After Mind Games, the exciting debut by Carolyn Crane, I was very excited to see where the next book would take Justine and the rest of the Disillusionists in wake of the events of the first book. After reading both books, I feel the author does give out some clue in the title with regards to the plot of the book.
Double Cross opens up with Justine taking up her role as a disillusionist real seriously. She is scheduled to disillusion her newest target, a person who makes cannibals out of sleeping normal people, as she goes about her activities. Due to an accident, she oversteps her boundaries and is placed in a situation wherein she has to accelerate her usual modus operandi. She however has been having a few doubts about her work, whether she really should be doing anything about the imprisoned people, her ability to rid herself of her fear is coming at someone else’s cost. Around the same time, a parallel plot thread which opens up is the fact that there is a group of people who have been named as Dorks that are hunting and killing High-Caps, i.e. people with high mental powers like Otto and Packard who have abilities to alter people’s thoughts, wishes, and lives. Thus these dual plot threads are introduced to the reader, and then further more events occur to add to the thickening plot.
All these and much more mayhem occurs in Midcity this time around. There are a lot more revelations about the power of disillusionists, Otto and Packard, their feelings for Justine, et cetera. This book largely dwells on the past feud between Otto and Packard. There’s also the love triangle which gets established between them and Justine which is very reminiscent of the LOST triangle between Jack, Kate, and Sawyer due to similar character personas. Justine is once again the only narrator and in this book, she has been cured of her phobias, however, she ruminates on the “justice” which the disillusionists have been dispensing. The debate over whether her and the rest of the crew’s actions are justified and should they even be doing what they are doing forms a large part of her crisis. Also thrown into the mix is her confusion about the feelings she feels towards the two Alpha males in her life. There’s also the manhunt for the Dorks as they are getting rid of people who are near and dear to Packard, and Packard mostly wants to be done with them. Largely the book has various things going on whilst it rushes towards its fantastic conclusion.
The book’s plot whilst engaging, had a couple of noticeable issues, namely the romance factor is upped this time around. There are no more than three characters who fall in love and then drag the plan into a different direction thanks to their feelings. There's also Justine's quibbling over the morality of her work which strengthens the plot, but can be a bit irritating to read over and over. There’s also the plot threads which, though multiple in number, have been finely coalesced in the end. In the review for the first book, I had remarked that the fine balance between plot exposition and pace was slightly off-key and since it was the debut book it wouldn't be much of a problem. The problem is still present in this book, however not to the same degree; it has improved. The book also has a very powerful ending which helps overcome all shortcomings of the book and makes the reader anxiously await the third and last book in the trilogy.
In the end, Double Cross manages to one up Mind Games in terms of its plot, characterization, and plot reveals. It also manages to overcome the middle book syndrome by having a strong plot with a clear cut resolution, and while it does have its faults, the book will grab your attention and have you reading it with anticipation in regards to its twists. Heartily recommended for fans of the series and for people who want to read a decent urban fantasy series. I think the author will have to be in top form as expectations will be sky high for the third book which will also be the end of The Disillusionists Trilogy. Hold on to your reading chair folks, I expect Carolyn Crane to churn out another winner and end the trilogy in an emphatic fashion.