Victor Bayne sees dead people for a living...and he sees them off the clock, too. After all, ghosts don't confine their appearances to a psychic medium's work hours. From the macabre to the mundane, from titillating to tender, these PsyCop shorts feature stolen moments between the novels. Get a glimpse of Vic's life with Jacob between cases, from both men's viewpoints. Gain new insight on their psychic talents by accompanying them on odd jobs, shopping runs and family visits, or simply enjoy some downtime in the cannery. The 20short works range in length from flash fiction to novelettes, woven together to create a novel-length narrative of Vic and Jacob's relationship from a fresh perspective. The stories are gleaned from various sources: anthologies, newsletters, and web, with four all-new pieces to tie the collection together and delve deeper into your favorite PsyCops' domestic life.
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First, the timeline Jordan gives us helps with understanding both the flow and order of these stories.
A Rough Timeline
The PsyCop shorts differ from the main series in various ways: tone, pacing, even subject matter. Some of them don’t fit neatly into a specific slot in the series. Some of them may even contradict small facts from the main books. They’re tangents, really, bits of story that would warp the pacing of a longer book, but things that seemed to be worth exploring.
Coffee O’Clock takes place soon after Among the Living, when Vic’s relationship with Jacob was still tenuous and new. A few months elapsed before Thaw, so it would be set betweenBody & Soul and Secrets. So would Stroke of Midnight, their first New Year’s together.
No Sale is the first story that takes place after they move in to the cannery, so it’s after Secrets and Camp Hell. Most Likely To…, Let the Chips Fall, Off the Cuff and Memento all occur after the move-in. Vic’s baking effort marks their first anniversary together, so Piece of Cake occurred just after GhosTV.
In the Dark, which expands on Jacob’s relationship with Keith, would be their second Halloween together, which puts it between GhosTV and Spook Squad. That would make Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns a future Halloween.
The stories where Vic tangles with Crash happened closer to the beginning of their friendship. Mind Reader would be pretty early, in the Fall just after Criss Cross, but in Jock Straps they’re more comfortable together, so it’s the next Spring, after Body & Soul. Since Lisa is in town with Waiting Game, it happened during the gap between GhosTV and Spook Squad, which was the longest continuous stretch she was in Chicago. In Impact, Jacob is beginning to explore his own abilities, so that’s after Camp Hell. Wood and On the Road are set around the holidays of their second winter, and Vic is at ease with Jacob’s family by then, so they occur after Spook Squad, as do Locked and Loaded and Witness.
Inside Out is a prequel set before Among the Living, but it wouldn’t be as interesting to read it chronologically. I think of it as a flashback episode of a sitcom where none of the characters know each other yet; the fun comes from viewing it through the lens of knowing that those ships passing in the night will eventually collide. These snatches of stories—vignettes and flashbacks, and a few longer meaningful moments that happened when the novels weren’t looking—form a mosaic of Vic and Jacob’s relationship that’s still recognizable as them, but shows the two of them in some new and unexpected colors.
Coffee O’Clock This is a very cute "morning after" with Vic and Jacob. I love how little things bother Vic in this one that we see pop up again and again in other stories. (Like how Jacob is kind of a slob with his stuff!) We also get to see just how important Jacob is to Vic and how pivotal this time period is for them as a couple.
Thaw This is just a sweet little story about Vic and Jacob being cute with one another and very loving. Also – ice skating!
Mind Reader I’m not sure what this was about… but I’ll bet it plays out in the future. A little (weird) interlude between Vic and Crash.
Stroke of Midnight Jacob ends up alone at a New Year’s Eve party at his ex’s house. He’s lucky, though, he ends up with Vic at Midnight. Very cute and the two of them are so sweet with one another!
No Sale This is a quick shopping trip where Vic runs into a knife wielding ghost and Jacob shows us how much he trusts Vic.
Most Likely To… I thought this was a fascinating look through Vic's eyes at himself and a nice little glimpse of the lengths Jacob will go to to find out more/support his love.
Jock Straps On Sale As with Crash in general, I'm not quite sure where this was going... but it was funny!
Piece of Cake Ha! This is a fun look at Vic and Crash and baking for Jacob!
In the Dark This was a pretty fascinating look both at how Vic sees himself as compared to the rest of Jacob's friends and a little bit on morality and moral obligations. Really interesting.
Let the Chips Fall Cute story about our boys buying paint.
Memento I think this is my favorite of all the little side stories. It is an amazingly sweet look at Vic through Jacob's eyes and it just GLOWS with his ardor. He loves Vic so, so much. Fascinating and so touching.
Impact I like seeing Jacob flexing his psychic "muscle".
Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns What an interesting one! I loved the take on the haunted house and the eventual ghost hunt. (The castration zone was particularly disturbing!)
Waiting Game Yes! One from Lisa's perspective! So fascinating. All the wondering. Si? No.
On the Road Mr. Perfect not being perfect, though still perfectly charming.
Wood This is a fun "boys will be boys" side trip where Vic and Jacob are easy in their relationship and having fun. It was a blast!
Off the Cuff A little bit more "boy humor" with our guys. :)
Locked and Loaded I love both the psychic strength Vic shows here and the love he has for Jacob.
Inside Out Technically this is a pre-quel to the Psycop series but I strongly recommend reading it after book one and before Thaw, so that’s where I’m going to place it. You’ll have already read book one, so you know Crash, Carolyn, Victor and Jacob. This is the first time Jacob meets Victor and hears about Crash. So interesting! Witness This was a well crafted short story about a strange training exercise that ends up topsy turvy. And a little hot times! **
For fans of the series, some of these you'll have already read, so it's great having them compiled in one convenient package, but there are others here that are new and so much fun to read!
I’m so glad we get a little bit more of Gomez Pugh doing amazing work and bringing Vic and Jacob to life! The end of the series was hard to see, so having these little clips to re-visit was a welcome gift! As I previously reviewed, Memento is still my favorite of the bunch. Jacob and Vic’s relationship is just showcased so perfectly and Gomez does a terrific job of showing us those feelings shared between them. His dry humor is just spot-on for Vic but the warmth in Jacob’s voice also speaks volumes. I loved having a whole “Lisa” story – I just love that accent! Of course, Crash is wonderful – as usual. And we get the whole host of other amazing voices that we’ve already fallen in love with! For fans of the series, the author and the narrator – this is a must buy! If you haven’t experienced the joy that is this series – you have to start at book one – but you’ve got a wonderful experience ahead of you!
I've already reviewed the ebook version of this, and everything I said there* applies to this edition, as well, but I have to add that Gomez Pugh's narration is always a joy. He gives the characters distinct, individual voices that make it immediately clear who's speaking without making them over the top or ridiculous. Listening to him read the stories in this anthology was like experiencing them for the first time all over again.
*My review of the ebook version from Goodreads/Amazon:
Typical of Jordan Castillo Price's work, this collection of short stories set in the PsyCop universe captures the imagination. I love the mix of slice-of-life vignette and mini case stories; together they give a sense of Vic and Jacob as three-dimensional human beings who are more than just the sum of their gifts or their romance. I particularly liked "Waiting Game," a short piece from the point of view of Vic's former partner, Lisa Gutierrez, that's both an outside perspective of Vic and Jacob's relationship and a peek into what life is like for someone who can know anything they want...so long as that knowledge can be gleaned from the answer to a yes/no question. Honestly, I'd love to see more from Lisa's POV, but I suspect that—from the perspective of an author—her psychic gift is one that's tremendously difficult to write about.
Overall, this is an excellent anthology that I heartily recommend to anyone who's a fan of the PsyCop books.