Title: Agent Bayne (PsyCop: Book Nine)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Length: 279 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: The true testament of the adroit storytelling here is Jordan Castillo Price’s disappearance into her narrator. Victor Bayne may not be great at the communication, but he tells one helluva story.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Victor Bayne is through with the Chicago PD. Can he handle the FPMP?
After years of frustration as a PsyCop, Victor Bayne reports for duty at the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program. As a fledgeling agent, he’s ready to smoke out a few ghosts and be home each night in time for dinner. But is he prepared to add a professional dimension to his romantic partnership with Jacob Marks?
Jacob has already established his territory in the Program—he’s competent, he’s respected, and he’s pretty much fearless. The last thing Vic wants to do is screw up in front of him.
When fellow agents start turning up dead, Vic is expected to do more than just lay their ghosts to rest. But what if his psychic talent isn’t quite enough? As the death toll rises, he and Jacob scramble to determine who’s in danger, and who’s a killer.
Using all the resources at their disposal, they close in on their suspect. But as they do, their past comes back to haunt them…and even Jacob worries they’ve tampered with forces they should have left alone. Are their combined talents enough to protect them from enemies both living and dead?
Review: It’s been eight years since I picked up Among the Living, book the first in the PsyCop series, and eight years since I discovered that author Jordan Castillo Price had not only brought two fantastic protagonists to life, but that she’d done so with intricate detail and precise execution in an alternate reality that isn’t only intense and densely woven but is also a love story tucked in between murder investigations and ghost encounters on the streets of Chicago. Every time I open a PsyCop book and Vic starts speaking, it’s like hopping back into the middle of a chat with an old friend—albeit a usually oddish, non-sequitur sort of conversation—but no matter how long it’s been, I fall back in sync with him in no time at all.
Much like real estate, Victor Bayne’s ability to track down a ghost is about location, location, location. Agent Bayne, formerly Detective Bayne of the Chicago PD’s Fifth Precinct, is the new kid on the block at the FPMP. Con Dreyfuss is out, Laura Kim is in as the new Director, Jacob is in the ‘Oversight Division’ now, and just when Vic thinks he’s found a place to fit in, where cops won’t give him the side-eye or steer clear of him altogether because they’re creeped out by him, things start to go arse over tea kettle.
And that’s just on his first day.
I love that things feel as if they are starting to converge now, past meeting present. From the bad old days at Camp Hell, to discovering Stefan’s betrayal, to Dead Darla being called in from the Indianapolis F-PiMP office to work with her nemesis Hardcore Vic, it feels as if we’re reaching a turning point. And Darla and Vic working together turns into so much more than first intended. Darla is still grinding an old ax from the Heliotrope Station days, and poor Vic… He’s not great at the communication, which is such a brilliant dichotomy in his characterization because he always tells us readers one helluva story. He also struggles to remember things from his past, which causes the tension between him and Darla to continue festering. When they’re saddled together to figure out who murdered two FPMP agents, it’s going to take man hours, cooperation, and their vast metaphysical powers to find the killer.
When it begins to look like the murders are an inside job, who’s pulling the strings, and why, eludes the team, and when readers get an inkling of who the mole is, the cat and mouse of it adds to the fun and tension of watching the investigative team pick up on the cues and clues, and then catch up with us. The supernatural scenes are described with a dynamic awareness that has made me a long-time fan of both the author and this series. Everything is so fully realized and detailed without it ever being cumbersome.
While Vic is decidedly the established hero of this series, one of the best character evolutions has to be that of Jacob Marks. Beginning as a Psych groupie, and Crash’s former boyfriend, Jacob is the sexy steamroller who insinuated his way into Vic’s life from the moment they…‘met’ in the bathroom at a retirement party for Vic’s former partner, to moving in with Vic a week later, to discovering he’s not your run-of-the-mill Stiff (Non-Psych). For so long, Jacob has come across as rather impervious to the supernatural goings-on that he and Vic confront on a daily basis, but we see now that he’s reached a point where his armor has developed a chink which makes him just a bit more vulnerable to his emotions, and I loved it. Jacob, along the course of these books, has become the one man Vic trusts, unequivocally, and it’s that trust that says so much about Jacob. When we try to pin down the broad definition of romantic, where Victor Bayne is concerned, it’s when he tells Jacob he trusts him. That’s worth more than any ‘I love you,’ because, from a deeper emotional perspective, Vic doesn’t give up anything easily, least of all his trust, and Jacob has just kept earning it over and over again.
The true testament of the adroit storytelling here, however, is the author’s disappearance into her narrator. Victor Bayne is given full agency, is a fully realized character who’s motivated by external voices and events to draw the listener into his story. Something that, in reality, would probably make him feel uncomfortable, being the center of our attention, and is one of the reasons I love him—that in his efforts not to draw attention to himself, we readers are drawn to him in every single way.
There are any number of couples out there—those characters we love, the ones who, when we mention them by first name, everyone else knows exactly who we’re talking about—Vic and Jacob are that couple. The completionist in me is salivating for the revelations and events that will bring this series to a close. The sentimentalist in me will be crushed to see this series comes to its natural conclusion. That time isn’t yet, though, and cripes, that makes me happy.
You can buy Agent Bayne here: