*Disclosure – I received this book courtesy of Carolyn Crane
JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.
Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.
Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.
Mind Games, the first book in The Disillusionists Trilogy, is a trip. It’s unlike any book in the urban fantasy genre (past, present, and probably future). The closet comparison that I can think of is The Signs of the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson.
In the fictional Midcity (a sort of alternate Chicago/Milwaukee), none of the usual paranormal figures exists. Instead, there are Highcaps:
Highcap is short for high-capacity human – it’s a mutation that heightens brain power. A highcap could be a telekinetic, a dream invader, a memory revisionist or a dozen other things. A highcap’s power grows out his or her personality as a baby. –AuthorCarolynCrane.com
The main character in Mind Games is Justine Jones, a thirty-year-old with a debilitating case of hypochondria, who gets recruited by a Highcap with the ability to teach emotionally handicapped individuals to weaponize their neurosis by temporarily ‘zinging’ them into criminals who have escaped the law. This Z-team (as in zing) works together by exploiting the inborn fears/weaknesses in their targets and ‘disillusioning’ them into a mental breakdown in order to ‘reboot’ them as productive members of society.
Justine is a fascinating heroine. Her hypochondria is so entertainingly paralyzing that I found myself looking forward to her next panic attack. I know, I’m a jerk, but Carolyn has such a darkly comedic way with writing these scenes that I defy anyone not to get a kick out of them.
The only hiccup I had with this book were a few of the character names. Justine’s all-American boyfriend is named Cubby…It’s really hard to take anyone named Cubby seriously. Then there’s Pacard, the devastatingly handsome leader of the Z-team. Yet every time I read his name I pictured Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the Star Trek Enterprise. But maybe that’s only me.
It may sound a little comic-booky, but Mind Games is actually a dark, gritty, and sexy urban fantasy that hooked me from page one. I’ve never read anything like Mind Games before, and sadly it will be another six months until I can read anything like it again. Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy, Book 2) comes out on September 28, 2010.
Sexual Content: Several semi-graphic sex scenes, references to rape.
My Rating (out of 5):
Click HERE to read an excerpt of Mind Games
- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Spectra; Original edition (March 23, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553592610
- ISBN-13: 978-0553592610