HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…
As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.
And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.
Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...
Alex Hughes was born in Savannah, GA and moved to the south Atlanta area when she was eight years old. Shortly thereafter, her grandfather handed her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, and a lifelong obsession with scifi was born.
Alex is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop and a Semi-Finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Her short pieces are published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine.
Alex’s work is smart, dark, adventurous, and a little funny, with a emphasis on great characters and interesting worlds. She gets her inspiration from history (she majored with a European history focus in college), family members, and headlines, as well as whatever book she has in her hand. Lately she’s been reading neuroscience books; the brain’s a cool, cool place and the mind even more so.
An avid cook and foodie, Alex loves great food of any stripe – even better if she can figure out how to put it together. Great food is like a great book; it has lots of layers that work together beautifully, and the result is delicious and harmonious. She’s working on figuring out Indian food right now – suggestions welcome!
Alex loves swing dancing, tetris, music of all kinds, and has been known to get into long conversations with total strangers at restaurants about the Food Network, much to the embarrassment of her sister. She can also balance a spoon on her nose while crossing her eyes, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.
Q: “I’m a telepath. No one has stoned me yet. Obviously I can keep a secret.” (c) Q: Despite her small size, delicate features, and obvious age, she carried herself with confidence. Well, maybe “confidence” wasn’t the right word. The attitude of a woman carrying a big, crass, brightly painted grenade launcher, with an antiaircraft laser attachment for good measure? That. With a string of pearls. Let’s just say she got what she wanted more often than she didn’t, one way or the other. (c)
While I didn't like this as much as the first, I would still say it's a good entry in the Mindspace series.
That shouldn't be too heavy a knock on Sharp - I did really love the first book - but some of the nuance I loved about Clean didn't come through here. It's not enough for me to even consider skipping the rest of the series, either; it's not uncommon for a second book, and this felt like exactly the issues they usually run into. Overemphasis on things the readers liked, making some plot parts a little overly clear, that sort of thing.
On the other hand, I still love the world this series is set in; the mix of the future and the 80s-style tech (plus flying cars!) is one we just don't get to see enough of, and it's just fun. The characters are easy to like, and the side storyline concerning Adam and his addiction is thoughtfully executed.
Sharp should have been titled one damn thing after another. Exhausting. Every step forward, every small victory has been followed by two or three (or four) steps back.
A word of advice: read this when you are in a good mood. Adam's depression was starting to wear me out. His problems involve almost every single person he knows and some new ones. It was a chore to get through the first third of the book. Adam's depression combined with the amount of ungratefulness and people around him being horrible, mean and selfish is not a happy combination. Still, the emotions all this evoked are enough to make this a good read.
Adam's job as a police interrogator is on the line because of the budget cuts and his past isn't so in the past here. He must find a way to make himself important enough not to be fired. That is hard when everyone, from the Guild to the FBI, is breathing down his neck. You finally find out one of the horrible things Adam did when he was on drugs. There are two mysteries. Someone strangled a woman in her home leaving her without any defensive wounds. The other is a hijacking case.
I know I said that people are horrible in this story, but there are a couple of exceptions, Kara, his ex fiancée, being one of them. Unlike Cherabino, who drove me crazy, Kara helped more often than not. At least, as much as she could.
As for Cherabino, just saying she is 'strong, and difficult, and stubborn, and deadly smart' is not enough. She is sometimes judgemental and prejudiced. There is a moment in the book where they are talking about smuggling and she concludes right away that of course the people in question are smuggling because they are from another country (just hearing the name of the country was enough to make her jump to that conclusion). One of the other characters gets annoyed by this and tells her off, but nothing else. And this is just one example. Don't even let me start on how she treats Adam. At the same time, I have to be honest. She has these moments of brilliance where she acts as a true friend. I'd like to read about that Cherabino more.
The ending of the first (the last lines) gives you the name of the protagonist. In this one you get his surname (Ward). It's also in the last couple of lines. If it's not intentional, it's pretty strange.
A lot happens in this book. There are some things which I haven't mentioned and they play a very important role here and possibly in other books too; the young boy with Ability and the issue with his sponsor were left hanging above Adam's head. However, both cases are solved so no real cliffhanger (only a sort of an announcement for the things to come).
After a war in which most of humanity was killed, the world has banned the use of tech and especially biological entities that were used in the war. Cops, however still have to solve crimes. Enter Adam. A Level Eight telepath, Adam was kicked out of the Guild of Telepaths because he was an addict and burned out the talents of three of his students. Adam has found a niche, however, with the police using his powerful skills in Mindspace to interrogate suspected felons. He found this position through the intervention of Cherabino, a beautiful police detective.
In Book 1 in the series, "Clean" Adam, despite his powerful addiction has learned to stay off of his drug and successfully uses his talent, Kira, his former fiancée from the Guild, and Cherabino to take down a powerful telepathic murderer. In the process, Alex sets up a mindbonded LINK with Cherabino, in which he and she can hear each other’s thoughts, but burned out most of his powers, which have to recharge.
