One of the most attractive things about the Jago & Litefoot series is it's simplicity. Never too complicated. Never too hard to follow. Jago and Litefoot are not expert detectives, but most often than not, amateurish sleuths. This is an unusual element which only strengthens the dynamic. The series is straight forward and regularly rely on revisiting popular story ideas such as vampires, mind control and hypnotism amongst many others, but they visit these concepts in a way that feels completely fresh and new, usually combining them with a Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery. Another dominating factor is the protagonists. Trevor and Benjamin play off one another expertly and listening to Jago and Litefoot talk - about anything really - is entertaining in of itself. Anyone who has ever listened to one of their stories can testify that the script's dialogue is fantastically creative. Mind Games is no different.
Without giving anything away, it's quite a dark story with lots of The Talons of Weng-Chiang feel to it. Other than the Gothic atmosphere that engulfs this tale, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between Mind Games and the aforementioned television story. Mind Games also does a superb job of setting up the themes and ideas that will be explored throughout the arc. It also introduces the lead antagonist - Mr Rees - and details his personality, but also leaves gaps open for the other stories to fill. After all, we can't know everything 1/4 into the arc. One of these things is his motivation which I found when left unanswered only strengthened the overall story. There is something eerie about people who do evil without having a reason.
“London, 1964, and the repercussions of Jago and Litefoot’s adventure are dealt with by Sir Toby Kinsella and his crack team of specialists at Counter-Measures. What is the Reesinger Process – and who is behind it?”
With shades of Jago & Litefoot, the Counter-Measures part also had a mystery on their hands, but instead of a couple of amateur sleuths, The Reesinger Process felt like 24 meets The West Wing. Even though I'm not a fan of either of those, I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed The Reesinger Process. Like Jago & Litefoot, the Counter Measures stories use easy ideas and relies on the popularity of their characters to stand out. I like Group Captain Ian Gilmore as he reminds me of the Brigadier in some aspects, but it's still two very different characters and approaches. I fell in love with Sir Toby who acts as Mission Control for the team. His voice is so calm with that hint of 'you can't trust a word I'm saying' and 'even though it doesn't sound like it, I am talking down to you'.
One of the biggest concerns I had going into this story was the thought that now that Jago & Litefoot set the rules and did the most obvious plot story utilizing the concepts introduced in Mind Games, Counter Measures will try the same and end up looking like a 1964 copy and paste job with just new characters. Counter Measures puts a new, inventive spin on things and it comes out looking like a true political thriller story. One of the downsides though, Mr. Rees doesn't have as big of a role in this one than he did in Mind Games and Jamie Glover, who plays Mr. Rees doesn't even appear. So if Mr. Rees features, but Jamie doesn't, what's going on? Well go have a listen to it for yourself.
The Screaming Skull
This third story, penned by Johnathon Morris, managed to keep the ball rolling by not only introducing not-retired-anymore Mike Yates, but showcasing once again that it doesn't take a whole ensemble of cast members and various settings to tell a good story. Writing a 'Vault' story is tough. You usually have fewer than five or four characters. You're confined to one single building and you're expected to deliver not only a plot that works with these restraints, but also one that will keep people interested. The Screaming Skull is such a story. Morris makes it three for three by delivering yet another chilling, claustrophobic story and utilizing what he has to work with to the best of his abilities.
This story, unlike the previous two, also gives us a deeper insight into Mr. Rees and the character gets a decent amount of development after hardly featuring in the previous story. We also get to hear a bit about Mike's troubled past. I'll confess that I don't know much about the character, this story makes me want to.
One letdown is the the inclusion and to some extent, over-reliance on a particular trope I dislike. No. I hate this trope. I understand why it's in the story, but it just feels bleh.
Speaking of which, Second Sight had a lot to live up to, being the climatic battle against Rees. Once again the writers had to find something different and interesting to do with the plot ideas they introduced without it feeling old or repetitive. They not only succeeded at this, but they also managed to pull in my opinion a very clever twist near the end. Some listeners will no doubt go 'he cheated a bit, didn't?'. Yes. The resolution to the cross through may come across like that, but thankfully the story lampshades this by referencing it in-story.
One thing that did upset me about the box set was the lack of individual covers. It's understandable enough why there wasn't a Jago & Litefoot themed cover for Mind Games and so forth, but it really would've looked much better if it wasn't just one cover.
Rating Mind Games: 8/10. I'd expect nothing less from the Infernal Investigators!