Over the past two years, I’ve read and really enjoyed the first two books in the Mindspace Investigations series by Alex Hughes. It features a hero with very strong telepath skills who is also a recovering drug addict and a heroine who works for the police department and reluctantly becomes his partner. I like to say it’s Jim Butcher meets J.D. Robb. Set in the future, with paranormal suspense, our hero Adam reminds me a lot of Jim Butcher and the romantic relationship (and I hesitate to imply romance quite yet) reminds me a lot of Harry Dresden and Murphy. Very snarky, hard-working relationship that has just a hint of romance. The world is really great and the stories are very engaging. Book three, Marked comes out next week. If you want something fun to read this weekend, definitely check out this series.
Alex Hughes is stopping by today to give us a brief summary of the characters in this world.
A Quick Guide to the Major Characters of the Mindspace Investigations series By Alex Hughes
Adam Ward: Tall, lanky, sallow, brilliant but flawed, he’s a highly competent telepath who’s very good at his job, although he still struggles to stay on the wagon. He’s his own worst enemy, but he has a strong system of ethics and he gets personal satisfaction from doing his job well. He does the right thing, even when it hurts him.
Detective Isabella Cherabino: Curvy and striking with long hair, Cherabino has a confident way of moving that comes from her martial arts training. She’s brittle and cranky to the hero, a workaholic with a tragic past and a bit of a loner. But she has the highest close rate in the department and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
Lieutenant Paulsen: A strong sixty-something policewoman and leader with a dark complexion and soft wrinkles, Paulsen is willing to make waves to get the job done. She runs the largest section of her police department with a shrinking budget and increasing crime, and she does it well.
Swartz: A thirty-year veteran of Narcotics Anonymous, Swartz has been helping others stay clean for decades. He has a deep patience, a no-tolerance approach to bullshit, and a quiet wisdom he’ll share whenever the situation calls for it.
Kara: Tall, blond, and thin, she was the main character’s fiancé until she betrayed him to the Guild years ago. Now she works as the Guild’s main liason to the Atlanta police and public.
Read the books to follow these characters – and to meet Bransen, Bob, Michael, Andrew, Piccanonni, Clark, Stone and more. It’s a big world out there, and even a telepath needs help along the way.
An excerpt from Marked by Alex Hughes. All rights reserved.
“He’s been in there ten minutes,” I said.
“There’s a line, you can see it through the door. And besides, you were the one who wanted real food,” Cherabino said. “Listen, why did you push Michael with his father anyway?”
“I didn’t know it was his father,” I said.
“You haven’t been paying attention then.”
She sighed, and time passed.
“You’re brooding again,” Cherabino said.
“Am I?” I looked up, and noticed the shields between us had thinned. “I’ll try to do it quieter.”
“You can’t let all of this stuff eat at you, it’s not healthy. Plus I have to listen to it through that Link of yours. I’m not a telepath. Normal people shouldn’t have to listen to people brooding. They shouldn’t, damn it.”
“It’ll fade,” I said, a quick, habitual protest.
“It’s fading already, maybe,” she said. “But it’s not gone yet. Anyway, try to cheer up, okay? Michael will be fine, he just needs a little time.”
She sighed, moved some papers around, and pointed to the glove box. “Here, open that.” A picture flashed between us, a picture of a nice pair of black men’s gloves set in a box. She was nervous, somehow.
I had to force myself not to comment on the image or the emotion; she hated it when I jumped ahead. So I pulled open the compartment she’d requested.
A wrapped package in garish paper sat self-consciously, just the size of the box of gloves I’d seen in her mind. I picked it up. What did she want me to do with it?
The thought must have leaked across the Link, because she said, “Open it.” She swallowed the added “idiot.” I felt it go by but said nothing.
Apparently I was the only one here who wasn’t allowed to jump ahead.
It was a truly hideous wrapping paper. Her niece’s school sales project, her mind supplied. Twelve ROCs a roll. I opened the paper, pulling the bow off and ripping into the paper, which did not deserve reuse.
Inside was a linen-paper box, the expensive kind, with a pressed seal on its top outlined in ink. Some logo I didn’t understand. I sat there for a minute trying to figure out what the lines were trying to represent.
She pulled the box out of my hands and lifted the lid, offering it to me. “They’re gloves.”
“I see that.”
She pushed the box back into my hands. I took it, cautiously, in case she wanted it back.
“For you. They’re for your birthday, Adam. I looked it up. Your birthday is tomorrow, right?”
I stared at the gloves, uncertain. I mean, they were just gloves, right? “Yeah, my birthday is tomorrow.” She’d never given me anything before. Crap,
I’d never given her anything either. I’d thought we weren’t birthday people. To be honest, the only person in the world right now who cared about my birthday was Swartz, or that’s what I’d thought.
She pulled one out of the box. “See, they’re hydropolimat. They maintain body temperature better than wool but they don’t get too hot, and if you get blood on them at a crime scene, they’ll wash clean. They also have a built-in protective layer, so as long as you don’t leave the gloves in a puddle or anything they’ll keep the blood and mud and ickies away from your hands. They’re nice gloves.” She paused then, glove in hand. “I’m hogging your present, aren’t I?”
She plopped the glove back in the box, and it settled half-in, half-out, on top of its brother. Then she settled back in the seat. “Sorry.” Thoughts buzzed around her head like bees, none settling into permanency and she’d remembered enough shielding I didn’t get them by accident.
The sun was falling into the car through her window, puddling on her face and behind her head like a halo. She looked away for a moment, and her profile was illuminated, as was the skin beneath the button on her shirt still unbuttoned near her neck. She had a beautiful neck, and those breasts—
I clamped down on my thoughts and looked away before I embarrassed myself. Back at the gloves. They were just gloves. But they almost made it worse. She cared, maybe. She cared. And what I felt, the deep things I felt and what I wanted, well, they were all about birthdays and Christmases, Thanksgivings and New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, year after year, gifts and promises and—and things I couldn’t have, I told myself sternly.
Swartz said I couldn’t have a relationship until I could keep a plant alive, and I had twelve dead plants lined up in a row in my apartment.
“Aren’t you going to say thank you?” she demanded.
“Say thank you, damn it. It’s customary when receiving a gift. You know what, never mind. Idiot.”
I looked back over, and if anything she was more beautiful than ever, even angry. Her mind, open, if I would dare to touch it.
Michael tapped on the back window, and it was suddenly a flurry of dealing with food and napkins and paper.
I tucked the gloves away in my coat, carefully. Happy Birthday, Adam. Happy Birthday.