Marked by Alex Hughes
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.
When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.
Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…”
This book takes readers further into the Guild, the society of telepaths that kicked Adam out after they got him addicted to a powerful drug. It turns out that there’s quite the little power struggle going on behind the scenes. Adam’s ex Kara is fairly deep into the politicking that’s going on, mostly because of her family but some of it on her own account. It turns out there’s quite a bit more to the Guild than just a bunch of telepaths policing themselves. We get a glimpse of what makes the Guild tick, and also what its goals might be.
There’s finally some movement in the “will-they-won’t-they” relationship between Adam and Cherabino. I’m glad that the author didn’t drag the tension out longer (although I wouldn’t say that the situation is fully resolved), because having the drug problem is quite enough for the main character to deal with. This is especially true with Adam being more in contact with the Guild in this novel and being exposed to the conditions in which he initially got hooked.
On that subject, Adam’s fight against addiction is pretty prominent throughout the story. I think he’s a good role model for someone who has successfully come back from the brink but who doesn’t hide the fact that the journey is a difficult one. This isn’t a case of “Go to a few AA meetings and all will be well.” This is a man who is constantly tormented by the demon of addiction, and while time might dilute the craving, it will always be with him.
Overall, the mystery in the story was really well handled. Combining the solving of the murder with the look inside the walls of the Guild gave the plot an extra level of depth that it might not otherwise have had. Hughes has created a strong world and backdrop here, and I’m glad that she’s stretching her writer’s chops and exploring it in creative ways.
Marked is another great entry in the Mindspace Investigations series. Fleshing out the culture in which the main character spent many years gives this book a boost, and Adam’s slowly evolving relationships with those around him give it a good deal of heart. I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.