Criss Cross by Jordan Castillo Price
Series: PsyCop #2
Source: Personal Library
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Criss Cross finds the ghosts surrounding Victor getting 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.
Poor Vic can’t catch a break…
Not only had my reality become more Dawn of the Dead than I was accustomed to, but suddenly all the hungry cadavers were acting like I was in possession of the world’s last brain…
When your life revolves around talking to ghosts to solve murders, how can you tell when things are getting out of hand?
For Victor, the answer is quite simple: All the ghosts which used to chat him up are becoming a bit grabby… And they’re everywhere.
The delicate hold Vic had on sanity is slipping…
In the previous book of this series, Victor couldn’t hardly find two ghosts to rub together to solve a case. In this book, he’s having quite the opposite problem… And ya know, a lot more problems on top of that… Because for the first time, Vic has a life outside of work…
“That’s what’s wrong with Psychs,” I said. “The sixth sense doesn’t match up with the other senses, so anything we describe comes out flawed. It’s like trying to describe how purple smells, or what pain sounds like.”
The sudden increase in paranormal activity isn’t a huge deal at first. Victor is the kinda guy who has no problem taking a side of Auracel with his Auracel in order to make the spirits go away. Unfortunately, Vic has to stay off the pills, Doctor’s orders, and doesn’t that just put the last nail in this undead coffin?
Turns out Vic’s liver is none-too-happy about his habit of taking WAY more than the recommended dose of Auracel and now he has to go clean for the foreseeable future.
Even Vic’s boyfriend is suffering…
I probably should’ve just trusted him. Maybe I did. Maybe it was me that I couldn’t trust. […] I wondered if I was ever totally present for Jacob, or if he always had to search for the real me between the cracks of all the drugs I took…
Sweet, steady, Jacob… I’m beginning to think Jacob is the perfect person for Vic, but I’m not so sure Vic is the best person for Jacob. Vic has been lashing out in his sleep – violently attacking Jacob, but waking with no memory of the event…
Jacob’s partner Carolyn decides that Victor needs to visit an Empathetic Healer… After all, Vic’s problem is a ghost problem, not a drug problem, right? Unfortunately, going to the healer puts Vic face-to-face with an entirely different kind of of specter: Jacob’s Ex-Boyfriend (*dramatic music plays*) – Crash, the punked-out no-nonsense healer is
a) Kind of an asshole
b) Doesn’t believe Vic is an actual Medium
c) Vic’s only hope if he wants the ghosts to go away without drugs
On top of all that, Vic is trying to wrap his brain around the multitude of changes in his life…
New Uncool Sobriety,
New swarming ghost problem…
Just another day in the life of a PsyCop…
Until Lisa (Vic’s former partner) starts calling him from her PsyTraining facility and warning him not to trust anyone. Even Jacob…
This installment of the series layered in quite a bit more suspense, which was lovely. I’m also appreciating the dynamic between Vic and Jacob as I see more of their relationship unfolding. I’d definitely like to see more info on Jacob… Maybe some backstory? Hey, I’ve got the whole series ahead of me, I’m sure I’ll get oodles more info on both my guys 😉
I’m off to read the next book!
It was a pretty good day, for October in Chicago. The weather was warm enough that I could get away with wearing just jeans, a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, and my threadbare jean jacket. I could see my breath as we set the rowboat in the water, Maurice in his knee-high rubber boots, steadying the small aluminum boat so I could climb in. Water squished through my black Converse high-tops. Not the best shoes to wear fishing, I gathered.
But I’d never been fishing before, so how the hell would I know?
Maurice heaved himself over the side, thrust an oar into the slimy green water on the bank of the Calumet, and shoved off. And he did it with an ease that reminded me that even though he was graying, he was still in reasonably good shape.
Maurice Taylor had been my partner in the PsyCop Unit for a dozen years, and now he was retired. We’d been quintessential opposites when the force had matched us up: him, a mature black man without a lick of psychic ability, who’d inched his way up to detective with years of hard, honest police work. And me, an impulsive white kid with no friends, whose sixth sense was always tuned to eleven unless I was on an anti-psyactive drug cocktail.
