8 Rated Books Book Reviews Smuggled!

Book Review: Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Title: Double Cross

Author: Carolyn Crane

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Spectra
Publication Date: 28 September 2010
Paperback: 326 pages

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Disillusionists Trilogy


Justine Jones lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she was lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard, who gifts her with extraordinary mental powers—dooming her to fight Midcity’s shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity’s new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men—one on a journey of redemption, the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.

How did I get this book: I basically begged the author for a copy since we are quite friendly (full disclosure).

Why did I read the book: After reading and loving the first book in the series Mind Games, I was really looking forward to this one.


Mind Games, the first book in the Disillusionists Trilogy was one of my favourite debuts this year and a strong contender for best UF series of 2010 (alongside Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series). That first book introduced us to Midcity, a place with a high amount of criminals and high level of Highcaps – humans with mutant “powers” – and to Justine Jones, the protagonist of the series. An obsessive hypochondriac, Justine has started working for a group that call themselves the “Disillusionists.” Under the direction of a man named Packard, the group, largely composed by misfits with extraordinary mental imbalances (rage, pessimism, ennui, addictions), channels that negative energy into specific dangerous and/or criminal targets in order to rehabilitate them. Packard and his Disillusionists are in other words a psychological, neurotic hit-squad of vigilantes.

At the end of the first book, quite a few things has been established. First, the hit squad will now be working for the Mayor (who is himself an extremely powerful highcap). Mayor Otto had been keeping dangerous highcaps under house arrest using his own powers, amongst them Packard, his former friend and now nemesis. But the task is becoming strenuous on Otto’s powers, and in exchange for his freedom, Packard has struck a deal with his former friend: he is to lead his team to Disillusion and rehabilitate those that criminals Otto has imprisoned, eventually releasing them. Justine, who had started falling in love with Packard in the beginning of the first book, found out that by becoming a Disillusionist she would be forever in need to go back to Packard for a zing (or recharge) rendering her effectively connected to him – something he failed to mention when he first contracted her, and this is something she feels she can never forgive. Otto, who was one of their targets in the fist book, becomes her new romantic interest.

Thus book 2 begins: with Justine working for Otto under the supervision of Packard and trying to reignite her relationship with the Mayor. Then, the plot thickens, as a different hit squad starts murdering highcaps and it is down to the group to investigate that threat.

In terms of plotting, book 2 is as strong as book 1, with a mixture of adventure and sleuthing; with the unique group of individuals at the centre of it all. The story is full of twists and not a single of them I saw coming and a couple left me with my mouth hanging open.

But I think that it is with the characters, especially Justine’s moral struggles, that the series really shines. I truly appreciate the fact that all characters are fraught with moral ambiguity and that not one character could be pigeon-holed, or easily labeled. They are all complex, messed-up people. That goes for all of them: the Disillusionists, Otto, Packard, and Justine.

In fact, Justine is an incredible character because she is so messed up. In this instalment, it is less to do with her hypochondria (because it is under control, as one of the beneficial aspects of being part of the team), but instead all to do with the very lack of her hypochondria, and how she has achieved that: because to accept the lack of hypochondria in her life is to accept her job as a disillusionist and all that it encompasses. As a character, Justine somewhat functions as the moral compass of the series. Yeah, so she might not know exactly where North is, but she is searching for it. This means asking herself questions that mirrored my own: are the Disillusionists right in their decision to subvert the law and rehabilitate crooks, or are they in the wrong? Is this form of rehabilitation acceptable, or is it inhumane? How is that a real rehab when the person to be rehabilitated doesn’t even know he/she is going through rehab? Is this form of vigilantism heroic and admirable or just another form of power trip? Those and other questions, Justine asks herself as she navigates both the world of vigilantism and the world of the Law. And, there are no clear-cut answers thus far in the series.

With regards to the romance and the Love Triangle of Doom: Justine is torn between someone that she admires and thinks is the best for her and someone she has a problem forgiving (with reason) but whom totally gets her. Justine’s romantic entanglements do take a front seat in this instalment, more so than in the previous one, but I though this plotline was a perfect counterpart for everything else going on in her life. To decide between the two characters, Packard and Otto, is to actually come to a point of self-awareness for Justine. The moment of truth is when she realises that she too, is NOT perfect. It is decision time and a decision IS made (and I was VERY happy with it), but that decision is taken away from Justine in a most twisterific ending when Carolyn Crane went all Empire Strikes Back on our collective behinds and nearly broke my heart in the process.

