Title: Other Half
Series: PsyCop: Book Twelve
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Length: 254 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Like a smooth, smoky, complex whiskey, this series keeps getting better with age. Other Half, in fact, has set Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks on such an intriguing new course it left me in awe.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Victor Bayne never saw himself as husband material, but after an undercover stint as half of a married couple, he’s willing to give it a shot. Jacob Marks was eager to settle down from the get-go, so once Vic popped the question, the wedding should’ve been smooth sailing.
But new evidence has come to light that casts a pall over the whole affair: decades of psychic experimentation and intrigue. Vic would hardly be shocked to discover he’s been an unwitting test subject, but it’s not his name on the roster.
Planning a wedding on short notice is challenging enough without a covert investigation. Vic can deal with premarital counseling, floral emergencies, and the world’s most annoying baker—but can he handle what he finds out about his other half?
Review: We’ve all read those series, you know the ones—multiple books in and the characters haven’t evolved, the storylines have begun to feel stale and predictable, you start to wonder if it’d have been better if the series had ended on a high note several books earlier . . .
That, however, does not describe the PsyCop series. Not in the very slightest. This book, in fact, has set Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks on such an intriguing new course it left me in awe of Jordan Castillo Price’s vision, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she foresaw that this is the direction things would go eleven books back, or if this is just some mad-genius level storytelling inspiration that only transpired as the words made their way onto the page. Either way, like a smooth, smoky, complex whiskey, this series keeps getting better with age.
The PsyCop books have never really been known for their sweeping romantic elements. They’ve always been exceptional paranormal urban fantasy first, with the added bonus of endearing protagonists and a relationship that started with a quicky in a bathroom, back when Vic was a drug addict and Jacob’s attraction to him felt more like a kink for his mediumship than interest in Vic as a whole person. That, of course, changed over the course of time. Vic is no longer popping the pills he used to cope with the ghosts, thanks to a little habit demon exorcising, and the idea that Jacob is more attracted to Vic’s ability than to who Vic is was dispelled ages ago with some decidedly sweet and sentimental glimpses of Vic through Jacob’s eyes (see: Memento: PsyCop 6.2 in particular, for reference). The ways Jacob has grown and morphed—from being the Stiff to his former partner, Carolyn, and now to Vic, during which time Jacob has not only become a more emotionally dimensional character, but things are happening that make him a more intensely interesting character too, is the stuff of perfection. It’s what has kept the series sharp and relevant, but Jacob’s growth isn’t a zero-sum situation. Jacob isn’t gaining while Vic loses. It’s a win-win where they’re stronger together, and the concept of two necessary, interlocking pieces of the same puzzle, applies.
So, it stands to reason a book that leads up to and includes Vic and Jacob’s wedding would be a bit more romantic, but where that truly began to take shape was in book ten, Murder House, and Vic’s epiphany that being fake-married to another man was awful and that he wanted to be real-married to Jacob. Getting hitched in a church was supposed to be an easy cover for them to investigate a gigantic revelation about Jacob at the end of Bitter Pill, but it’s through the pre-wedding exercises they’re assigned that we get to see how made for each other they are off the case, and solidifies what we already knew—how deeply necessary they are to each other on the case. They’re the perfect example of opposites attract but, at the same time, they’re two sides of the same coin. And the level of their communication combined with the promise of loving each other through thick and thin was the absolute stuff of romance. This book is, without a doubt, not only a transition for things to come but highlights where Vic and Jacob have come from all the more.
Don’t get me wrong, though; the wedding planning doesn’t go off without a hitch, and it wouldn’t be believable if it did, all things Vic and Jacob being considered. How could it when they’re digging into the past; Jacob is having an identity crisis, for lack of a better term; they’re being foiled in their investigation by a dead man they can’t question beyond the veil; and their only viable witness isn’t in any frame of mind to give them the answers they’re looking for . . . all while dealing with the wedding planner-zilla that is Barbara Marks? Don’t even get me started on the photo shoot. Only Victor Bayne could pull off that kind of comic relief in the midst of multiple crises. And why wouldn’t there be multiple glitter incidents too?
There are a plethora of factors that came together to make this story exceptional, from slice-of-life moments to the things only Vic and Jacob engage in, and it’s all wrapped up in a setting far from ghost-riddled Chicago that should be the utmost in mundane but somehow manages to become a supporting character. There is nothing particularly exciting about the Marks family’s Wisconsin hometown . . . not until we’re talking dark, winding, empty backroads and a woods that conceals a sinister past. And yeah, a ghost or several too. Always with the ghosts.
Thinking about starting a series that’s already twelve books in is intimidating, I know, but if you’ve ever entertained the idea of giving PsyCop a go, start now, because getting to this book and this point in Vic and Jacob’s life is worth the hours of reading time it’d take to get here.
You can buy Other Half here:
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