Victor Bayne learned more about his forgotten past when he got a glimpse at his permanent record. He is dying to see the whole thing, and hopefully uncover more secrets about his past, but Vic doesn’t have the clearance to access his records. While Jacob’s job would give him access, there is no way he could do it without getting caught and Vic refuses to put Jacob in that position. The only option is for Vic to get clearance of his own and the best way for that to happen is for him to move up to a position involving undercover field work at the FPMP.
Vic gets tapped to go undercover to try to determine if an octogenarian named Sylvester Hale, who claims to be a medium, really does have abilities. The man hasn’t passed the tests, but he is insistent and the FPMP wants it checked out. Vic is going undercover posing as one half of a married couple, along with fellow agent Jack Bly. Vic and Jack must move in next door to Hale to see if they can find out the truth. That means Vic must leave Jacob for an unknown period of time, something neither man is happy about, but Vic sees no choice if he is going to get the information about his past without getting Jacob into trouble.
Getting Hale to talk ends up being much harder than Vic and Bly expected. On top of that, Vic learns that his temporary home is a “murder house,” as its previous occupant died in what some think are suspicious circumstances. Rumors point to Hale and the feud he had with the former owner, making things even more complicated. And the more Vic and Bly investigate, the stranger the situation becomes. But Vic is determined to solve the case as quickly as possible because being without Jacob is harder than he ever imagined. Now Vic must work to figure out the truth about Hale and the mysterious death so that he can go back home to the man he loves.
Murder House is the tenth book in Jordan Castillo Price’s fabulous PsyCops series. I just love this series to pieces and Jacob and Vic are one of my all time favorite couples. This story not only follows an established couple, but there are overarching series threads that continue throughout the books, so this one is best read in order. However, if you haven’t tried this series, I highly encourage you to check them out because Castillo Price has created an amazing couple and fabulous world with these books.
This story picks up on a plot element from the previous book in that Victor has learned that much of his background is in his permanent record, something he is dying to see since he has lost many memories of the past. So now he is determined to figure out how to get access, and the best way he can do that without risking Jacob is to become an undercover agent. From there we jump into Victor’s first case, and it will come as no surprise that Vic is at once totally out of his depth, as well as completely on top of things. I really enjoyed seeing Vic navigate undercover work, from the folks at FPMP who set him up with his “stay-at-home douchebag” persona, to his continued attempts to get Hale talk to him, to navigating having a fake husband with whom he must put on a show for the neighbors. The little touches here are a lot of fun and I liked delving into a different type of investigation than we normally see from Vic and Jacob.
The book is quite romantic, even as we don’t see much of Vic and Jacob together. Even though his temporary home is not far from the cannery where they live, Vic can’t contact Jacob and he has no idea how long the case may keep him away. Suddenly, the routine life he has taken a bit for granted begins to take on a whole other perspective when he is denied the chance to be with Jacob and live in their home. These guys are downright pining for each other and it is so delicious. There are a couple of times where Jacob and Vic accidentally run into one another and you can just feel the longing and the tension between them as they so desperately want to be together, but they must pretend to be strangers. Really, this one is just all the yummy romance and intensity and it is just palpable. That all said, I did miss having these guys together more. Except for a couple of accidental encounters, they are basically apart for the entire book and I’ll admit, I wanted to see one of my favorite couples together on page. Instead, we spend so much time with Vic and Bly, and delve so deeply into Bly as a character, I almost wondered if the author was setting him up for a spin off. So this story is super romantic (oh the pining!), but I wished for more of them together.
Where I struggled somewhat here is that I felt like there was a lot of set up and it didn’t all fully hold together for me. We know that Vic wants his permanent record, but after over a year since the last book, I didn’t remember enough about the past revelations to really feel the urgency. Basically, we are told here that Vic takes this undercover work or Jacob will investigate his file for him and get in big trouble. So I needed some reminders and more of a sense of why this information was so important. I also didn’t totally get what Vic and Bly are attempting to accomplish with this undercover assignment. We know that Hale has claimed to be a medium, but the tests show he is not. So the FPMP sets up this undercover op to determine if he is telling the truth. But I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why do they care so much? They are spending presumably tons of money to rent this house, set up Vic and Bly with elaborate fake backgrounds (down to publishing fake articles that Vic supposedly wrote), and are using untold resources to determine if this random guy is really a medium. So again, I needed to understand the urgency as to why this particularly guy was so important to be worth all this effort and it’s never explained. Or how Vic was going to determine if Hale really was a medium in the first place. So this whole set up, from Vic taking on the undercover work, to the need for the assignment in the first place just felt too vague for me to really carry the story. On top of that, the resolution to the case at the end just didn’t fully come together for me. So I still really enjoyed this story, but compared to the intensity and action of previous books, this one felt a little flatter to me.
All that said, I just adore this series and we once again and feel the love just shine through between Vic and Jacob. I loved seeing Vic realize just how much Jacob means to him and how much he enjoys his life with him. It is a nice mushy romance for one of my all time favorite couples.