Precog in Peril Series by Theo Fenraven
Blurb: Gray Vecello and Cooper Key are back in the exciting sequel to Three of Swords. Graham’s treasure is only the tip of the iceberg as a thief helps himself to a hidden stash of cash, Jolly Roger makes another appearance, and the guys finally meet others with special abilities when an emergency meeting of the group is called.
Accompanying them on this new adventure is Gray’s cousin, Harper, who’s having problems of her own. Peace and quiet will have to wait as they take another trip downriver on their houseboat, The Constant Companion, before flying to New York City to beard a lion in his den and unexpectedly meet the SOS.
Review: I reviewed the first book in this series, Three of Swords here, and it turned out to be a good jumping off point for my book 2 review (who’da thunk?). In book 1, we’re introduced to Gray Vicello, a precog who doesn’t want the sight, doesn’t know how to control it, and is frankly afraid of its power and potential. It does, however, assert itself when he doesn’t ask for it, showing him visions when he doesn’t seek them. Enter Cooper Key, the young man who came with the houseboat Gray inherited after his grandfather’s murder. Gray sees a future with him, and they’re swept away in an adventure that answers what happened to Graham, who he really was (not the curmudgeonly old bat Gray thought he was), and introduces a series of characters who impact Gray’s future. Which brings us to book 2… These are the questions I had at the end of book 1.
Where was Graham’s treasure?
Who else knew Gray was a precog?
Who could they trust?
Book 2 literally begins exactly where Three of Swords left off. Cooper and Gray are about to look for the key which could lead to Graham’s treasure. Then Gray’s phone rings, bringing Gray’s cousin Harper into their lives temporarily, and adding some reality to the honeymoon-ish feel of Gray and Cooper’s newly minted relationship. The little touchstones of reality dappled throughout the books make this series, despite the magical aspect, extremely realistic to me, with the characters swept into adventure but not losing sight of what they’ll face with a life on a houseboat, no source of income (except Cooper’s bit from his job as a mechanic, which I got the impression wasn’t much), and some serious decisions in their future.
Now, to answer the questions (kinda). Graham’s treasure, it turns out, is located in a safety deposit box—a set of potentially priceless, hand painted Tarot cards, a wad of cash, and another note to Gray from Graham. Cooper and Gray are beyond excited about the money, and Gray is left with the choice of what to do with the cards. Keep them as a family heirloom or sell them for a bigger, more useful family heirloom? Heh.
Harper’s unexpected visit forces Cooper and Gray to stay mum about the windfall, at least until the cards can be authenticated. They hide the money under their mattress (and I literally groaned at this, though the author poked fun at the cliché while using it at the same time, stating, “We grabbed the money and shoved it—where else?—under the mattress.” Seems Mr. Fenraven’s got a sense of humor.) only to have it mysteriously disappear.
So my question from Book 1 led to more questions. Who took the money? Why? How did they even know about it? Fenraven answers these questions and more throughout the middle book of this series, moving the pawns in the story with adroit precision.
Second question: Who else knew Gray was a precog? Answer: the wrong people. The disappearance of the money shows Gray and Cooper the danger they faced in book 1 has changed sources. They decide to bring Harper up to date and get her opinion. She uses her lawyer skills to dig for information Gray and Cooper find useful in figuring out who took their money, then she returns home to rebuild her broken relationship. Gray and Cooper are free to visit the astral plane in an effort to discover the identity of their thief, which leads them back to Jolly Roger for information.
Fenraven timed the ending of this book well, coinciding the authentication of the cards with a visit to the man responsible for their ill fortune with money, and we discover just how sinister people can be who know about Gray and Cooper’s abilities. Yet another cliffhanger ending, but I was able to dive right into the final book of the series, The Lightning Struck Tower.
The middle book of a series usually is the most boring. Pieces being moved into place, not a whole lot resolved, and usually things happening for no discernable reason. Not so in this book. We learn more about the astral plane and what dangers and wonders it holds, what Gray and Cooper’s spirit guide’s role is, and we get a glimpse of how deep Gray’s ability really goes. However, we also get more questions than answers, though my final question after book 1 is answered in Book 2’s cliffhanger. Who can they trust?
