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Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by…

Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel (edition 2012)

by Alex Hughes

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1481280,863 (3.58)8
Title:Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel
Authors:Alex Hughes
Info:Roc (2012), Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Clean by Alex Hughes



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The title is very accurate. It clearly identifies two of the overriding themes in the novel:
a) the struggle to overcome addiction (and all the baggage that accumulates with an addict), and
b) the difficulties faced by a recovering addict when investigating murders - given a)

The fact that is is set in an urban fantasy world - and has tech/abilities that don't exist (yet) - doesn't change the fact that this is primarily a strong detective novel with a flawed main character. The setting has changed from the traditional noir detective novel, but the story is still a noir detective novel.

There was a lot of self-absorption from the main character but that was logical since he is a recovering addict - and a moderately unwilling one at that. There was a lot of "baggage" from the past that is never explicitly defined for the reader - this baggage affected the main character's relationship with his current partner, his job, his past, and even with the bad guy, but we are not given any of the details around this. We are told only that "main character has a past, was kicked from the guild for it, and lost his fiancee because of it", and we know that every decision he makes or action he takes now stems from that past. One would think this would ruin the story, but it does not. It's the traditional noir "flawed detective" except the source of the flaw is a weird drug (rather than the usual alcohol) and the residual effects on his life revolve around his experiences in the guild and his remaining ties to it (rather than the usual military, PTSD or childhood abuse rationale).

Overall, this was a wonderful find: I like urban fantasy, I like noir, and I like flawed main characters who are fundamentally good. I will be reading the rest in the series. ( )
  crazybatcow | Jun 19, 2015 |
Solidly fun, with a compelling narrator; I could wish for the worldbuilding to be a little more fleshed out sometimes. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Dec 14, 2014 |
Clean reminds me of [b:Unshapely Things|388793|Unshapely Things (Connor Grey, #1)|Mark Del Franco|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309138300s/388793.jpg|378412]: the main character, a telepath, is damaged (an addict in this case, a loss of ability in Unshapely Things), who got kicked out of the Guild (people with abilities in this book, Fae in Unshapely Things) and who is now working for the police as a consultant.
I didn't get the character's name until the very end - the last two lines of the book. It's Adam. Weird. When I've read those lines, my first though was "Who's Adam?"

( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
I had read a sample of this and really liked it so marketing score for Roc. Of course once I had it, getting around to reading it took some time. I liked the setting with a future Atlanta but no real in your face tech changes due to a cyber war that has everyone very distrustful of computers and the internet. The plot is a stand mystery with the bonus of instead of a PI you have a consultant working with the police. We are far enough into the future that there is a Telepath Guild and our trusty consultant has been thrown out of for being a drug addict. If you like SF mysteries than run out and get this. Bonus is book two just came out so I will be reading that soon. And crossing fingers I should have some signed copies of the series available in a few weeks. ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
A deeply-flawed, drug addicted telepath acts as a police consultant to help bring down a serial killer. The stakes are raised when a vision puts him in the killer’s path. Can he bring down this murderous monster or will his premonition come sooner than expected?

I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a fair review.

Alex Hughes has crafted a compelling universe for her characters to play in. A self-admitted cop show junkie, Hughes mashed her love of police procedurals together with speculative fiction to create Clean, the first novel in her Mindspace Investigation series. The story picks up sixty years after the devastating Tech Wars, an event fought with computer viruses and self-aware machines. If it wasn’t for the psychic powered force known as The Guild, we’d all probably end up like Neo, floating in a pink sack powering our mechanical masters.

Where Hughes’ talent truly lies is in her world building. She’s clearly put a lot of time and effort into constructing the Atlanta of tomorrow. The scenes in which characters descend into Mindspace – a tool used by telepaths to detect changes and abnormalities in our environment undetectable by us normies – were fascinating and easy to grasp (fishbowl analogy was excellent). Given the events of the Tech Wars, the US government has scaled back its overwhelming reliance on technology. Heavy filtering procedures are in force when sending emails, net access is limited and hard copies are once again essential when it comes to paperwork. It’s not often you read a novel based in the future featuring flying cars but with reduced levels of technology.

Hughes mirrored a lot of the great hard-boiled protagonists by saddling the telepath with an addiction – a narcotic dubbed Satin – he cannot easily overcome. Knowing he’s only one mistake away from finding himself out on his ass, it leads to some intense scenes where he’s teetering on the edge without much to keep him grounded. That being said, the only real constant in his life is Swartz, his addiction sponsor, who is determined to keep him on the straight and narrow. While their interactions are minimal, their importance keeps the story moving forward. I would’ve actually liked a little more between the two.

Aside from his feelings for his partner Isabella Cherabino, he doesn’t have much going for him. In fact, my only real gripe involves some of the back and forth between the two. There’s clearly some chemistry there, but I found the telepath came across as whiny or annoying when he pined for her. I’m not advocating for the roles to be reversed – I’d dislike it either way – I guess I just wanted less romance; something that while not overwhelming, disrupted the flow of the story.

I’m very interested to see where this goes from here. Luckily for me, I’ve got the sequel on deck!

**Sidenote** The telepath does indeed have a name but it’s being withheld in this review as it would spoil one of the strongest moments in the novel.

Check out my interview with Alex. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
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To Paula Gillispie and Julie Gray, because I promised.  To Dan Marshall, because he deserves it.
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My first interview of the night was Esperanza Mensalez-Mar, a thirty-something woman dressed in a pink-pressed suit I suspected cost more than my last paycheck.
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"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" -- p. [4] of cover.… (more)

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