Early Review: Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

March 19, 2010 Uncategorized 11

*Disclosure – I received this book courtesy of Carolyn Crane


Book Description:

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

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Original edition (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592610

Disagree with my review?  Email me your review for this or any other book I’ve reviewed and I might use it for 2nd Opinion Review

11 Responses to “Early Review: Mind Games by Carolyn Crane”

  1. Cecile

    I am so glad to see that the few reviews I have read this morning are giving this book great reviews!! That is awesome and I can not wait to get my own copy!
    Great review!!!!
    Happy Friday!

  2. SandyG265

    Glad to know it's good. I have a copy I won from the author sitting on my TBR pile. I'll have to move it up to the top.

  3. Sullivan McPig

    Packard – Picard
    I don't see the problem, but then again I never was much of a Star Trek fan.
    This book is high on my must buy and read list anyway.

  4. Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy]

    Heather – Oh good. That's what I was hoping to get across: go read this book!

    Cecile – I haven't seen a bad review for this one yet. It is excellent.

    SandyG265- This one definitely is worthy of the top of TBR pile.

    Trillian- Fab is the word 🙂

    Tynga – I think you'll love it. I'll look forward to your review.

    Sullivan – Oops! You're right that they are spelled differently, but it still caught me up.