Title: Among the Living (PsyCop #1)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)
Publisher: JCP Books
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Genre(s): Gay Urban Fantasy
Length: 2 hrs and 59 mins
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Victor Bayne, the psychic half 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.
As with many similar stories, this revolves around the instigation and development of the relationship between two characters with the storyline being used as a foil to test and strengthen the bond. The important question is if there is anything that sets this story apart from the pack? Let’s start with the system of magic; based around psychic abilities and specifically the communication with the dead and truth-sense, it has been done before. Similarly the bad guy is an incubus and it takes most of the book before this is recognised. It is noted that the premise of the book is that this is set in an assumed real-world setting where psychic abilities are no longer marginalised but nurtured. However, the nurturing seems to be specifically for use by the police, although the reasons for this are unclear as the output from such abilities is only accepted if corroborated by a judgemental partner. An incubus, as a form of demon, is not recognised as a psychic ability and so lacks credibility in this world, but then once the Pandora’s box of the supernatural is opened as a premise, it is difficult to see how such lines can be drawn.
The voice actor for the audiobook provides distinct interpretations for each of the characters and this makes each recognisable. They are however somewhat caricatured voices and can on occasion lack emotional content. Consequently there is nothing that sets this performance apart. It is however solidly performed.
The characterisation in the story is developed as the novel progresses, but there is much left unclear, one assumes for later novels in the series. The same can be said for the interactions between characters. There is intensity and passion that is explicitly described, however this feels somewhat at odds with the comparatively thin character development. The reader doesn’t get to know the characters well enough to make sense of the chemistry between them.
This is a relatively short book and as the first in the series it provides a good amount of action that keeps the story moving and holds the interest of the reader throughout. The passage of time could have been made clearer as there does not appear to be anything that differentiates the passing of hours or days.
This is clearly the first in the series and the story ends not with a cliffhanger, but rather a revelation, albeit not that surprising, and a lack of resolution to the plot. This is likely to leave the reader either wishing to read more, so as to resolve the unknowns, or feeling frustrated for the same reason.