In this book, its only been a short six weeks since the events in "Clean". Adam is still recovering his abilities. Cherabino has been avoiding Adam because she is afraid of their connection through the LINK. Adam who is practically in love with Cherabino wants to be with her, but is staying away. Hughes is particularly adept in this first person novel of showing how Adam has to overcome many problems. The cops's dislike for his mind reading skills, the steps they take to make sure he is not on drugs, the fear of regular citizens for members of the Guild, the drug tests, the minder cop Bellury whose job is to protect Adam from himself, and the fact that they have walled Adam off from his salary. But at the same time Hughes shows how Adam has learned how to be a really good cop. Its not about only using his talent, he lies and uses all kinds of tools in the interrogations to figure out who is guilty, persuades, finds clues, and uses instinct and others to figure out crimes. It was those skills that helped him in the first case. As a result, Adam has also gained a bit of notoriety. The FBI is interested in using his skills and the Guild is worried that having an independent telepath on the outside could imperil their objectives. Meanwhile, Adam has had to hide the fact that his telepathic talents have had to recover from his last case. Now they only work part time.
Hughes also employs very vivid imagery to describe Adam’s descent into Mindspace. If you like novels in which PSI talents figure prominently, and I am a big fan, then you will like these books for the cop detective telepath side, the convoluted plots and well drawn war ravaged society with citizenry with amazing medical marvels only dreamt of today, but at same time forced to use basic techology because of the fear of how technology was used in the war. .It also helps that Adam is a very likable character. Everyone likes an underdog, a story of redemption, a character who overcomes the odds and makes his way.
So, when Cherabino asks him to come to a crime scene and use his special skills in Mindspace, Adam wants to help. Despite his loss of power and control, Adam can do a kind of forensic view of the crime scene and see a lot of what occurred. The police suspect the victim's husband, who beat his wife, but Adam finds through his talent that it was a professional, who killed the victim, Emily. Unusually, Emily, who was a former student of Adam seems to have sat complacently while she was strangled with a toothed ligature.
While Adam and Cherabino join forces to try to solve the crime, Hughes keeps the pressure on him in his private life. Cherabino has asked him to evaluate her nephew who has PSI talents, and Adam tries to help him stay outside the Guild. The Guild has sent a special agent to evaluate Adam’s risk to the Guild interests. Adam is not interested in helping the Guild spy on him, but when his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor has a heart attack, Adam asks the Guild for help to save his Sponsor’s life, but has to agree to mental monitoring from the Guild Agent. Its hard to hide all of his secrets and secret illegal tech when the Guild has a plug right in his brain.
Adam and Cherabino soon discover a smuggling operation involving illegal biological beings that can be used to circumvent Guild telepaths and be linked to illegal computers and that Fiske, a noted crime lord is involved. Cleverly, this is all linked back to the very beginnings of the novel.
As Adam and Cherabino get closer to tracking down the killer and how the smuggling operation fits in, Emily’s husband once again becomes a link as does another old student of Adam.
It’s a swift moving mystery with many science fiction details, a richly imagined future in which some people want to bring back technology to take over the world, and its left for one very smart detective and one telepathic detective to overcome his many obstacles, and follow the clues to the ultimate confrontation.
I like the world, I like the characters and I like the cops. I am sure you will too.
Comparing Alex Hughes to Jim Butcher does both authors a disservice. Their books are fantastic and nothing alike. Sharp is stunning, convoluted, tragic, and ...real. Adam's struggles may be set in a future post-apocalyptic world, but his addiction and attempts to cope with his life are all too real. Since his story is first person point of view, the reader only knows how other people view Adam if he picks up their thoughts. This POV lets the reader be just as surprised as Adam when he finds out that people care about him. The only bad thing about Sharp is that I have finished reading it; I will definitely read this one again. I did not find information on book 3, but I hope the wait will not be too long. Hughes's books have a place on my favorites shelf.
I was going to read Sharp again when I got home from work, but Kelley Armstrong's The Rising came in and has a waiting list, so Sharp has to wait a day. Just as Clean stands up to being read again, Sharp loses nothing on a second reading.
I forgot that Sharp ends with a cliffhanger. Clean and Sharp will not make it to my 'books to read when I feel bad' shelf, but they are firmly entrenched on the 'favorites' shelf.
Going by the number of Goodreads and Amazon reviews for this series, I say – this is the best series you are not reading. It’s like JD Robb meets Jim Butcher. Set in the future, with a strong murder-mystery suspense element, the world is the result of a Tech war, where millions died and technology can no longer be trusted. Our hero, Adam is a very high-level telepath who consults with the police department. His partner, Cherabino is a very tough detective who Adam is attracted to, although let me stress the romance is VERY light in these books. It reminds me of early Harry Dresden and Murphy’s relationship. Thrown together not really willingly but it makes for a fun partnership.
In Sharp, the second book of this series, Adam has many things going on. First and foremost a woman was strangled, her husband is missing and Adam and Cherabino must figure out who murdered her. The victim is someone Adam knows from the Guild. The Guild plays a big part in this book. Adam was a professor at the Guild, until an accident where he accidentally destroyed the minds of three of his best students. Thrown out, turning to drugs, Adam eventually became a consultant with the police. His sobriety is a daily struggle (something I think portrayed so well in this series). Even though he was tossed out of the Guild, he is such a strong telepath, they refuse to just let him go and they are an annoying presence in his life. With budget cuts coming to the police department, Adam fears he will lose his job. His job means everything to him. It’s that thin thread that gives him purpose and motivation in life to not fall back on drugs.
Told only in Adam’s POV, he is such an intriguing character. He carries such guilt with him for being addicted to drugs and changing the lives of his three students for the worse. He does his best to lead a good life now, but the weight he carries is so, so heavy. He relies heavy on his AA mentor and his job. Due to past events in book one, his telepath gift is weak and he has a telepathic connection to Cherabino that he wants to keep on the down low. His powers are not strong, yet he can’t let onto anyone that this is the case, further weighing him down. His relationship (if you can call it that) with Cherabino is almost all professional, except the times she catches his thoughts about him thinking about her boobs or something else unprofessional. They have great banter back and forth and one day I can’t wait to see Cherabino drop her defenses and give into her attraction (which I know is there!)
