Secrets: a Psycop novella by Jordan Castillo Price – review

Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ Title: Secrets: a Psycop novella
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre: Detective, mystery, paranormal
URL: Lulu
Price: US$5.99
Other Information/warnings: violence, noncon (not graphic), explicit m/m, bad language
Summary [from the author]:
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?

My review:
Secrets is the fourth Psycop novella and makes a solid, interesting entry into this intriguing series. All the elements which made the previous three so enjoyable are here – Vic Bayne with his shambolic, somewhat feckless approach to life, and his talent for seeing ghosts which is as much curse as gift; Jacob Marks with his high-powered sexuality, devotion to his job, and somewhat mysterious background; Crash, Jacob’s ex, owner of the ever-useful paranormal supplies store and wannabe playmate for Vic; Lisa, Vic’s precognitive ex-work partner; and Caroline, Jacob’s work partner who can’t tell lies and knows if anyone else is. We learn a little more about Vic’s current partner, Bob Zigler too, though he’s too dull and worthy to be fascinating.

Added to this familiar crew are the side players, the ghosts and the victims, brought vividly to life in Price’s always readable and highly evocative prose. I thought the third in the series wobbled a bit, but she’s resoundingly back on form here, weaving Vic’s personal quest to know why he’s apparently been erased from online existence with Jacob’s increasingly emotional involvement in a sad and revolting case of a dementia patient claiming to have been raped in her nursing home. Lisa’s in trouble too, unable to cope with the responsibility of her gift, and Caroline is torn between desperately wanting to solve their mystery and stop whoever is hurting this vulnerable old woman, and protecting Lisa from Jacob’s overpowering need for her help.

There’s smoking hot sex which gives us more insight into Vic and Jacob’s rather odd relationship, but a lot of surprisingly tender moments between them. They’re settling in together, both in residence and emotionally, and it’s a very appealing thing to see.

If Psycop was a TV series (and damn, would I watch this in a heartbeat!), Secrets would stand as an excellent episode in the canon, with a few dangling loose ends to keep us tuning in next week, but with enough resolution to make it feel satisfying in itself. If you liked the previous books in the series and the characters, you’ll love this. If you haven’t read any of the other novellas, this one will probably make almost no sense as it builds on a presumption of previous acquaintance.

Nicely edited, tautly paced, and the mystery truly engrossing, this novella makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly. Reasonably priced for 56k too.