Sharp by Alex Hughes

Sharp: A Mindspace Investigations Novel
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident. And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane. Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherabino’s longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all…”

This book is quite a change from the first one, as the book begins with Adam struggling to regain his telepathic powers after nearly burning himself out.  While he certainly doesn’t sling his powers around indiscriminately, his abilities are further limited by pain and possibility of permanent damage.  I kind of wish that the author hadn’t gone the route of depriving him of his powers so early in the series, because I’d like to have gotten a better feel for the Adam with telepathy before seeing him almost totally without it.  Also, with Adam struggling less with addiction in this book, it makes the character seem mostly defined by what he isn’t, rather than by what he is.

We may not see much about the addiction in the present, but this book contains some significant echoes of how it affected his past.  Readers learn about mistakes he made that turned into tragedy, and also get a bit more of a glimpse into the relationship between him and Kara, his ex-fiancée.  Adam carries much of the burden of the book on the strength of his character development, and for the most part, it doesn’t disappoint.

There’s a lot of action in this book too, but readers will need to pay close attention to what’s going on.  There are several twists and turns as the investigation progresses, and although I wouldn’t say it gets confusing, there’s a lot to keep track of.  Hughes wraps everything up fairly neatly while still leaving some open threads for future novels to explore.  In particular, there are hints that the mysteries that we’ve seen over the course of the series tie into something larger.  Time will tell if readers can look back and retroactively see the set-up, but so far it seems to be pretty tightly plotted.

I’m a very detail-oriented person, so while I liked this book, I did come away from it wanting a bit more: more on Adam’s telepathic abilities; more on the Tech Wars and the history of this society; more on why telepaths are so universally reviled.  The author has a unique world and character in this series, and I hope she can give readers a little more to chew on.

Sharp may not have been quite was I was looking for in a sequel, but it does have good character development, an interesting setting, and a solid plot that should keep readers intrigued.  I’ll be continuing to watch this series to see how it progresses.

Also by this author: Clean

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on April 29, 2013.

Series: Mindspace Investigations
ISBN: 9780451465047
Publisher: Roc
Page Count: 352
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
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