My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I re-read the first book in the series, Among the Living, by listening to it and quite liked it so I continued with the series. You can see what I said about the first book and narrator HERE. Interestingly I had a similar reaction to the second book but not exactly the same. Whereas reading the book all those years ago in 2009 I found this book less interesting than the first, I actually liked it more upon listening to it. Partly is that I was now anticipating and enjoying the narrator’s voice even more so I just flat out enjoyed listening to the story. I am nearly in love with this narrator’s voice. I think it’s so good and I kind of want to hear anything he wants to read to me. I listen to a ton of audiobooks so when I find a great narrator I want to latch on. That said, I also started remembering more details about the series in general and could anticipate the story some to my delight. Not enough that I knew what dialogue or plot twists were coming but enough to think “oh yeah I remember they’re going to have really hot sex soon.” I still thought Vic made some idiotic decisions but it was easier hearing the missteps through the soothing tones of Gomez Pugh. I finished the story sorry that it was over already and extremely excited to start on the next one. I don’t have much to add to my previous review so I’ll leave it here for people to see but I would honestly elevate the rating up another half star if not a full star for the narrator alone.
My original review
Sometimes proficient authors with large backlists can be scary with such questions as where to start and how to sample without feeling overwhelmed. Thankfully Jordan Castillo Price has made things really really easy for those readers who haven’t sampled her fabulous PsyCops series. When I first read Among The Living, it was offered as a free download to entice readers. I have no doubt it worked since it intrigued me enough to buy the next 2 books immediately. Now that offer is gone but JCP still offers the first HALF of Among the Living for free over at GLBT bookshelf. Now that’s a deal. Additionally her site now makes it crystal clear how the series is to be read and in what order. It truly makes my little reader heart soar with happiness. I mention this specifically because I had commented on such problems when I read the first book. So enough of that – how was Criss Cross you may ask. It was a pretty good sequel, not as good as the first but enough to hook me on the series definitely.
Here Vic, our favorite drug popping psychic cop has a new partner. Unfortunately the ghosts around him have multiplied and Vic’s favorite drug induced coma coping mechanism has been taken away from him. Not to mention Vic seems to be channeling a dead killer while sleeping with his kind of new boyfriend, Jacob. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Jacob’s ex appears to help Vic cleanse his aura and Lisa is calling with cryptic messages from California. Vic must sort it all out before his head explodes or his liver does from drug use.
Told again in first person point of view from Vic’s perspective, the strength of the story relies on Vic’s drug popping nature and his dry sense of humor. The ability to recognize crazy in himself and still manage to function is a cornerstone of the story, and series, when his drug use and instability would incapacitate most people. The story itself is somewhat indistinct and loose and lacks a strong focus. There is a purpose to the action, but the reasoning is vague and limited to the last few pages. Several of the set up scenes are obvious in their intent and Vic’s constant distraction and absent attention can be frustrating. That guy with a chainsaw at 2 am is not necessarily just cutting down a bothersome tree people. However there are always reasonable excuses for each lapse on Vic’s part, even if the reader is annoyed at the lack of intelligence sometimes.
Another of the strengths of the story is the solid characterization and furthering the relationship between Vic and Jacob. Although neither man is given more depth than the previous novella, their relationship is strong, interesting, and engaging without overwhelming the story with sappy, unnecessary romance and sentimentality. The strong, silent nature of their relationship works very well so the focus of Vic’s mental chaos doesn’t overwhelm the story with too many components. Additionally the engaging voice and dialogue make the story a fun, entertaining read and one you don’t want to put down. There is subtle humor, horror, and paranormal elements deftly woven into the setting and characters creating a unique atmosphere and series that instantly attracts and draws readers in from the first scene to the last. The quick pace and dry wit keep readers connected to the story and interested in the outcome.
Although the story lacked a strong focus and meandered along for most of the novella, the great writing keeps this as a fun, must read for the series. The urban fantasy setting is more complex and intricate in this book so that also helps cover the lack of complicated mystery. The wonderful writing, tight descriptions, and crisp pose make this a solid story you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t started the PsyCops series I suggest you do so and I personally am excited to read the next books and hope to eventually get through that extensive backlist and series.