Jordan Castillo Price – Among the Living (Review & Excerpt)

Among the Living by Jordan Castillo Price

Series: PsyCop #1
Source: Personal Library
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

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.

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You know that moment when you read the first book in a series, and you do a little happy dance because you just discovered something amazing?

I’m so there right now. The only thing better than reading this book was the realization that there is a whole series ready and waiting for me 🙂

It was a stupid idea anyway, trying to scare off a demon by putting him in a bubble like Glenda the Good Witch. What I needed was to a house to drop on him.

It is rare for a book to hook me as quickly as this one did. Perhaps it was the anticipation… I’ve been ready and willing to read the PsyCop series for ages, but you know how out of control a TBR can become. I’m so glad I finally picked up these books!

The paranormal aspects were rooted in a world so well-crafted and believable, I think even those readers who aren’t fans of fantasy could easily find themselves enthralled by this series.

There was a sweet connection between the MCs,
…but no insta-love.
We were treated to copious amounts of incredibly hot sex,
…but the plot took center stage.

Everything was perfectly balanced to create an amazing story. I will absolutely be continuing this series.

Victor Bayne

I was a fifth-level medium. That was almost as high as you could go […] So I could hear, and sometimes see, the dead. And they seemed to sense it and be sure they talked my ear off. Thing was, they never knew shit.

Medium, Introvert, & Charmingly Neurotic.

The story was told from the sole POV of Victor, and I quickly fell for his character. Vic talks to dead people, or rather, dead people talk to him… Whether he wants them to or not. Turns out ghosts are regular chatterboxes when they come across a human that can hear them.

Vic’s talents have made him an indispensable homicide investigator as the psychic half of a PsyCop team. Unfortunately, his partner, Maurice, has just retired from the force, and Vic finds himself faced with the prospect of being paired up with a new ‘stiff’ i.e. a detective without psychic abilities.

Victor Bayne might be a gifted psychic, but he’s just about hopeless in every other area in life. He’s a walking calamity; he has no friends, no family, no fashion sense, and he has a habit of popping pills to keep the ghosts quiet.

He’s awkward… Adorably awkward… He knows it will be a challenge to cultivate a working relationship with a new partner. He doesn’t make friends, can barely make living acquaintances, and lovers? Ha!

This explains why he is completely blindsided when he winds up on the receiving end of a gorgeous detective’s attention.

Jacob Marks

He knows who I am. And he knows what I do. And he’s willing to jack me off anyway.

Detective, Golden Boy, & Surprisingly Adorable.

Jacob is the ‘stiff’ in a PsyCop partnership in a completely separate precinct from Vic. He’s a star detective working with his partner Carolyn – a human polygraph.

When Jacob runs into Vic at Maurice’s retirement party, there’s a whole lot of heat between the two. Their brief hookup in the bathroom ends with a knock on the door – It’s the Sergeant – before either man can process what just happened between them, it’s back to work.

There’s a murder to solve…

When a serial killer strikes on the border of two Chicago precincts, Vic and Jacob wind up working the case together… Awesomeness ensues…

Looking back at the page count – a brief 89ish pages – I can hardly believe Jordan Castillo Price managed to pack so much into this story. It didn’t feel rushed, and not a word was wasted. The pacing was perfection.

The story flowed beautifully – a combination of detective work, sex, suspense, paranormal, and the perfect amount of humor.

The world-building was brilliant, the characters were well crafted, but it was definitely the humor that hooked me.

I’ll always be a sucker for a book that can make me smile and laugh.

I really hate threesomes when one of the participants is dead.

I could have plucked a dozen little quips like that to illustrate the quirky humor that saturates the book.

This is the kind of story that leaves you smiling, satisfied, yet excited for more!

I’m off to read the next book!

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Excerpt:

Maurice was a sixty-two year old black man who had a lot more gray in his hair at his retirement party than he’d had when I first met him. We’d never been close in a way that some partners at the Fifth Precinct are. We didn’t hit sports bars after our shift for a shot and a beer. We didn’t watch the game at each others’ houses. We didn’t invite each other to family functions—not that I have any family to speak of.

Maybe it was the race difference. Or the age difference. But despite the fact that we didn’t connect on any sort of deep, soul-searching level, I was gonna miss working with the guy.

I stood behind the kitchen island and watched through the glass doors that led to the deck as Maurice ambled by. He laughed as he tried to balance a Coors Light, a styrofoam tray of bratwurst and a small stack of CDs. He looked genuinely happy. I supposed he was ready to retire—not like those guys you hear about that are forced out, along with all of their years of honed experience, in favor of some young buck who’ll work for half the salary.

