REVIEW: Badlands by Morgan Brice
Badlands – Morgan Brice
Medium and clairvoyant Simon Kincaide owns a Myrtle Beach boardwalk shop where he runs ghost tours, holds séances, and offers private psychic readings, making a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal. But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.
The blurb grabbed my attention and Badlands reminded me of Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price with a teensy wee bit of that Whyborne & Griffin and The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal vibe. It has the same paranormal/urban fantasy/romance blend as the other series but it has it’s own distinct flavor that is just as interesting.
Although, I was neutral about the romance part at first. But I was also like that with Vic and Jacob from Psycop and now I couldn’t get enough of the two. So the romance. Simon is cute, Vic D’Amato is good looking, they met, sparks flew, one couldn’t get the other out of their mind and so on. Nothing we haven’t seen before until Simon was dragged into the precinct and Vic wasn’t there to back him up. The look on Simon’s face and Vic helpless on the other side of the glass , I was feeling that moment. Hang on, guys!
What really carried the entire book was the unputdownable murder mystery mixed in with the supernatural. As if a serial killer isn’t bad enough, we get a serial killer stealing psychic energies and gaining magical powers from each kill. Although the suspense and mystery kept me turning the page, it wasn’t as tight as I would have liked because the two men’s thoughts kept circling back to each other which was kind of minimized tension from the build-up. The book splits evenly between romance and the rest but I preferred it to be more detective work less thinking about getting into each others pants because people are dying here, detective.
I was in the dark as to who the killer was. I made a bad guess as usual and suspected Jay, the tattoo artist. Stupid, I know. This is why I don’t try to play detective when reading mysteries. Best to just let the whole thing unfold without preconceive notions. Simon, however, would have made a great detective if he hadn’t become a uni professor. When he got some clues, he totally ran with it and came up with a lot of breakthroughs and insider information that unfortunately made him seem like the killer. Hence, him being interrogated by Ross.
This needs to be said, but I think Ross wins the Best Partner award for not only putting up with Vic’s temper all the time, covering his ass from the Captain, being the voice of reason and a loyal friend but also doing ALL the paper work in the aftermath of the debacle. You owe him, Vic. Big time.
As for the world-building, I like how the Badlands world is set-up and that it is connected with books from Morgan Brice’s other series. Myrtle Beach is home to many people with psychic abilities, most of them untrained and keeping low key. Simon sees himself as kind of like their mentor slash caretaker. I like the idea of having a network of psychic spies and I want see the Skeleton Crew in action again in the next books.
Badlands is a strong first book of a very promising series. We have two very likable MCs, an enjoyable mystery and great setting. Morgan Brice vividly bought Myrtle Beach to life with its crowd of tourists, quirky shops and even quirkier locals. I’m definitely in for another visit.
Psycop review here
Whyborne & Griffin review here
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal review here
I received a copy of Badlands from Darkwind Press via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Soundtrack: Psychic City (Voodoo City)
Album: See Mystery Lights