who is in a daze most of the time; this series would not be half as exciting without him. The developing relationship between him and Jacob makes for some interesting dynamics both in the bedroom and on the job. However, I don’t want to minimize Jacob’s importance to the series, he’s no slouch in the charm department with his looks and personality and his love for Victor. When Victor gives it up to Jacob in the end, the scene is so erotic but sweet and tender; you can feel the love as he surrenders totally to his man.
Wow, what a series this turned out to be. I had no idea when I first started reading these books years ago what an impact they would have on me. Jordan was gutsy when she decided on the two protags and I have to give her props for doing it in style.