Maurice set the CDs in a sloppy, listing pile next to a tinny boom box and drained his beer in one pull. I wondered if being retired would entice him into a long slide down the neck of a bottle, but then I felt a little guilty for even thinking it. Because Maurice never, ever made comments about my Auracel—whether I had taken any, or was out, or was rebounding after a weekend of “accidentally” doubling or tripling my dosage. Nothing.

Maybe that was the actual reason I was gonna miss him so much.

I turned away from the deck and made my way back down the hallway, and tried to remember where the bathroom was. I veered accidentally into the rec room and a bunch of black kids, mostly teenagers, all fell silent. I nodded at them and wondered if I’d managed to look friendly or if I just came off as some creepy, white asshole, then headed toward the basement where I remembered there was a half bath off Maurice’s seldom-used woodshop.

“That’s him, Victor Bayne,” one of the kids whispered, so loud that it was audible to my physical ears. Not that my sixth sense would’ve picked it up, given that I was pretty far into a nice Auracel haze, and besides, I wasn’t particularly clairaudient. “He was my dad’s partner on the Spook Squad.”

I quelled the urge to go back into the rec room and tell Maurice’s kid that his dad would probably shit a brick if he heard that expression in his home. But that’d lead to a long-winded discussion of civil rights, yadda yadda yadda. Plus I’d be absolutely certain to come off as a creepy, white asshole then, in case there was any doubt at all.

I groped around the cellar wall at the top of the stairs for several long moments for a light until I realized the lights downstairs were already on. I made a mental note to rib Maurice about the availability of light bulbs greater than 40 watts come Monday. Except Maurice wasn’t gonna be there on Monday. Damn.

My eyes adjusted and I took the cellar steps two by two. I imagined what Maurice’s kid was probably saying about me to his cousins and friends. It was pretty plain that I was the psychic half of the Maurice/Victor team, since Maurice was about as psychic as a brick wall, and damn proud of it.

A pair of opposites forms a Paranormal Investigation Unit. The Psychs—psychic cops—do the psychic stuff, just like you’d expect. And the Stiffs—look, I didn’t name ‘em—are oblivious to any psychic interference a sixth-sensory gifted criminal might throw out there. It was rough at first getting used to riding around with a guy who put out about as many vibes as a day-old ham sandwich. But I got used to it, and eventually I grew to see the practicality of pairing us with each other.

Halfway down the steps I reached into my jeans pocket and found a tab of Auracel among the old gum wrappers and lint. I felt around some more, but only managed to locate the one. I’d brought three with me. Had I taken two earlier? I only remembered taking one in the car. Oh, and there was the one I took when Sergeant Warwick came in. The irony. Popping pills within spitting distance of someone capable of cutting off my precious supply.

I swallowed the Auracel, grabbed hold of the bathroom door and barely caught myself from slamming face first into Detective Jacob Marks, the golden child of the Twelfth Precinct Sex Crimes Unit.

He was a big, dark-eyed, dark-haired hunk of a guy with a neatly clipped goatee and short hair that looked like he had it trimmed every single week. He’d always looked beefy to me from afar, standing in the background, tall and proud, as his sergeant praised his work on high profile cases during press releases while the cameras flashed and the video rolled. But up close it was obvious that he was as wide as two of me put together, and it was all solid muscle.

I think I excused myself and staggered back a step or two. The Auracel I’d taken on the stairs was stuck to the roof of my mouth and I swallowed hard, worried that its innocuous gelatin coating would dissolve and give me a big jolt of something bitter and nasty. The Auracel didn’t budge.

“So,” Marks said, deftly swerving his bulging pecs around my shoulder as he maneuvered past me. I stood there gaping and trying not to choke. “Lost your Stiff.”

A comment about the crassness of calling Maurice a Stiff stuck somewhere around the last Auracel, as I realized that Marks not only knew who I was and what I did, but that he seemed to be flirting with me. Detective Marks—queer? Who knew? And besides, he was a Stiff, too.

Or maybe he was just a jerk and the flirting notion was merely something that my mind constructed from the high it’d gleaned from two Auracels and a few fumes.

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About the Author:

JCP Books | Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Facebook

Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price is the owner of JCP Books LLC. Her paranormal thrillers are colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.

With her education in fine arts and practical experience as a graphic designer, Jordan set out to create high quality ebooks with lavish cover art, quality editing and gripping content. The result is JCP Books, offering stories you’ll want to read again and again.

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