The suspense and mystery plot is well done in this one. I love the idea that in this world “Tech” which is a combination of technology and biological warfare that decimated half of the population is still feared. Any technological chip of any kind can make the most powerful scared. It’s a cool world, and one that is definitely open to more exploration.
So if you like a futuristic, murder-mystery driven world, with a male protagonist that definitely has his share of woes and misery, give this series a shot. I recommend starting with book one, Clean. You can read my review here.
Alright alright already... I get it. The hero has guilt issues. And rightfully so. But I'm thinking the author should be feeling pretty guilty too after assaulting the reader time after time after time after time after time (I could keep this up all day and not do the guilt expressed in this book justice) after time... with the hero's guilt issues. It might be ok if he felt guilty over different things but there are really only two issues going into this book and they get brought up so often that Peter Parker looks well adjusted, guiltily speaking, compared to this guy.
Having said that... there is enough in the character to still root for. Plot is decent enough that I never felt like putting the book down and saying, "I'm not coming back."
I'll stick around for the next book, but I don't know if I can sit through this guy beating himself up all over again. Don't remember the first book being this guilt ridden...
As with the previous novel in the series, Clean, I'm not really sure how to categorize this novel. It has both futuristic and urban fantasy elements, which come together surprisingly well despite some hand-wavy moments. (For instance, it's never very clear how exactly computer viruses managed to kill so many people--did they all have implants? There's no real explanation, which is why I tend to think of this more as urban fantasy than science fiction.)
Anyway, this novel follows shortly after the events in Clean, and Adam is dealing with the aftermath of his past decisions as well as new conflicts. Alex Hughes does a good job of interweaving the past with present issues, and raising the stakes considerably. However, by the end the resolution of the political fallout seemed a little too pat, given the threats that had been made toward Adam and the lengths he had to go to protect those he cares about. His precognition, and the comments made by his superiors, all suggest that he's in grave danger. Yet in the end, things just work out.
One more thing--one that made me drop the rating by a star--is the frequency of Cherabino's physical assaults on Adam. I get that he's frustrating to deal with, that she feels betrayed, and I believe that on some level Adam feels he deserves the punishment. But given Cherabino's position as an officer of the peace, I can't believe that she gets away with hitting him--on at least one occasion in this story, while jumping to the worst possible conclusions and not even asking questions--without anyone calling her on it. Not only does it strike me as implausible, but as a reader, it makes me angry, especially because in the world of the story, it seems to be accepted without question.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Second in the Mindspace Investigation mystery paranormal series set in a dystopian world revolving around Adam, a damaged rogue psychic working for the police. It's been six weeks since events in Clean, 1.
My Take Hughes is never boring! I love the twist he's taken on psychic abilities, on how our world became the nightmare it is and how people cope with it, their fears, how they try to enjoy what they have. It's an intriguing and scary world with psychics running the real world, real protein a rarity, and yet they have disc floaters, self-repairing roads (admittedly left over from the before time), and a fear of Real Tech — biologicals merged with synthetics — tech that destroyed their world.
This is really good in how it lays addiction out there, how the need bashes away at Adam. The work that Swartz does to make Adam face up to his issues and the steps he has to work. His addictive problems aren't the only needs Adam has to fight. His psychic abilities could drive him mad without the use of illegal Tech, the possession of which could land him in major trouble. His jealousy of Michael is enough to drive Cherabino away, and forces him to look at himself — I hope he eventually realizes how whiny he is!
He's working on forgiveness in this one. And Hughes does a good job of making me feel Adam's reluctance.
As much as I disapprove of Adam's addiction, I do love that he's creating such problems for the Guild. What a bunch of jerks. Expecting him to go off quietly in a corner and die. Yeah, I don't get that. Supposedly Adam is such a strong telepath, he gets sucked in by a Guild experiment, and they just cut him loose? No, no, I don't buy it. There's something underlying all this.
I do like Michael. He's so open and honest. And fair! He is amazingly fair.
"Your actions show what you really mean."
Loose thread is that teddy bear. What was with that?
Stone is laying on the extortion in this. It all depends on how badly Adam wants to keep his job. He's certainly way too focused, thinking there's only one kind of certification. I don't know why Adam didn't come up with the suggestion Paulson does. And Adam makes his choice of which side to come down on.
Tons of background in this: We learn quite a bit about the legal side of the Guild, what they can do to their psychics — and how those psychics can avoid them through Jacob's potential problems — that was a fascinating analysis of Jacob and his abilities. Makes sense too. Paulson lays it out for Adam, why he's valuable to her. We get the details on what happened that found Adam kicked out of the Guild and how he met Cherabino.
Good thing Bellury is around since neither the cops nor Adam are thinking too well. Why Paulson would suggest Adam become a private investigator, I don't know as he isn't exhibiting much in the way of initiative in this.
I'm really confused about this paying the medic thing. On one hand, it's supposed to be covered by the Guild as part of the deal, and then Adam is talking about setting up an installment plan. What gives?
One thing that irritates me in a story is not learning people's names. First AND last. Here we have a main character whose name is Adam. I've read two full novels and one short story, and not once have I encountered a last name. I don't know if it's a "cultural" thing for this civilization in this story or that none of his editors have picked up on this. Personally, I'm leaning on no one noticing as there are other characters that are missing first or last names.
Geez, out of the mouths of babes, and that stupid bitch sister of hers sits there all holier than thou.
