Clean by Alex Hughes
Sci-fi, urban fantasy, police procedural, mystery, suspense… Clean has elements of them all. We’ve loved this book since we first read it, and we’re looking forward to more in the series.
Publisher’s Description: I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, Spoilers!)
I love Mindspace Investigations. Once I start a book in this series, I might as well forget doing anything else.
I know the protagonist is not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guy. He’s had it easy. Strong telepath as well as precognitionist. Then he gets dumped in an experiment that goes wrong. Um, hello? Obviously, the protagonist couldn’t see the writing on the wall with that one. Really? “Here, smart guy, take this highly addicting substance and see what it does.” Duh? And then he wonders why The Guild drops him like a hot potato when things go wrong. Sheesh.
I’ve liked this series from the get go. The writing is amazing and really strikes a chord with what I know about addiction and ruination of life. It is so on the spot, it gives the author huge kudos for the research she has done.
The investigator in the story needs the protagonist because he can see into Mindspace. He can get a bead on the killer and through good old fashioned detective work, they figure out – together- whodunit.
I know I’m not giving much for spoilers, but I was warned by the Author (she’s a mean one – just kidding, Alex) and Ivana (who you all know I’m particularly wary of *waving to Ivana*) that I should not reveal anything because this book is a ride from page 1 to the end. There isn’t a cliffhanger – just an ongoing story arc. I absolutely love this series. When Book 5 comes out, I’m so all over it, you won’t see me for at least a day. I cannot wait!!!
In preparing for this review, I skimmed some of the other reviews on Goodreads. I was surprised to see that the reviews for this book are all over the board – from “I couldn’t finish it” to “OMG this is amazing!” I really enjoyed Clean the first time I read it, and I’ve read it several times since. I would have to really nitpick to find something about the book I didn’t like.
In the not-too-distant future, technology has gone horribly wrong, and its use is limited. Some of the population is gifted with telepathic powers, and these people stepped up to save the world. Now they are feared, but powerful and useful. The rich history and background of the world in Clean is perfect for my style of reading. The reader never learns everything about the past, but little bits are revealed throughout the story.
The way Hughes writes about telepathy from the telepath’s point of view is pretty neat as well. It’s fascinating to see a peek into someone brain, to see what they might be thinking or feeling. Watching the protagonist interview suspects, interpret their thoughts, and manipulate them into thinking what he needs to know is both captivating and scary.
One thing I really appreciated about Clean is how the protagonist views his partner. Cherabino is a tough detective with a haunted past, which causes her to appear pretty bitchy at times. Despite that, the protagonist never loses faith in her, never gets tired of her or fed up with her attitude. He can see into her mind, knows what’s causing her outward behavior, and yet sees her for who she really is. I think we all crave that kind of acceptance in our lives.
The protagonist does get a little whiny – he’s lost a lot and feels very put upon by the indignities of his new status. However, he’s an amateur whiner compared to Thomas Covenant, who is my gold standard for fictional whiny protagonists. Heck, compared to most regular people I work with, he’s a model for stoic acceptance. 🙂
Read our review of the short story prequel, Rabbit Trick.
If you like this book…