Clean by Alex Hughes

Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by Alex HughesPublished: September 4, 2012
Format: Mass market paperback
Publisher: Roc

Series: Mindspace Investigations #1

Source: Personal shelf

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is actually my second time reading Clean but the first time writing it up. I tried this book for the first time shortly after it came out but I wasn’t able to blog about it. But I really liked Clean so I figured it was time to re-read it and actually remember to post about it! So here goes…

Clean is set in a dark, not-terribly-distant future in Atlanta. In the aftermath of the Tech Wars, people don’t trust technology anymore so almost everything is back to the trusted pen-and-paper methodology. The only reason the world survived the Tech Wars? The Telepaths’ Guild stepped up and saved everyone, by being super scary. (Clean doesn’t have a lot of details but I think my imagination did a pretty good job of figuring it out.) As a result, the Guild has the right to self-government but no one trusts them that much. The main character ofClean was a shining star in the Guild until he got hooked on Satin, a fancy drug, and lost his job and was kicked out of the Guild. Now, he works for the local police department with his partner Detective Isabella Cherbino, solving crimes and working the interrogation room, trying to resist the urge to fall back into his addiction. He doesn’t have any friends from his previous life but he’s working hard to make the most of the opportunity he has, even when that means going up against the Guild.

In some ways, the worldbuilding reminded me of the Atlanta we see in the Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews, but I think that’s mostly because both series are set in Atlanta and have some interesting implications for use of technology. In any case, it’s meant to be a complimentary statement, not a negative one.

Hughes populates her world with some great characters, aside from the leading man. I really loved Cherbino. She’s tough, smart, and awesome, and her backstory is really poignant. I loved how we got peeks into her mind thanks to the main character’s telepathy. The other cops are also quite interesting, and I hope we get to know them more in future novels. I was also really intrigued by Kara, a Guild member who we meet partway through the novel. I won’t say too much about her since I don’t want to give away the game but I do hope to learn more about her, and her relationship with our intrepid main character, if that’s possible.

You may have noticed that I keep saying “he” instead of using the main character’s name. Well, that’s because he goes through nearly the entire book without anyone using it and I don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s an interesting way to write and it works because Clean is told from a first-person point of view. But if you’re like me, you’re going to spend a great deal of time wondering just what the heck his name is while you’re going through.

Clean is a fantastic debut novel and and I’m really interested in spending more time in this world. Thankfully, Sharp, the next novel, is right around the corner, and there’s an e-novella called Payoff that’s available now. You can be sure I’ll be on the lookout for how many times the main character’s name is used in this one. 🙂

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