Book Review: Carolyn Crane’s Double Cross

Posted May 19, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Carolyn Crane’s Double Cross

Double Cross


Carolyn Crane

urban fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Bantam Spectra on September 28, 2010 and has 326 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Wild & Steamy, Mind Games

Second in The Disillusionists Trilogy urban fantasy series revolving around Justine Jones and her circle of “friends”.

In 2010, Double Cross was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Paranormal Fantasy.

My Take

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…oh boy. The betrayals in this are just…well, just disillusioning while Justine’s whining is so incredibly annoying. Couldn’t Crane have come up with something that wasn’t so irritating?? And for someone as supposedly intelligent as Justine, don’t you think she might kinda wonder why she’s suddenly getting such cozy feelings about Ez? I mean, duh… As for that whole bit about glass being digestible? If that were true, then why was ground glass such a useful assassination tool?

There is quite a bit of backstory about Packard and Otto/Henji’s past. How they got to where they are now. Why Otto would imprison Packard. History with several twists and a haunting look at how much humanity hates different.

At one point, Otto is telling Justine that one person can’t decide who is guilty or not, who gets to go free or not. Isn’t that extremely hypocritical? Then there’s Packard’s revelations. Wow. Turns everything on its head. And that’s not the last twist.

The whole thing is a mix of textual fiction with an underlayer of superhero comics and a nasty dose of conspiracy.

The Story

It’s a race between rebooting the “imprisoned” highcaps and Otto losing all control. And Stationmaster Ez is next up for a reboot. Only Justine is too impatient to wait and inadvertently opens up a conduit for Ez to invade her mind. A conduit that quickly includes Packard that Justine is too frightened to tell Otto about. Complicating life are the Dorks. A three-man “terrorist” group who are targeting highcaps when there is no known way to tell a highcap from a normal human.

There are just enough questions about Ez’s guilt/innocence that Simon starts to explore her background while the rest of the team is concentrating on finding the Dorks. A lead that takes them down several paths that no one expected.

The Characters

Justine Jones is a human suffering from hypochondria, but with the talent to push her medical fears onto someone else. She’s become part of a highcap posse tracking down imprisoned highcaps and rebooting them to refit back into society. She’s madly in love with Otto who has some trust issues with Justine. Reasonably so. Their real attraction is their fear and fascination with vein star syndrome.

Former chief of police Otto Sanchez is the highcap who created the prisons those highcaps he decided were misbehaving are trapped inside, but the mental fatigue created from holding all these prison walls in place is creating problems for Otto. He is now the mayor and still has a strong need to ensure law and order, a very black-and-white view on everything. With some interesting affectations, he’s also just as hypochondriacal as Justine. I think they just feed each other’s paranoias. Covian is Otto’s bodyguard while his assistant, Sophia, is a revisionist who can replace any of your memories.

Packard is a psychology highcap. He can see into anyone and understand their motivations. In Mind Games, he found Justine, the last key he needed to take down his nemesis and get the hell out of the restaurant where he’s been imprisoned for the past eight years. The posse includes Rickie who is telekinetic; Francis is a regular human; Helmut infuses people with despair about current events; Simon is all about gambling and recklessness; Enrique induces ennui; Carter specializes in anger; Daryl is both telepath and jerk; Greg and Rondo are both security surveillance experts and telepaths; and, Shelby is a depressant who gets on quite well with Avery’s paranoia.

Jarvis is the non-functioning, vegetable highcap Packard uses as his bogeyman. Ally is one of Justine’s friends from her dress shop days.

Stationmaster Ezmeralda is a dream invader. Able to invade your dreams, use the fears within your mind, and manipulate you into wanting to please her.

Highcaps are people with an ability, a superpower if you will, that allows them to manipulate people’s minds and emotions, create force fields, manipulate objects…imagine an ability and it’s possible.

The Dorks are a three-man team targeting highcaps. Somehow they know… Avery Koznik is the inventor and owner of the Paradigm Factory.

The Cover and Title

A nightlit scene of oranges creates a mass of lit-up office buildings accessorizing the light snakes of traffic wending along a city freeway system as Justine looks on from overhead. Justine is wearing black, skintight jeans, a fitted white top unbuttoned down to here, and a short black leather jacket with slouchy boots. She’s got one hand tucked into a pocket with her thumb hanging from a belt loop and the other hand holding a short, shiny dagger.

It is a Double Cross in more ways than I care to count.