I want to re-read Clean simply because I've forgotten some of the details, but I don't think it's necessary to understand what's happening in Sharp.
The Story It's one disaster after another. It's six weeks and Adam's psychic abilities still haven't recovered — and he can't allow anyone at the station to know. Especially when the news about the major layoffs hits in the middle of all these hijackings.
Adam can't lose his job. It's all he's got. All that's holding him on that narrow wall, teetering between falling back into drug addiction and surviving. If he wants a chance, he'll have to prove himself to the department and get certification from an organization that kicked him to the curb.
An organization that wants him back — he's too dangerous as he is, for he was supposed to die — and they aren't prepared to take no for an answer.
The FBI is investigating him.
The details are there, if they can only put it together.
The Characters Adam is a Level Eight telepath consultant for the police and does interrogations. He's a bargain since he's no longer with the Telepath's Guild anymore. Not for the past decade. Jonathan Swartz is Adam's Narcotics Anonymous sponsor; he's always there for Adam. In his regular life, he works for DeKalb County schools as a teacher. He's also stubborner than heck. Selah is his wife.
Kara Chenoa, the current Guild attachée and teleporter, had been his fiancée at the time of the disaster; she's the one who informed on him. Edgar Stone is with Guild Enforcement, the bogeyman of all telepaths as well as judge, jury, and executioner, and he's been assigned to look into Adam. Jamie Skelton is Adam's old mentor and teacher at the Guild, a Level Ten. The desperately needed Vega is the microkinesis medic that costs the earth.
The police Adam is in desperate want — he refuses to acknowledge that it's love — of Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino. She's been holding his chain, keeping an eye on him while he works for the department. Nicole is her sister with a huge problem: her nine-and-a-half-year-old son, Jacob, who is medically fragile with Brallac's disease, may be psychic. After events in Clean, 1, Cherbino does not trust the Guild.
Detective Michael Hwang is a new transfer and her partner. Detective Freeman is also Homicide. Andrew is a forensic accountant who has the cubicle next to Cherabino. Bransen is the head of homicide. Clarkhates Adam and is in charge of Interrogations. Bob has a computer implant, a legal one, and is one with the Internet.
Jamal is a forensics tech who hates telepaths, especially Adam. Jim is the crime scene photographer. Dotty is one of the crime lab techs with some major pain issues. And a nice intro that avoids an info dump to discuss Adam's healing abilities.
Lisa Morris is a new detective, investigating the truck hijacking. Bellury is a semi-retired cop who acts as Adam's babysitter. Lieutenant Paulsen is Adam's boss at the police station. A tough cop who regularly battles other cops who want Adam gone. Detective Strangely is one of the cops on the case.
Special Agent Louis Jarrod has called Adam to inform him of a special investigation into him. Piccanonni is a profiler for the state-level Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Narcotics Anonymous Raquel makes a heavenly carob chip loaf; Norman does this thing with barbecue sauce.
Dr. Carver is the heart surgeon. Thomas Hunter drives a truck for a company that manufactures components for Basic Tech. Blair Sibley is a British expat with specialized military training.
Emily Hamilton is one of the victims, and has been one for years in one form or another, ever since the disaster that was Adam, her professor of Deconstruction at the Guild. She's in sales at Dymani Systems where Theodora Wilcox was her direct superior. Dan Hamilton is her braggart of an abusive husband, an engineering architect with gambling issues. Laney is Emily and Dan's daughter. Linda Powell is Emily's holier-than-thou sister who has her own sins. Bill is her husband. Edelman is Dan's boss.
The other two students that day were Charles and Tamika. Charles killed himself. Tamika has no psychic ability anymore and gets schlepped from department to department, from Dane to courier logistics.
The Python is an assassin with advanced military training. Fiske is a powerful, evil guy with connections everywhere.
The Tech Wars took place 60 years ago, and no one has forgotten its aftermath. Now, almost all tech is banned and policed by the federal Tech Control Organization (TCO).
Agent Ruffins is TCO and has a nasty surprise for Adam that leads to worrisome thoughts.
Mindspace seems to be an atmosphere of emotions and thoughts that can be tapped by any telepath, a place where you can talk to another in their head. ROC is a Re-Oriented Currency unit; it's replaced the dollar bill.
The Telepath's Guild is a world power on its own with complete, well, almost-complete, power over humans and telepaths. No one is allowed to reveal the Guild's secrets. Its people are simply assets with a rating and a skill level. Cooper is its founder. Telepaths, teleporters, Minders, and tracers are some of the skills. Deconstructionists can put you in or take you out of a coma, repair your mind. Satin is the drug the Guild had been testing. And Adam was flying on it the day it happened. A Link is a strong and desirable connection between two people.
Coleen is a missing Minder.
The Cover The cover is of Alex's back in a black raincoat facing down a glittering city even as he stands in a ground of fog — it makes me wonder if it's Mindspace.
The title is a misnomer as there's nothing Sharp about this story unless it's the prick of loss.
Adam is a level 8 telepath, the only one to leave the Guild that overseas people with Abilities, or rather he was the only one to get kicked out of the Guild, and still practice. He is now an interrogator for the police department (but not an actual cop), using his telepathy to pull things out of the suspects’ minds and therefore getting them to confess to their crimes.
Adam is going through some growing pains with his telepathy being on the fritz due to overusing it on a recent case; burning it out. It’s slowly coming back, but at a decreased compactly. His boss at the department also just gave him a head’s up that he could be losing his job due to budget cuts and strongly suggests he gets some kind of certification to improve his chances of keeping his job. That means he has to go back to the Guild and his ex-fiancé to try to renew his certification. And, if that wasn’t bad enough both the FBI and the Guild are now investigating him.
