Saturday, September 15, 2012

ARC Review: Clean by Alex Hughes

Author: Alex Hughes
Publication: Roc (September 4, 2012)

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.

My Thoughts: CLEAN is a new urban fantasy with a unique main character. He is a very powerful telepath who has been kicked out of the Guild because of a drug habit. The Guild controls, educates, and certifies for employment those who have strong psychic abilities. The Guild saved Western Civilization during the Tech Wars but had to get very scary to do so. Now, by treaty, they govern their own and keep their own secrets. 

Our hero now works for the police primarily as an interviewer and battles his addiction. Because of a recent lapse in sobriety, he is not trusted by very many of the police officers he works with. But when he and his partner/mentor Isabella Cherabino are called to the scene of a recent murder, our hero recognizes that this has to be a crime committed by psychics. Besides being a telepath, our hero also occasionally has precognitive visions. He has one that tells him the he and Cherabino are in danger from a psychic attack in a warehouse that greatly damages Cherabino and kills him. He is determined to watch Cherabino even though she doesn't really trust him and hates the idea that he could be reading her mind. Our hero also has to work with his ex-fiance at the Guild when he needs information from them to track down the one who is doing the killing. 

This was a tense, action packed thriller as the police and our hero have to track down a killer. The world building was interesting. The anti-technology bias and the rising power of the Guild were there in contrast to police procedures that would fit right in with any contemporary mystery novel. Psychic gifts from telepathy to telekenisis to teleportation to precognition were all present in this world. Those with psychic gifts were generally feared and avoided. 

You will note that I haven't given our hero's name. Since the story is told in tight first person and no one addresses him by name, we don't find out the name of the main character until the second to the last paragraph of the book. I think that the fact that no one calls him by name is just a symptom of his total isolation throughout this book and how much his lapses from sobriety have ruined his relationships with the people around him.

Our hero attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings with his sponsor Swartz but he is still always looking for his next fix of Satin. His constant craving for a drug that he knows can kill him is woven through the book. We truly see inside an addict's mind. But we also see that his ethics and values are not totally gone. He is determined to protect his friend Cherabino even when his relationship with her is rocky. He wants the Guild to the right thing even though he hates the Guild for kicking him out.

I really enjoyed this urban fantasy and will be looking for more by the author. I really want more about these characters too and hope things get better for the main character.

Favorite Quote (May not be final):
I gave up and crossed my arms. "Cherabino and I are fighting. There's a trail of dead bodies all over the city that may or may not belong to some guy who's going to attack us in a warehouse in a week or so -- a guy we can't find -- and Paulsen has cut me out of the conversation with the Guild. Me! When I was the only reason they'd talk to the police in the first place. I choked through talking to Kara...for what? Nobody's listening to me!"
I was approached by the author to read this eARC. You can buy your copy here.

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