Review – Psycop Briefs by Jordan Castillo Price

Psycop BriefsTitle: Psycop Briefs
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Our rating: 5 stars

Publication date: October 11, 2016
Genre: M/M Romance, Paranormal
Length: 204 pages
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Review Summary:
A must-have for fans of Victor Bayne, the gorgeous Jacob, and the PsyCop series.

Plot Summary/Description

A collection of shorts from the PsyCop series, featuring medium Victor Bayne, who works as a psychic detective on the Chicago police force, and his hot lover, detective Jacob Marks.

Psycop Briefs Review

This is a collection of short stories, tangential scenes and odd bits and pieces that fit around Jordan Castillo Price’s hugely popular PsyCop series. The first thing to say is that if you have not read any of the series before, this is not the place to start. Start with the first “real” book in the series, Among the Living, and if you like that, you’ll want to continue on. This collection is for those who have read at least some, and probably most, of the basic series.

Fans may have read some of the shorts in before, because they have been available either to buy or free on the author’s website. I’d read Inside Out (but I loved reading that again, that is a wonderful prequel to the series, where Jacob first sees Vic in an otherwise tedious meeting); Stroke of Midnight, a nice little window into their relationship; Thaw, with Vic and Jacob bonding on ice; and the Clowns one, which I didn’t totally go for, and I don’t know why. That was the only one I skipped rereading.

There was also a lot here that was new to me, and I lapped them up! Some of the “stories” are so short that they are really just a scene, a little peek into the lives of these super-hot fictional guys. I wondered if some of them had been cut from books, or maybe they were just random scenes that came into the author’s head and didn’t fit into a book. It felt super-cool to have all of this extra information on the characters’ lives.

Of the new-to-me stories, one of my favourites was Coffee O’Clock, where the relationship is just getting established. Lots of cute quotes, as Vic cannot believe Jacob is really into him, so what is going on? “I’d been pleasantly surprised the first time he spent the night. Puzzled the second. Now I was downright suspicious… He was after something. But what?” Vic cannot believe it is him that Jacob is after!

Another favorite was Witness which is set after the current last book in the series, so it’s great for people who have read the whole series and cannot wait for the next book. If you haven’t read them all, it won’t matter. There are no spoilers that I can think of.

We also get some lovely insights into their lives, when they do stuff like helping out Jacob’s one-armed Uncle Leon with his self-assembly furniture, or when Jacob buys one of Vic’s old high school yearbooks on eBay! This kind of thing is what makes it unmissable for fans.

204 pages is the length that Amazon gives. I have it on my Kindle so I don’t have any other way to compute, but it seemed longer. You certainly get a lot of different stories and scenes, and it seemed very good value to me.

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Review – The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by J.T. LeRoy

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things coverTitle: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
Author: J.T. LeRoy
Publisher: Little, Brown
Our rating: 5 stars

Publication date: 2002 (new edition August 4th, 2016)
Genre: GLBTQ, Short Stories
Length: 280 pages
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Review Summary: A very powerful set of linked stories about a boy whose teenage mother pulls him from his foster home and goes on the run with him. Gritty and hard-hitting.

Plot Summary/Description

Jeremiah has spent his life in foster care, until his young mother comes to get him and they go on the run. Life with Sarah is not easy, involving drugs, motels and truckstops, a succession of boyfriends who are often abusive, and constant chaos and confusion. Somehow, Jeremiah has to learn to survive, and find his own identity.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review

This is an immensely powerful episodic narrative. Terrible things happen to Jeremiah over and over. He’s snatched from any secure way of life again and again – usually moving from one kind of abuse to another. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t grow up with much sense of self-worth, but he does develop a strong bond with his drug-addicted mother. He also grows up gay/transgender/queer – I don’t think he ever specifies how he identifies.

I found it very painful to read, because it’s so vivid. Are there really kids living like this? I guess there are, even though this book and the author’s other novel, Sarah, became notorious when it was revealed that the author, who claimed to be a young man whose work was based on his own life, was in fact a middle-aged woman using a family member to act the part of J.T. LeRoy for interviews and such. There’s no problem in authors having pen names, and there’s a long history of women using male names because they know their work will be taken more seriously (George Eliot springs to mind), but using an actor to convince the world the stories are based on real events and the young genius actually exists is another matter.

This edition was published to coincide with a movie about the author, Laura Albert, and her questionable marketing tactics, Author: The JT LeRoy Story. I believe she said that she felt she was “channeling” J.T. and that she didn’t feel like the author of the books at all, so it all seeemed okay. I wonder if she found a way to “channel” the royalties back to him… Whatever, I find the whole story fascinating and have no problem with it.

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