Book Review: Alex Hughes’ Sharp

Posted July 16, 2014 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’ Sharp



Alex Hughes

urban fantasy that was published by ROC on April 2, 2013 and has 339 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

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

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. Clark hates 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 and Title

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.