While perusing the shelves of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section I happened upon Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by Alex Hughes. With no previous knowledge, but a powerful need for something new to read, I checked it out. Sometimes you just get lucky, and you find a book that fits you. This was one of those times! Hughes does a great job in this book setting the scene. It’s the not too distant future, and a dystopian one at that! After a severe tech crash, and the rise of a generation of folks who possess psionic powers of all types, the world remains a messy place. Told from a first person perspective, our narrator is a powerful telepath and recovering drug addict. He works as a consultant to the DeKalb County, GA police department, interviewing suspects and investigating crime scenes. While the normal CSI crews check for physical clues, our unnamed narrator delves into mindspace to search for the residual psychic traces of violent crime.
Hughes tells her tale through her narrator with a gritty style that brushes the edges of noir without feeling trite. She weaves in details about this future Earth that conjure images of Blade Runner–outer world colonies exist, and a shadowy organization of people with mental powers has segregated itself and created an almost parallel government. When a powerful member of this Telepath’s Guild appears to be behind a string of grisly murders, the narrator and his beautiful partner, homicide detective Isabelle Cherabino, struggle against red tape, jurisdictional issues, and their own personal demons to find the truth. When the killer himself turns his awesome power on them, the hunters become the hunted!
Hughes has written another book in his Mindspace setting called Sharp, and once I’ve read that, I’ll need to cast my gaze about for more books in this interesting little corner of the sci-fi universe. I got a little curious what else might be out there and went to Novelist, our best database for generating read-alikes. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at the results, but it did produce Patrick Lee’s Runner, which looks promising. Elsewhere I found a copy of No Hero by Jonathan Wood, which blends police action with horror in a covert war against tentacled horrors from beyond time and space. Good times.
Finally, leave it to sci-fi stalwart Alan Dean Foster to have something roughly in this area among his long list of books! The Mocking Program looks to blend a near-future setting with paranormal powers in just the right mix. I’ll end this post on that note, but I am open to more suggestions!