“Deception, when it works, is the most elegant and the least expensive manipulation of all.” – Vernor Vinge
It’s been approximately two and a half years since Vic, (our resident über-Medium with the Extra-Grande Psych skills) and the baddest of the badass Stiffs, Jacob Marks, discovered that Must-See-TV doesn’t hold quite the appeal for some as it does for others. Well, they’re back and better than ever in Spook Squad, the seventh (and counting) book in the PsyCop series, in which Jacob’s got a new job, and Vic is trying really hard to come to grips with the fact that sometimes justice is sketchy as hell.
Vic is trying really hard to avoid Con Dreyfus, Jacob’s new boss and the director of the FPMP—the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program—which we’re all pretty sure is keeping a very close eye, and ear, on Vic and Jacob’s every move. Paranoia is fun! And it forces the guys to be ultra-creative in their stealth. Well, F-Pimp wants Vic on the Federal side of the spook biz, but he’s not at all keen on the idea of siding with the bad guys. Or at least the people he believes are the bad guys, and why wouldn’t he think it, considering all the lingering repeaters there are hanging around the place, not to mention one psychotic ghost with a thirst for vengeance? And how about a director who isn’t opposed to playing manipulation games to get what he wants? It’s all a little on the sketchy side, if you ask Vic.
Spook Squad is a chapter in this on-going love-fest of mine in which nothing is what it seems and the dead have all the answers, not that they’re sharing much. Dead men tell no tales, after all, yeah? Only, sometimes they do, but then sometimes the dead would just as soon eliminate a guy than allow him to have his way with her—in only the most metaphysical sense, of course—and there’s one particular ghost who means to get her way, or make sure she takes some people down with her before Vic has a chance to send her to wherever it is spirits dwell once their earth-bound thread is clipped.
Vic and Jacob seem to get nothing but a lot of dead end clues in Roger Burke’s murder, a murder in which the least likely person to have possibly committed it has been implicated by Vic himself. Trying to figure out why Laura Kim was at the scene of the crime, and why her gun is the murder weapon even though she’s clearly not the kind of woman who shoots first and asks question later, is the trying-to-find-a-ghost-in-a-spook-stack mystery that needs solving in this episode.
Jordan Castillo Price has dialed this one up to a full Technicolor, High Def, you’ve-gotta-see-it-to-belove-it read of spook-a-licious intrigue, and Vic and Jacob just keep getting better. They fit, that’s all there is to it. They’ve evolved from Jacob’s near obsession with Vic’s talents to the two of them being a true team. They’re a hand-in-glove fit, and their relationship has grown into something that feels real and comfortable, and I adore them.
I’ve been hopelessly in love with this series since Among the Living, and it doesn’t look like the bloom will be falling off that rose anytime soon. Vic has got some new territory to explore coming up, and I’ll be reading right along with him.
If you’ve been following along on Victor and Jacob’s supernatural stand-offs, Spook Squad is a must read. If you haven’t started reading this series yet, do it now and catch up quickly.
Reviewed by: Lisa