He’s working on a case with a fellow detective and friend, Isabella Cherabino, that has been avoiding him since he accidentally created a telepathic link between them. But with the recent budget cuts solving this case could mean the difference in whether he gets to keep his job or not. It would be just his luck that it connects with a big time crime lord that the department can’t touch.
I thought this book sounded pretty interesting when I read the synopsis so I decided to give it a whirl. I have not read the first book in this series, but the author gives you enough information from Adam’s past that I didn’t feel like I lost anything and could easily understand what was happening.
I actually liked Adam’s character. A disgraced and flawed, but powerful telepath with a former drug addiction that he still is fighting. He has made some huge mistakes in the past; ones that he is still paying for. And, he is far from perfect. His love for his narcotics anonymous sponsor, Swartz, is touching.
So why the low book rating? Because the majority of this book I was bored out of my ever-loving mind! I really enjoyed Adam, as I mentioned above, but the detailing of his day to day life got pretty dull after awhile and really bogged down the story. I felt it really took away from the mystery they were trying to solve and made it hard for me to stay focused and interested in the book.
I really wanted to like this book, but ultimately it just fell short for me.
The stakes are high for Adam when he's not only faced by the bizarre murder of a former student from his days with The Guild, but is also with the looming possibility of unemployment as the police department he contracts for is burdened with a wave of budgetary cut-backs. Add to that the chilly reception he continues to receive from Cherabino, the lady he (inexplicably. Sorry. I just can't. CANNOT) loves and Adam is struggling.
Small rant: How many times does Adam have to help this bitch? Seriously? The guy all put slides his heart under her shoe and she's just vile to him. Bellury got it. That scene where he gets as heart-to-heart with Adam as a guy is willing to go heart-to-heart, Bellury offered this poor bloke some compassion in his plight. Lovin' me some Bellury in that moment. Maybe Swartz needs to grab Adam by the ear and say "Look, man. Can't you see that Cherabino is just another version of Satin? They're both your poison, kid. Stay away. Far away."
Oh, and as for Swartz's arc in this book....we must never speak of this again. The pain and worry I endured was most unpleasant. I should contemplate some sort of litigation and perhaps I will.
Overall, I was fine with the mystery here, but what had me in thrall was Adam's emotional journey and the deeper look into his relationships here in Sharp. He's a complicated guy. A sensitive guy. A very, very broken guy, and his internal landscape is managed extremely well. We feel for him. Bleed for him. Want to kick his ass hard and say "Where the hell's your backbone, man? Your self worth? I know it's in there somewhere so don't you damn well come out till you've got it clutched in your hot little hand and are ready to use it."
I enjoyed the first book in this series and this sequel is well thought out and written...but I have to say its also depressing. Adam lurches from one disaster to another and really can't seem to get a break. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who will love this but I really don't need fantasy books to make me depressed....
I'm still recovering from the time I hurt my brain and my powers are still coming back. Cherabino is still mad at me for the psychic link I accidentally created. My job is on the line, for real this item. The Guild is investigating me, in case I might turn rogue. And there is now a cop killer I have to investigate, because he killed someone I know this time.
I fall into being Adam so easily, I just want to stay being him. This may not make sense to some. However, when I read, I desperate crave becoming the person or persons I'm reading about. There isn't much more I can say that can show how much I enjoy reading something, than to say that I can become a character with ease.
This is the book that tests Adam. It adds as much stress on as it can. Testing him. Making him want his poison of choice. At every step of this book, there is a new stressor for Adam. It is exacerbated because Cherabino is still mad at him for the Link he accidentally established. His friends, his support system is otherwise occupied and can't really help him. I'm so proud of him this book.
In Clean, the Guild was a presence, but it was mostly a background presence. Not the case in Sharp. They're actively going after Adam in this book. They're everywhere. The Guild is so big in this world, and Adam was such a big hitter before he was kicked out, that they kind of had to come after him. The Guild scares me, though. They seem to be capable of anything, can do anything, and seemingly they can basically get away with anything. I'm frightened every time they show up.
Adam's intermittent, healing powers is a big part of Sharp. I love the dynamic in this. He has used his powers and relied on them for so long, he feels their loss keenly. They're coming back, but it still frightens him that they may never come back all the way. This is just one more stress on his life right now. I don't get to see main characters who are as powerful as Adam is having to deal with the loss of their powers, even temporarily.
We also see some of what Adam did when he was on drugs. It isn't pretty. He hurt people. He still hurts them to this day with what he did. It isn't just the people close to him. I really like how Adam struggles with his past in not just Sharp, but the entire series. The fact he is so flawed is such a powerful thing.
There are two other, minor plots in this book, having to deal with Cherabino. One is that she isn't really talking to Adam, that she is upset and angry and scared at their bond. They feel like they are constantly fighting in this book, by the end I was kind of done with their sniping at each other. I'm starting to be very wary about this relationship, because of the way Cherabino acts, it isn't what Adam needs in his life. The second minor plot is Cherabino's nephew is displaying some powers and she wants his help and advice on what to do. I don't really like how Adam deals with this, though I don't know what else he could have done.
I really am enjoying this series. I'm hooked, and can't wait to read further.
I absolutely adore this series now. True, there isn't amazing connection with the characters, but I've finally come to like Adam and when he hurts, or thinking about relapsing I get so emotional. He just needs people in his corner!! I feel like the world building is better-- I understand more, so that is a bit of an improvement.
