Book Review: Alex Hughes’ Clean

Posted February 11, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Alex Hughes’ Clean



Alex Hughes

urban fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by ROC on September 4, 2012 and has 340 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Sharp, "Payoff", Marked, Vacant

First in the Mindspace Investigation urban fantasy/police procedural based in a dystopian world that fell apart when computer viruses, well, “ate” the world. The series is based in Atlanta.

My Take

There was a very real quality to the story, enhanced by Hughes’ treatment of his male protagonist. Adam screwed up. Big time. Now he’s struggling to cope with his addiction, the scorn from everyone with whom he works, and his own attraction to his partner.

Hughes certainly paints a depressing picture, and yet it feels so accurate in terms of someone battling an addiction. Kicking at the 12-step process, kicking at the whole apology requirement, kicking at everyone else who wrecked his life. We get a hint of what started the downward spiral, and even that is couched in terms of someone else’s fault. I am curious as to whether it turns out to be a “plot” to take him down. It would be consistent. It appears as if no one likes the guy, and yet he still has some ethics left from which he won’t back down.

The story is very much from Adam’s point of view. It’s all I, I, I, BUT don’t let that or my comments above leave you thinking he’s self-obsessive, it’s simply a convenient device to get us into his head. It certainly provides interesting insight into how to interview suspects! And there’s the struggle he endures to explain his telepathy to his hostile co-workers. Oh, boy.

I enjoyed how Hughes used the telepathy to create issues between Adam and Cherabino as he keeps inadvertently picking up conversation that’s only in her head and responding to it. It sets up the antagonism very quickly. It becomes more interesting when we learn she’s also attracted to him, but doesn’t want to be.

Hughes does well in setting up this world and providing enough backstory that I didn’t feel lost and yet leaving out enough to make me want to come back for more. In fact, most of the story is all about setting up the series with the case Adam and Cherubino are working holding it together. And held together very well. There is no sense of the dreaded info dump! Yeahh!! I didn’t pick this up until I started going through my notes.

It’s a future with flying cars, but everyone is terrified of computers. Getting an email forces you to go through layers and layers of security — and no one would have it any other way.

Oh, the going gets a little tough, and he weasels out?

The Story

It starts with Adam’s typical day: interviewing suspects using his telepathy before being dragged out to “read” a scene where a NOTa-serial-killer-victim’s body is found.

As much as Adam might want, the clues ain’t lyin’, and no one wants to call in the Guild. Least of all him.

The Characters

Adam is a highly qualified telepath, a Level Eight, who got kicked out of the Telepaths Guild due to his drug addiction. Due to politics, he’s still under the Guild’s jurisdiction because of his high skill level and must walk a fine line between openness with the police while hiding Guild secrets. He’s employed as a consultant with the police, mostly interviewing the hardcore. Swartz is Adam’s 12-step sponsor. They meet daily, sometimes twice daily besides the frequent check-in phone calls. Man, that’d be enough to keep me from getting addicted! How does he have time to have a life?

Detective Isabelle Cherabino holds his chain. She’s supposed to be Homicide, but also works Electronics. Pete is/was her husband and an assistant DA. “Sergeant Branen is the head of Homicide and Cherabino’s boss.” Annnd, he doesn’t like Adam. Lieutenant Maria Paulsen is Adam’s boss. Michael is a junior cop with a lot on the ball. Claudia Piccanonni is the GBI lead profiler. Bob has an implant, a cybernetic worker, who can process computer data almost faster than the computer. He’s shunned because of the implant. Ethan Ricks is a jerk, too interested in throwing his weight around. Bellury seems to be one of the few cops who are okay with Adam. Andrew specializes in accounting issues and has a small Gift.

Joey the Fish is a small-time operator who rose in the ranks due to Adam’s spilling on all the big fish. Maloy is his absent boss. The Darkness is a crime family in Atlanta with Garrett Fiske head of the Southeast group.

Kara Chenoa is the Guild’s public relations attaché, Adam’s former fiancée, and the one who ratted him out. Logan is her current husband. Dane was the friend who died, sending Adam into that desire to drug away the pain. Stewart was Dane’s friend and researching drugs to improve telepathy. Adam’s source. Jason Bradley took over from Dane. Jamie Skelton is the sergeant’s ex-wife and the woman who ran the Precog department for more than twenty years. Neil Henderson is a practical joker, worked in research, and more recently as a Tuner. Rashim is one of the black ops guys.

Jonathan Evans is the head of gland production for Ultrate Bioproducts.

The Tech Wars almost destroyed the world when superviruses ran amuck — think Terminator. The Koshna Treaty Accords let the Guild police their own — when they do it — and gives them Homeland Security-type powers. Yup, life and death in their hands.

The Cover and Title

The cover makes me think of John Taylor from Simon R. Green’s Nightside series — a man in a white overcoat has his back to us, his arms away from his sides as though he’s going for his guns against a lit-up city backdrop of skyscrapers.

The title is sweet. Adam battles his desire for a hit throughout until the end when he discovers the reasons he wants to be Clean.