Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel
by Alex Hughes
Review by Harriet Klausner
Roc Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464750
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Following the Tech Wars destruction, normal humans keep their distance from the telepaths. He appreciates that as he prefers being left alone so as to avoid Mindspace thoughts of everyone nearby. Since the Telepaths’ Guild banished him from their membership due his addiction to Satin though he knows better that their reason is they do not trust him any more than the normals do. He has avoided Satin for three years but cannot celebrate as the urge remains strong and he fell off the wagon twice before. The eighth level telepath earns a living working at the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia.
He interviews Esperanza Mensalez-Mir who is suspected of killing her affluent husband. Accompanying the telepath is a "baby-sitter" cop as he lays out the law that he must obey when interviewing a person. First he explains his telepathic level and that touching increases his power and can harm the civilian mentally. He completes the mission and goes outside in the Atlanta heat to smoke a blue cigarette.
His partner Detective Isabella Cherabino says Captain Paulson wants them to work the case in which six bodies have been found in two months; only don't call it a serial killer investigation. There is no seeming link between the corpses and the gap between homicides has decreased. Having made no progress the DCPD hopes their telepath can find clues in Mindspace though she warns him to stay out of her head. Knowing his role is that of Cherabino's pet monkey, he works the case alongside the detective only to have two concerns. First there seems to be a connection to the Telepaths’ Guild and worse he has seen a vision in which the next victim is him.
Readers learn of the Atlanta area just after the Tech Wars from nameless’ commentary while following the clues alongside Cherabino and the telepath. As he and Cherabino work the serial killing case, their past is highlighted without intruding on the present; in fact their respective background enhances the whodunit as the audience learns what motivates each of the unequal partners. He proves more accepting of his situation as a second class citizen no matter what he does than she does of hers especially if she is forced to do office work.
The storyline is fast-paced from the moment readers meet the nameless narrator as he breaks Espernanza into a confession followed by a demand for a lawyer and never slows until the final confrontation to include a terrific late twist. The first Mindspace Investigations urban fantasy deftly blends a strong inquiry with paranormal activity inside of a superb mystery as the detective and the telepath follow the clues trying to track down a diabolical serial killer. Fans will want more by Alex Hughes in this setting starring the lead protagonists.