Okay, so back when I did my first recommendation of the Mindspace Investigation series I tried to go along with the gimmick of the first novel, in which the central character’s name isn’t mentioned until the very end. Since this is a review of the fourth book in that series I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the series or you don’t mind having some little details spoiled. If you’re not familiar with the series rest assured, there’s no particular significance to our psychic’s name… I think it’s just done so that his introduction at an NA meeting at the end will seem more significant.
Still, if you don’t want this tidbit spoiled now’s a good time to stop reading.
The great thing about Mindspace, beyond it’s fascinating setting, is the way each book manages to put a new spin on the basic premise. The first three books do it by offering different takes on a paranormal murder. The first two have different kinds of villains, one a powerful psychic the other a “normal” human. The third changes the setting from the Atlanta police force to the mysterious Telepath’s Guild.
In Vacant, book four of the Mindspace Investigations series, things change once again. This time, Adam Ward is going to work for the FBI, and not as an investigator or an interrogator but as a bodyguard. Thus the formula is changed once again. Not only are we seeing Adam in a different venue than previous stories, we’re seeing him working with a different set of skills. In addition we get to see Adam working apart from his normal support group.
While Marked, the previous installment, did see him working for the Guild and in a different venue than normal he still went home at the end of the day and had some contact with his normal life. But in Vacant he’s traveled a couple of hours south and is stuck with the FBI agents he’s working with until the job is done. On the plus side, the FBI seems to value Adam’s abilities much more than the police force he’s worked with in the past.
Ultimately, in Vacant Adam faces a test of character. He’s semiprecognative, able to see potential futures on occasion (although with no control over the gift). He knows the ten year old boy he’s been assigned to look after will die if he does things wrong. But back home things are looking bad for his new girlfriend and the craving for his drug of choice is worse than ever. And there are old enemies that have come to call.
All in all, Vacant is a watershed in the course of Mindspace Investigation’s overarching story and it’s a good one. Fast paced, bringing in old plotlines to tie them up while introducing new ideas at the same time. Adam Ward still has a long way to go before he can sleep easily again but, slowly and surely, he’s pulling himself back up and turning himself back in to a useful member of society. Whether they want him or not.