I really, really want to read the final installment PRONTO.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Folks, I won’t spoil but know this: on page 300 I cried a little bit, and on page 324 I lost it. Shit hits the fan big time between those two pages.

Additional Thoughts: Carolyn Crane has been SMUGGLED!!! As part of our new feature on youtube (you can check our channel here) the author made two videos for us: one talking about her series and the other one asnwering the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION of all times: does she smuggle books too?

Check it out: Carolyn Crane on her series:

and Carolyn Crane on Book Smuggling:


Verdict: The Disillusionists Trilogy is inventive and original without ever going over the top and losing sight of its very flawed, human characters especially Justine, the force behind the series. Double Cross settles this series as one of my current favourites.

Rating: 8 – Excellent

Reading Next: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

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  • RKCharron
    September 28, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Thank you for a wonderful post (despite distracting typos) 😉 and the video of Carolyn. I’m looking forward to reading book 2! I’m psyched it is out today. (Yay BookDepository)
    All the best,

  • Fit_cat
    September 28, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Thank you for the review. I love Mind Games and I’m pretty sure I will like this one too… But now I’ll have to take a peek to page 300 before starting to read the book. I need to know what’s going on!! 🙂

  • Mandi
    September 28, 2010 at 4:45 am

    Great review! I’m dying for book three…dyinnnnng!

    Love the Vlogs too..that Carolyn Crane is so sneaky smuggling books into her house! 😉

  • KMont
    September 28, 2010 at 6:28 am

    I admit it! I did not read the review! I’m going to go into this one not knowing anything – not even the back cover blurb. Muahahaha! *ahem*

    I did watch the videos though. Carolyn, you are adorable lol! 😀

  • Sophia
    September 28, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Great review, loved this book to pieces. Carolyn, you are so damn cute. Loved the vlogs!! 🙂

  • Dottie
    September 28, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Hi Ladies!

    Mind Games was excellent, can’t wait to read Double Cross.. and the vlogs… LOLOLOL too cute!!

    Dottie 🙂

  • katiebabs
    September 28, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Love triangle of doom? LMAO! Awesome.

    And the twist of all awesome twists has me wanting the third book.

  • Collette
    September 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I loved the first book of this series and am looking forward to the rest of the series but the book smuggling advice video will make me buy all Carolyn Crane books in perpetuity. (So keep ’em coming.)

  • Amber Scott
    September 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I love, love, LOVE this series. So original and so well written. Thank you for not spoiling anything on Double Cross. I’m savoring it slowly, trying not to devour it in one day.

  • Amber Scott
    September 28, 2010 at 10:21 am

    “It’s a bomb.” “Oh, okay then.” ROFL!!!!!

  • Ruth T.
    September 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Grumbling Borders had 6 Mind Games for sale, and not a single Double Cross had all the other new releases I wanted. I’ll try again tomorrow different side of town.

  • Christine
    September 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Following KMont’s shoes, not reading any reviews or blurbs because this is one of those series that I think is tons more fun going into blind.

    I LOVED the vlogs. Very fun–Carolyn is adorable but Mark is SO gullible. LOLOL! 😛

  • Tumperkin
    September 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    What fun vlogs! So nice to *see* you in person!

  • RRRJessica
    September 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    So much fun you guys! But next time, Carolyn, you might try to smuggle your books in something OTHER than the Harlequin swag bag you got from RomCon.

    Thank you for writing a second wonderful book!

  • Carolyn Crane
    September 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks everybody for the kind words and for stopping by!

    (and yes, Jess, that IS the Harlequin swag bag! LOL. )

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglivus 2010 Guest Author: Carolyn Crane
    December 9, 2010 at 12:03 am

    […] Disillusionists Trilogy, Double Cross, came out this year – check out Ana’s rave review HERE. And both of us loved her debut and first novel in the series, Mind […]

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