I liked the mystery, but I kinda guessed some things while finding others not totally available to guess. So, not a "traditional" mystery, but there is still enough to guess for people who like to.
I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book!
If you follow my other blog, you'll know that I've really enjoyed the first couple stories in Alex Hughes' Mindspace Investigations. Her debut novel, CLEAN, was great and the follow-up e-novella, which bridges the gap between CLEAN and her newest novel, SHARP, is probably one of the best novellas I've read lately. Needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on SHARP!
Since this is the first time I'm discussing the Mindspace Investigations series here on Tynga's Reviews, though, I feel like I should give you a primer on the series, so I'm cannibalizing part of my review of CLEAN to give you a bit of context:
Alex Hughes' Mindspace Investigations are set in a dark, not-terribly-distant future in Atlanta. In the aftermath of the Tech Wars (which happened about 60 years before the series picks up), 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. (So far, we don't have a lot of details but you can probably imagine how ruthless they had to be since the Tech Wars were ravaging parts of the world.) As a result, the Guild has the right to self-government but no one trusts them that much.
Adam, the main character of the series, was a shining star in the Guild until he got hooked on Satin, a fancy drug, and lost his job and got kicked out of the Guild. Now, he works for the local police department with his partner Detective Isabella Cherebino, 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. He does, however, have a mentor named Swartz, who I love, and a couple cops on his side, including Cherebino, who he's pretty much in love with, and Bellury, the officer in charge of his day-to-day activities. He's also got a champion higher up in the police force named Paulsen, who finds him extremely useful and keeps him around even though there are a lot of cops who'd be happy to see him go, and more than happy to help Adam find his way out.
In CLEAN, Adam stopped a crazy man from stealing tech from the Guild (who's not supposed to have tech), at the cost of damaging his telepathy. In PAYOFF, we saw part of his recovery but his brain still isn't 100% by the time we hit the first pages of SHARP.
There's also an e-novella that bridges CLEAN and SHARP but it's not essential reading. PAYOFF is great fun (my review here) but definitely not 100% necessary to understand what's going on in SHARP, assuming you've read CLEAN.
With all of that out of the way, I should probably start talking about SHARP, the whole reason I'm writing this post. =)
SHARP is a really solid detective story wrapped in some amazing dystopian urban fantasy paper. The police investigation is what kick starts the narrative and really propels the story to its rather epic conclusion, so it's essential for me that the mystery is strong and that I can't predict what's going to happen. And Hughes does a fantastic job of creating a strong procedural plot line. There are hints about what's to come but I was genuinely surprised by many of the turns that the murder investigation took.
On top of a tough case, Adam is forced to defend his position in the department in the face of cutbacks, which is extra challenging since his telepathy is on the fritz. Budget cuts are a very realistic and mundane threat when compared to illegal Tech but it definite adds to the tension. I really liked the juxtaposition of an everyday problem with a potentially global danger.
Another thing I appreciate about this series is that Hughes has created a fantastic world and that everything is logical within this universe. There are a bunch of different Abilities but the most common one is telepathy. As with all Abilities, people have varying degrees of power, and Adam is a very strong telepath. We get to learn a bit more about his history with the Guild, thanks to interactions with people from his past, and there are also some really great moments in the present, as he wrestles to deal with his faltering telepathy.
And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't say anything about Adam's very complicated relationship with Cherabino. He's in love with her but her feelings are a bit more complicated, especially because she hates the Link that inadvertently grew between the two of them from Adam's repeated use of Cherabino as an anchor while surfing through Mindspace. Their relationship kind of reminds me of Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy in the early Dresden Files and I'm very curious to see what will happen. I don't think I want them to get romantic because I love the tension but I do hope to see the relationship continue to develop in some capacity.
If you're looking for a great series featuring strong procedural elements and a fantastic, well built urban fantasy world, you should definitely check out Alex Hughes' Mindspace Investigations. You won't be sorry!
In this second full-length novel in Alex Hughes' absolutely awesome Mindspace Investigation series, the mind of the killer is sharp; unfortunately, the mind of the telepath investigating the crime is anything but.
Level 8 telepath Adam Ward injured his mental pathways at the end of Clean(incredible, stunning debut) and is left trying to hide his hopefully temporary disability from the school of sharks he works among, otherwise known as the DeKalb County Police Department.
He’s estranged from his only friend and protector, Isabella Cherubino, because saving her life required revealing that he had been resting against her calming mindspace just a bit too often, and that they had accidentally developed a mental “Link”. Now he really can’t stay out of her head, and she feels, rightly so, that he has betrayed her trust.
In the ever-simmering background of the cop shop, there’s the seething resentment of a consultant making the “real” cops look bad with his showmanship, and as the perfect cherry on the sundae, a new round of budget cuts. People’s jobs are on the line, and every cop in the place thinks the first one to go should be Adam, because he’s not one of “them”.
But Adam needs the work. Not just the paycheck, the work. Coming in to solve puzzles, to get bad guys off the streets--to work with Cherubino--is a big chunk of what’s keeping him clean and off drugs.
That and an awful lot of NA meetings and service projects with his sponsor Swartz.
But this case that lands in Adam and Cherubino’s laps turns out to be all about the sins of the past--and it nearly ends both of their futures.
The first murder victim is also the last victim of Adam’s drug addiction while he was still part of the Telepath Guild. His botched mental surgery killed her telepathic gift. Now she’s dead, and one of the other victims is missing.