Maurice was still old. And he still had his common sense, far as I could tell. Me? I wasn’t a kid anymore, but at least I’d managed to make a few friends. Other than that, I couldn’t really vouch for myself.
“Give that oar over here,” Maurice said, stretching his hand out to me. “We be goin’ in circles all day, if I let you just splash it all over the place like that.”
I didn’t argue. Maurice is more stubborn than I am. I know this.
Maurice took several deep breaths as he rowed us farther from shore. The Calumet’s current wasn’t particularly fast in the fall. It had pockets of reedy marsh along the banks that seemed like ideal places to just sit in your boat and while away the day. A train clanged by to the north of us and the scream of a siren drifted by from a stretch of elevated highway. Nature.
“Smell that fine air,” Maurice said.
I grunted. It smelled like algae and exhaust fumes to me.
Maurice pulled a few more strokes with the oars and then eased our anchor—a hunk of metal that’d been part of a barbell in another existence—over the side.
“Shouldn’t I have, uh…a lifejacket on?”
Maurice smiled and started fiddling with his rod. Or reel. Or whatever the fishing pole thing is called. “S’okay, Victor. Water ain’t but waist high.”
I glanced over the side of the boat. The water was opaque green. Hard to tell if Maurice was exaggerating.
He put the fishing pole in my hand and pulled out another. “Just set there and wait until I show you how to cast. Else you’ll tear your eye out with the hook.”
I looked down at the hook. Maurice had squished a worm onto it. A worm spirit didn’t appear and immediately start telling me about the moment of its death, so I presumed I was safe from the spirits of bugs. But then it moved and I realized it was still alive. Gross.
Maurice cast his own line with a fairly straightforward explanation of what he was doing, then exchanged it with me for the first fishing pole, which he also cast.
I stared out at the little red floaty things that marked where our hooks had sunk and waited for more instructions.
Maurice wedged his fishing pole into a groove on the floor of the boat and unzipped his duffel bag. He pulled out a thermos and a battered plastic travel mug.
“What next?” I asked him.
Maurice poured some coffee into the mug and handed it to me. The early morning sunlight filtered through the steam that curled up from the surface of the coffee, and I felt like the two of us were in a Folgers commercial. Maurice poured another cup for himself, screwed the stopper back onto the thermos, and sighed. “We wait,” he said.
I noticed he was smiling, a soft, kind of distant smile as he gazed out over the water, conveniently ignoring the beer cans and plastic shopping bags that floated around us. Retirement suited him.
We drank our coffees together in silence, and we stared at the water while I tried to control the shivering, me sitting there in wet canvas sneakers in October. It was warm for October, but not that warm. I wedged my fishing pole into the groove in the floor as I’d seen Maurice do and poured myself another coffee. I contemplated pouring out the rest of the contents of the thermos onto my freezing cold feet, but I figured it would only feel good for about a minute, and then the coffee would cool and pretty soon my feet would just be wet again. I saved the coffee for drinking, instead.
“So,” Maurice said, after he finished his coffee. “Warwick find you a new partner yet?
“Yeah, a couple days ago. Some guy. His name’s Roger Burke.”
I really couldn’t think of much to say about Detective “please, call me Roger,” Burke. He was kinda like white bread. When I was a teenager, I would have been pretty eager to get him down my throat. But now that I was looking at forty, I found him a little bland.
Don’t get me wrong, Roger was cute. He had a ready smile that he lavished on me at the drop of a hat. His thick hair was naturally blond, cut short and smart. His eyebrows and eyelashes were a darker blond, framing greenish hazel eyes.
I’d never seen him in anything less than a sport coat, but judging by the way it sat on his shoulders and buttoned smoothly over his nipped waist, I was guessing he probably exercised regularly, and was hiding a set of washboard abs under his perfectly pressed dress shirt.
It was difficult to say if he’d pitch for my team or not. Once upon a time I assumed that all the other cops except for me were straight. That was before Detective Jacob Marks cornered me in the bathroom at Maurice’s retirement party.
I was still too fixated on Jacob to really give a damn if Roger Burke slept with men, women, or inflatable farm animals, for that matter.
About the Author:
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.