Answer: No one.
Blurb: Gray Vecello and Cooper Key are back in the last book in the Precog in Peril series. Snatched by PsiOps, a covert arm of the government, they’re offered training in exchange for their psionic help. Will they take the deal, and if they don’t, what will PsiOps do to them?
Gray and Cooper meet new friends and enemies in this final chapter in the trilogy. The story takes the reader from New York City to Ely, Minnesota, and back to Gray and Cooper’s marina in Red Wing, where they will face the ultimate test of their powers. Someone will live… and someone will die.
Review: And here, it all comes together. Once again, we’re yanked right back into the story at the leaving off point of Book 2. We get a glimpse of who Jolly Roger really is, but it’s not clear up front if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. Truthfully? This question is never fully answered, and I suspect now that Roger is like a lot of people—mostly good, but sometimes does things—things others would consider bad since they only have part of the information—in the name of getting shit done. It’s all about context. Do you kidnap someone to keep them safe and protected? Do you suggest killing someone because they pose a greater danger to a wider array of people? Context is key.
So Cooper and Gray find themselves in a situation where their abilities are on the market, so to speak. If they accept the “offer” which is the lesser of two evils (and not really a choice anyway), they have a modicum of control over when and how those abilities are used. They have negotiating power. If they accept the other crazy man’s offer, who the hell knows what could happen?
Obvious, right? Gray and Cooper agree to go with Jolly Roger, learn more about their abilities and how to control them, and make themselves available a few times a year for jobs the secret government agency, PsiOps, deems necessary.
I liked the bit about them learning how their abilities worked quite a bit, as well as the introduction of a couple new characters, Wade, Lily, and Grant. I immediately identified with Lily, who reminds me of a friend of mine. Sassy, smart, blunt while being diplomatic, and a little bit hippy, but totally caring while cutting through the bullshit. Favorite comic relief? When Grant, a man with the ability of mental suggestion—which that’s just damned scary, the possibilities for havoc wreaking—makes Gray think he’s so hungry he could eat the button on his jeans. He’s actually reaching for the button when he realizes what’s going on. Freaking laughed my ass off.
By far, aside from Cooper, who’s risen above his past in such an endearing, strong way, Wade touched me the most. His story of past abuse and how he coped by literally making himself invisible, broke my heart. It’s a joy to watch him come into his own and begin to believe in himself. If any of the secondary characters are screaming for their own book, Wade’s the one.
Unfortunately for Wade and the rest of the crew, they’re forced to test their abilities to the maximum limits when the man who made the greater of two evils offer, McCollough, returns with an ultimatum for Gray.
Without spoiling it, I can only tell my reactions. Disbelief: What? Nooooooo! Urgency: Fix this, Gray! You have to fix this! More disbelief: Oh my God. Did that just happen? Is this real? Utter despair: This can’t be. I can’t read this. But I can’t not read this! Gimme those tissues, dammit. Hope: Can this work out? Oh God, let it all work out, please please please.
Yes, I squealed out loud. I was tense and chewing on my nails. I hated and loved every minute of it until the end. Then I just loved it. The depth of the story, despite the understated emotionality of the series, which I’m learning is Fenraven’s characteristic style, gripped me and wouldn’t let go. It’s a roller coaster, one I’ll gladly ride again. Theo Fenraven is being added to my list of auto-read authors. Everything I’ve read of his, I’ve liked immensely.
Overall, the series gets A listed!—yes, with an exclamation, despite my aversion to them. It’s a fabulous read, no plot holes that I could find, and it leaves enough open ended to make me wonder if more Cooper and Gray are on the horizon. I could find nothing to indicate that on Voodoo Lily Press’s or Fenraven’s websites, but I do hope so. I love Cooper and Gray, and Wade and Lily, and Harper and yes, even Jolly Roger, the bastard. Want a good series to get into? This is your next one. I promise.