The cop killer who murdered Cherubino’s fiance has started another serial spree. These things should not be related, but are they?
And while Adam needs desperately to get back into Cherubino’s good graces in order to save his sanity, one of the pillars of his life is struck down--Swartz has a heart attack and the only way to save him is for Adam to strike a deal with the Guild.
He’s not sure who is betraying whom or if it will all be worth it in the end, especially when it looks like the Guild is involved in the entire murder spree, up to its secretive corporate neck.
Escape Rating A+: The Mindspace Investigations series takes place in a gritty and realistic dystopian/post-apocalyptic setting. Even cooler, the setting is a very recognizable Atlanta and its suburbs. I used to live there and it feels right in a just-off-kilter way.
Even cooler, this dystopia is not that far in the future. People then remember our now, or close. The apocalypse inbetween them and us are the Tech Wars, when wired technology went sentient and then viral. We could get there from here.
The Telepath Guild developed to fight tech with human-based mental skills. It makes a sick and twisted sense. But power still corrupts and absolute power definitely corrupts absolutely.
Adam is so very human. Even his name; Adam, the first man. (It’s slightly geeky cool that his name is Adam Ward. I wonder if he was named after Adam West and Burt Ward; the Batman and Robin of the 1960s?)
In some ways, Adam is Icarus, he flew too close to the sun, his wings melted, and now he’s fallen. But the fallen Adam is a better person than the original. He tries harder.
A lot of reviewers compare this series to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, because of the urban fantasy plotline. The comparison doesn’t work for me, much as I love Harry. Dresden borrowed the cops but didn’t try to be part of them, and you don’t get much of the cop shop vibe in Dresden. Also Dresden is firmly fantasy, while Mindspace is absolutely science fiction.
A closer parallel might be J.D. Robb’s In Death series, minus the romance. There’s the same police procedural mystery driving the case, albeit with some different procedures. But also there’s the same looming near-future post-apocalypse in the background. Robb’s Urban Wars and Hughes’ Tech Wars have a lot in common.
Adam and Cherubino are extremely flawed, scarred people. They need each other, but navigating their way toward each other, even as partners, is a big part of the fascination in this ongoing series.
As well as the continuing corkscrew convolutions of the mundane politics, the Telepath Guild and whether the humans in this world are going to draw back from the brink of destruction again. And whether Adam will manage to thwart his precognitive visions of his own self-destruction.
This series is awesome stuff. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Marked.
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident. And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane. Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherabino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...”
This book is quite a change from the first one, as the book begins with Adam struggling to regain his telepathic powers after nearly burning himself out. While he certainly doesn’t sling his powers around indiscriminately, his abilities are further limited by pain and possibility of permanent damage. I kind of wish that the author hadn’t gone the route of depriving him of his powers so early in the series, because I’d like to have gotten a better feel for the Adam with telepathy before seeing him almost totally without it. Also, with Adam struggling less with addiction in this book, it makes the character seem mostly defined by what he isn’t, rather than by what he is.
We may not see much about the addiction in the present, but this book contains some significant echoes of how it affected his past. Readers learn about mistakes he made that turned into tragedy, and also get a bit more of a glimpse into the relationship between him and Kara, his ex-fiancée. Adam carries much of the burden of the book on the strength of his character development, and for the most part, it doesn’t disappoint.
There’s a lot of action in this book too, but readers will need to pay close attention to what’s going on. There are several twists and turns as the investigation progresses, and although I wouldn’t say it gets confusing, there’s a lot to keep track of. Hughes wraps everything up fairly neatly while still leaving some open threads for future novels to explore. In particular, there are hints that the mysteries that we’ve seen over the course of the series tie into something larger. Time will tell if readers can look back and retroactively see the set-up, but so far it seems to be pretty tightly plotted.
I’m a very detail-oriented person, so while I liked this book, I did come away from it wanting a bit more: more on Adam’s telepathic abilities; more on the Tech Wars and the history of this society; more on why telepaths are so universally reviled. The author has a unique world and character in this series, and I hope she can give readers a little more to chew on.
Sharp may not have been quite was I was looking for in a sequel, but it does have good character development, an interesting setting, and a solid plot that should keep readers intrigued. I’ll be continuing to watch this series to see how it progresses.
This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on April 29, 2013.
SHARP, the second book in the Mindscape Investigations series feels like a mash-up of a noir detective series with supernatural elements. Being a big mystery fan I was surprised at just how much the pacing mirrored a mystery series with a lot more methodical detective work and occasional bursts of action. I also liked how technology was feared and outlawed which forced these modern cops to use more of the simpler methods older noir detectives used. Another interesting and at times a little confusing writing choice was the first person perspective where the main character’s name (Adam) is not mentioned for a good chunk of the book.
Adam’s continued struggles with drug addiction and a diminished telepathic ability due to events in the previous book, CLEAN, really make him a compelling, flawed character. I loved that he didn’t sit around and brood over his life and instead continued to find a way to work around his temporary handicap. Adam is an amazing detective even when not using his telepathy but I really enjoyed the moments when he did use his abilities as we got to see a glimpse of just how cool it would be to use telepathy to find a killer.
The relationship with Adam’s partner, Cherabino, who he shares an unwanted mental link with, is an interesting one as they can feel each other’s emotions and innermost thoughts. I wasn’t a big fan of Cherabino as she came off harsh and quick to anger over very small things. Being forced into a position of a mental link does warrant some crabbiness and annoyance with Adam but Charabino’s constant state of meanness rubbed me the wrong way.
