Secrets by Jordan Castillo Price
Victor Bayne’s job as a PsyCop involves tracking down dead people and getting them to spill their guts about their final moments. It’s never been fun, per se. But it’s not usually this annoying.
Vic has just moved in with his boyfriend Jacob, he can’t figure out where anything’s packed, and his co-worker is pressuring him to have a housewarming party.
Can’t a guy catch a break?
On a more sinister note, Vic discovers there’s absolutely no trace of him online. No trace of anyone else who trained at "Camp Hell," either.
Everyone Vic knows has signed a mysterious set of papers to ensure his "privacy." The contracts are so confidential that even Vic has never heard of them. But Jacob might have.
What other secrets has Jacob been keeping?
The fourth book in the series harkens back to the style of the first and creates addictive dialogue, entertaining prose, and a quick pace to the story that is as engaging as the first in the series. Although the last two books had some plot problems – weak and unfocused – this particular offering combines Vic’s work with Jacob’s and allows the focus to tighten with great results. The focus on Vic and Jacob’s relationship alongside a case they are both working on allows both the police/ghost case to shine while looking deeper at their relationship. For fans of the series, you won’t want to miss this installment but those new to the series should start at the beginning. Readers can read this as a stand alone, enough information is reiterated so readers won’t be lost, but the depth and context are greater in the series.
Here Vic and Jacob have moved in together but before they can unpack Jacob is called in on a sex crime at a retirement home but with a twist that may need Vic’s special talents. In the meantime, Vic is left wandering around their home with barely any idea of how to unpack or what to do with himself. This leads to trouble of course and Vic realizes that everyone around him is “in” on the secret to keep him a mystery and hidden. Between the pill popping, the investigation into Vic’s online presence (or lack thereof), and Jacob’s new mystery case, the two are in over their heads in ghosts, secrets, problems, and potential pitfalls.
The police case in this particular offering is much tighter and more interesting than the past two books. Jacob’s rape case in the retirement home leads to some paranormal action and thus Vic and a surprise cameo of Lisa must work with Jacob and Carolyn to find some answers. The fact that the police case allows all four to work together helps keep a tight focus and quick pace to the story without wandering off in any one direction. The problems and issues Jacob and Vic face from jealousy to lies to uncomfortable conversations are not a separate tangent as in the other books but tightly woven into the main police case. Whereas in the past the various cases Vic worked on felt inconsequential and forgettable, the force of Jacob’s dynamic personality combined with the chemistry between Jacob and Vic to give a more interesting and riveting narrative. This keeps the pace consistent from scene to scene without needing too many side trips.
The relationship between Vic and Jacob also gains more depth as previously I’d worried that Jacob seems to only be with Vic because of his psychic abilities. Clearly this is part of Vic’s appeal for Jacob but considering the absolute mess Vic is, there has to be an appeal somewhere besides good sex so I’m not as uncomfortable with the theme as in previous books. Instead the mistakes and flaws Jacob exposes are refreshing and humanizing, showing a man with more texture and interest than the perfection Vic sees. Vic is slowly gaining insight into his talent and finally the need for control – other than pharmaceutical based – is sinking into his head.
The writing is good with few awkward pauses and information dumps. There is enough reiterated information that a new reader won’t be lost and old readers can catch up but less jarring commentary. Instead the dialogue and prose keep the story moving quickly and easily with Vic’s engaging voice and first person narration. The pill popping, ghost hunting, and relationship challenges make for a thoroughly entertaining story and the mixture of all of those into one tight, cohesive plot makes this one of the best in the series. Be sure to pick up this series if you haven’t, it’s quick and composed entirely of novellas so each fast story is a delight.
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