(The Disillusionist Trilogy #1)
by Carolyn Crane
Justine knows she's going to die. Any second now.
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 the 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.
Justine is out to dinner with her boyfriend, Cubby, when she sees the man who fleeced her father out of his life savings. Going over to warn his latest victims takes a lot out of her, and she knows that this is going to set off her vein star syndrome. She goes back to her table to say a few last words to Cubby... only to be on the receiving end brushoff. As it turns out, Justine is a hardcore hypochondriac. The dinner was fortuitous, however; Justine meets a man at the restaurant named Packard who says he can help her with her problem, turn it outward so that, instead of being ruled by it, she can use it to help bring criminals to heel. Justine takes it with a grain of salt, but eventually gives in after she just can't deal with her hypochondria anymore. Mind Games is the story of Justine's exploits on the Disillusionists team and how she melds her new self with her current life.
I received this book courtesy of the author herself! (Well, I won a giveaway she hosted. But that still makes her awesome in my book. :] ) It was very exciting to finally win a contest. Since the book was signed - and I didn't want to crack the spine - it took a while to read. But that worked, because once I got into it I didn't want the story to end.
I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book initially - it was difficult to get into the hypochondriac mindset. Once I got over that, though, it was smooth sailing. Justine is a strong character - she just doesn't realize it. Her hypochondria is her weakness, and dealing with a case as extreme as her own has given her a core of steel. She still chases her ideals, however. I agree with Packard's assessment that Cubby is a representation of what Justine wants in life but can never have, someone safe, and that he is only with her because she is his way of walking on the wild side. He's mostly nice in the beginning (aren't they all?) but devolves into a jerk pretty quickly. Packard is a nice guy stuck in a bad situation but trying to make the best of it. Not all of his actions are completely forgivable, but they are understandable. Crane manages to maintain Justine's character without entirely compromising her principles - something that is very difficult to do. Mind Games is a great story, and I hope you all get to read it soon!
The second book in the trilogy, Double Cross, was just released on September 28th. Go out and grab it!
Also, Carolyn Crane has a great guest post over at A Buckeye Girl Reads about book reviews and the relationship between author and reader. It's definitely worth a look.