If you like procedurals fused with urban fantasy grittiness and mind bending worldbuilding, the Mindscape Investigations series is it. SHARP is a wonderful genre blend of old style detective stories and supernatural with a flawed hero and a fascinating take on a world that outlaws technology.
Another reviewer (Smexy Books) called this “the best series you are not reading. It’s like JD Robb meets Jim Butcher.” This may be the best description for this series. It really sums it up nicely.
One thing that really stuck in my mind while listening to this story is how often the main character’s name is said. In the first book, I don’t think his first name was ever mentioned, but in this book, almost everyone says Adam’s name when talking to him. It was a very noticeable difference. One that had me feeling a bit awkward since the lack of name in the first book had me thinking about him as Alex, and switching to Adam was surprisingly difficult.
The element I really like is the romance. Well, Adam’s attraction since there isn’t really any romance, yet. I hope there is at some point, but right now it’s mostly Adam’s internal thoughts about Cherabino, which are mostly about respecting her character, although he does tend to stare at her boobs a lot. His thoughts tend to be very sweet, which definitely makes me want him to be happy. Cherabino is a great woman, and while she’s a bit hard to read, I think she has a soft spot for Adam, and I approve.
The only issue I have with the book is that Adam tends to repeat thoughts and details about his addiction endlessly. How he craves his drug, how he can’t have it, how this job is the only thing keeping him alive and away from the drug. It gets to be a bit much.
The narration for the story is excellent. The voice fits the character well, and like a lot of series I listen to (ahem Dresden Files), I can’t picture switching to reading instead of listening because the narration just fits too well.
Overall, this was a great story, in a great series. One that is still pretty young (book 4 just released this month), and it’s definitely one I’d recommend checking out.
I find myself having a difficult time reviewing these books. I honestly like them a lot, but so much goes into each story that I'm always left feeling like I have left out something important in a review. So I'm not going to even try to get everything in this review. I'll just tell you about some of the things I like and some of the things I don't like.
I hate that this novel felt so short. I also hate that there weren't to many loose ends wrapped up. The whole Link thing with Cherabino and the SL as far as will he or won't he keep his job as a consultant.
I enjoyed the fact that Cherabino and Adams relationship took a baby step forward, although in truth I can't say if step stayed forward or went backward. the author keeps you guessing like that. I'm assuming a slow build, but you know what they say about assuming.
I disliked tat a favorite character got shot, but truthfully it was bound to happen with someone.
I enjoy Adam's relationship with Swartz, so the fact that it was front and center til the end was great.
What can I sat? The second book was as good as the first. The Guild continues to be a problem for Adam along with his secrets. They always come back to bite him in the ass. If you want a good dystopia in a post Tech War kinda world with a police consultant ex-junkie who just happens to be a level 8 telepath. Then read the book.
I did it! I finally finished this book. I think it took me about a year.
It's not really my style of book, but my husband read the series and he thought I would like it. I liked the first book very much; but, the second book is not sitting well with me.
There is a lot of detail in this book & a lot of build up to the climax - which doesn't happen till the book is almost over. I get the technique; if you have the good part at the end the reader will want to go pick up the next.
Not happy with: 1) I didn't like the debt portion of this story. I'm pulling for Adam to get out of his old ways; but, it seems like he always gets dragged back into it.
2)I'd like to see am take down someone on his own other than have Cherabino rush in and save the day.
3) I'd like him for once to have his full powers & not be so drained by trying to do one thing once.
Happy with: 1) The little bit of back story we got on Kara & Adam.
2) The case was pretty good & had me wondering who was behind it all. Hope they catch him.
Overall: Not too excited about this book. Would probably not read it again & not sure I would read the third.
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Michelle L. Olson: *ARC received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review
It's almost difficult to put into words what this book (and series) have to offer... It's a first person Sci-Fi - told from the point of view of our flawed and yet utterly lovable hero - with the grittiness of Urban Fantasy, the pace and intrigue of a good mystery, and some wonderful action and romantic tension thrown in for good measure, all rolled into an utterly unique and captivating world where Technology is the big bad.
It was a refreshing and fascinating read, with similarities to The Dresden Files, The Asylum Tales, Lost Girl and Sookie Stackhouse, though very much its own beautiful monster. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed it! :)
LITERAL ADDICTION gives Sharp 4 Skulls and would definitely recommend it to Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Urban Fantasy readers.
Hughes writing is up close and personal. The main character's first person narrative pulls the reader into mindspace with him. He is believably realistic, flawed, strong and vulnerable. I can't help but empathize with his situation and struggles. He is all too human despite his telepathy. The reader gets to look at all the major emotions with him from the inside out: love, loyalty, friendship, regret, forgiveness, guilt, revenge, self respect and that ugly little monster who lives inside us all: egocentric self hate. The plot is engaging, complicated and progressing in a larger series plot. Can't wait for the next novel. Thoroughly engrossing read. My mind feels raw from the experience.
3.5 to 4 stars. I am really enjoying this gritty series. Lots of action, violence, self-recrimination, crazy characters and a lead who is addicted to a drug he can't have. He is as moral as he can be while really wanting to fall off the wagon and get high. Urban fantasy police procedural with a tech averse world (tech killed off most people a few years back) and magic users with certain specialized talents running around as the power holders (are they good or bad?) Similar formula in a way to Harry Dresden or Alex Verus but I enjoy those books as well!
One of those protagonists that you really want to smack sometimes due to whiny outlook. But there is growth from his completely unattractive addict personality at the beginning of the first book to not so whiny/start to deal with life at the end of the second. Enjoyed story even without identifying with main character.