Double Cross by Carolyn Crane (Disillusionists Trilogy #2)
September 28, 2010
Paperback, 432 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quotes included in review.
While this is a spoiler-free review of Double Cross, there are some spoilers related to book one, Mind Games.
Ezmerelda or Ez has been imprisoned in the coat check she works in for three years by the mayor of Midcity, Otto Sanchez. Once Ez touches someone, she can link to that person and invade their dreams – causing them to do violent acts (violent as in cannibalism) while sleepwalking. Now that Otto has her imprisoned behind invisible shields, she hasn’t touched anyone for years. Justine Jones, who has just started dating Otto comes into the picture to disillusion Ez. Working under the highcap (someone with special powers) Sterling Packard, Justine and her fellow disillusionists strip down these criminals, until they have nothing, and then build them back up – hopefully making them better people. Justine’s specialty is hypochondria, often fearing she is going to dye from a rare brain disorder. Stoking up that fear, Justine is able to “zing” her fear into the target, allowing Justine to revel in a fear-free glory hour and watch the target slowly succumb to the darkness. It is during one of these zinging sessions that Justine touches Ez, while she is also touching Packard, and now Packard and Justine are linked – and Ez will be able to invade them in their dreams until she is stopped.
Meanwhile, a group of people called “The Dorks” (Otto refuses to let criminals have cool names, coming up with a list of pre-chosen names, like hurricanes, to call criminals) have been shooting highcaps. They somehow can determine who is a highcap and who is not. Worse, they are immune to highcap powers. Justine is worried Packard or Otto who are both highcaps could be a target – but she can’t decide which one she is worried more for. She wants to be with Otto who stands for everything she believes in, but Packard, with his intense vibe draws her back time and time again. Packard and Otto also both share a very dark secret, one that is coming to light now that Justine and Packard are sharing dreams.
When I mentioned on Twitter that I was starting Double Cross, someone tweeted who had already read the book and said “It’s Brutal!” and she meant it in the best way possible. That word stuck with me as I read and I can honestly say that is the perfect word to describe this book. Knowing this series is a trilogy, and that this is book two, I knew Carolyn Crane would give us a bumpy road – but I was not expecting what happened.
Justine is not cut out to be a criminal or deceitful. It drives her mad that she is trapped as Packard’s minion, forced to do his bidding. In book one, she learned if she doesn’t zing her fear into him or a target on a regular basis, she will end up in a vegetative state. Although Justine is angry at Packard, she is also free of her debilitating hypochondria. Also, there is such an underlying intense attraction between them – something that can’t be ignored no matter how hard Justine tries. But, Justine wants to see the good in people – and that is hard to do with Packard. Otto walks into her life full of hope. He likes people to believe in him, and then he returns that faith. Justine gets sucked in and likes it. She wants that safe life with him – at least that is what she tells herself. Justine wants to be with Otto, but it is almost like Packard is a magnetic field, and she just gets pulled his way time and time again.
I think the mystery is done really well in this one. There is such a creepy vibe when it comes to Otto trapping people in his invisible prisons. Although Ez is accused of heinous crimes, Otto is both judge and jury when it comes to declaring these prisoners guilty, and the question arises in this book, if Ez is actually innocent. This just adds another layer of guilt onto Justine’s conscious about her role of a disillusionist.
And what I love most is that Carolyn Crane twists things around so the outcome is just not what you expect. There is so much grey area with both Packard and Otto – and she exploits it to the fullest extent. She is relentless in giving us these two men where you just don’t know where she is going to take them. I loved every second of it. Justine’s interactions with each man is so different too. For example, Justine and Otto:
“Justine. The mayor needs to maintain a certain amount of decorum with the citizens.”
I smile. “I hope not with all citizens.”
“oh no, I assure….” Here Otto lowers his voice. “The mayor entertains distinctly unmayoral thoughts regarding a specific citizen.”
My pulse races.
“The other citizens,” he says, “would be scandalized.”
“Well!” I say. I can’t think of a clever comeback. Sometimes I’m like that with him.
While Justine and Otto have a fun, flirtatious relationship, when she is with Packard, it is notched up to an entire different level:
“And I touched you.” He runs a finger along his side of the cart. “Your skin was electric – I half thought there should be sparks.” He lowers his voice. “I know you felt it . You looked so beautiful. And then you came closer.”
He starts to roll the cart sideways. I clamp down hard on my side, stopping it, shocked that he’d talk so dirty in an office superstore. Then I realize that he hasn’t said anything dirty at all.
The disillusionist gang is back for this one too. Her supporting characters add so much to these books. We get such great things with Otto, Packard and Justine, but each supporting character is so well created – each with their different neurosis, they make me laugh, and they each have their own special spot in this story. They have become Justine’s family.
I don’t want to say much else. Oh wait – I do! You meet dashboard Gumby in this book. He might be my favorite character. You will have to go forth and read to meet him.
Go read the book, freak out, and be sure to tell me all about it.
Double Cross is one of the most original, well written urban fantasies I have read. The wait for book three will be torture.