Bonds of Justice, by Nalini Singh

>> Sunday, October 21, 2012

TITLE: Bonds of Justice
AUTHOR: Nalini Singh

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Near future US
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: 8th in the Psy-Changelings series

Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…

Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury... and executioner...
Books in this series have so far concentrated on the Psy and Changelings (well, it is called the Psy/Changeling series!), but in Bonds of Justice we finally get to see the roles a human can play in this world.

Max Shannon is a cop. The police force is heavily dominated by the Psy, who find it convenient to have humans being part of it. They can do most of the work, and when they happen to turn up something the Psy would rather keep hidden, it's easy enough to manipulate their minds to sort it out. Max, however, has a very strong natural shield which makes him resistant to Psy manipulation. His career prospects are therefore not spectacular.

Max meets Sophia Russo after he apprehends a serial killer, when her skills are required. Sophia is a J-Psy, the J standing for Justice. Basically, she can delve into people's minds, search them, and locate particular memories, which she can then show to other people. That's pretty handy for nice, pleasant things like, for instance, finding out where a close-mouthed serial killer dumped his victims' bodies. Understandably, J-Psy tend to burn out early, their minds degenerating into madness. Sophia is pretty sure she's close, and refuses to undergo the process known as 'Rehabilitation', which will basically turn her sharp mind into mush.

Max and Sophia meet again when a killer starts targetting a Psy Councilor, and their services are required. Before long, the attraction between them becomes irresistible, but is there any point, when Sophia's increasingly unsteady mind is surely leading her to either Rehabilitation or suicide?

I really enjoyed both Max and Sophia. Max really shows how, even in a world where so many people have paranormal powers that seem to put them at a massive advantage, lowly, normal humans can still hold their own. Sophia is great as well. There isn't a tentative bone in her body. She's in a horrible, heartbreaking position, but she's determined to deal with it in her own way, and to make the best of whatever time she's got left. I really enjoyed their interactions.

The problem is that I'm looking at this book, not in isolation, but having read all the previous entries in the series. One of the things I've liked so much in them is that there didn't seem to be an obvious way out of the seemingly impossible situations Singh put her characters in. But after so many of them, and seeing so many Psy characters be able to get out of the PsyNet and maintain their minds' stability, I know it's perfectly possible to do, even if the characters themselves aren't sure. This made the stakes lower than they might have been, and made the book less than a page-turner.

Still, page-turner or not, this was really enjoyable.



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