He had it all. He was a Level Eight telepath, specializing in Structure. With a lot of time and work he could rebuild a person’s mind, bringing people out of comas or restoring sight to people who hadn’t seen in years. He was a respected member of the Telepath’s Guild, the body governing psychics in the U.S., and eventually got a job teaching his skills to others. He was engaged to marry into a powerful family, and he was just one of a group of likeminded, idealistic and very talented people who were likely to chart the course of the guild for years to come.
Then he volunteered to help out one of his friends with a research project. The purpose of the project? To see if psychic abilities could be enhanced with the use of mind altering drugs.
Now he has no Guild status, no girl and plenty of guilt. He also has a nearly constant craving for Satin, a substance that not only doesn’t enhance the abilities of telepaths but has been outlawed by both the Government and the Guild in the time since he got addicted. He has next to nothing. He isn’t even allowed to handle his own money, on the off chance he might go out and blow it all on drugs.
What he does have is a job for the Decatur Police Department. Mostly he works the interrogation rooms, asking questions and gauging people’s reactions to them in more ways than the typical cop. Of course, with a bunch of felony charges related to his druggie days he can’t testify or work full time, but he can ask questions so long as another witness is along to back him up. And every so often the Homicide detective who pushed so hard to get him his job pulls him out of the interrogation rooms to take to the field.
You see, the world around us isn’t just shaped by our hands and feet, by the objects we take with us or leave behind. It’s also shaped by our thoughts and feelings, the joys we spread and the grudges we hold close. But those thoughts and feelings don’t leave marks in physical space, they leave them in Mindspace. The Guild doesn’t routinely send telepaths out to work with normal, telepathically deaf cops. He is unique. He and Detective Isabella Cherabino go out to murder scenes. There, she looks at the physical evidence and he looks at the Mindspace.
Browsing around in the places where people have died is no fun. In fact, it’s a profoundly disturbing experience. But he does it all the same. Part of this is pure pragmatism. The more time he spends solving murders, the more time he’s not getting high. Three years is a long time clean, and he has no desire to fall off the wagon. Well, that’s not true, he just has more desire to stay on it. And ultimately, that strong desire to stay clean is rooted in the past.
He had it all. Now he has nothing. Nothing, that is, except for a chance to make a difference. He can’t safely remodel people’s minds anymore. But he can find killers. Maybe, just maybe, that will be enough for him to sleep at night.
Mindspace Investigations is a series of stories by Alex Hughes. There’s two short stories and three full length novels, and they are excellent in a number of ways. Obviously, Mindspace world is a sci-fi setting. It’s not just the telepaths. Hughes’ world is set after the Tech Wars, when sentient machines spawned blood borne computer virus and nearly ended humanity as we know it. There’s a strange blend of technologies running around – flying cars juxtaposed with pen and paper. Antigravity building techniques are commonplace but paranoia about wifi runs rampant. Technology isn’t allowed to come even close to thinking for itself. Computers are now controlled technology.
In this kind of a world, a telepathic forensics consultant does a lot to push investigations forward. There aren’t nearly as many fancy technology investigation techniques as you might expect in the future, but there’s still plenty of good old fashioned police work in these books. Following the money, interviewing all the witnesses, the whole nine yards. And since psychics are required by law to inform people of their telepathic abilities before anything learned by telepathy counts as legal evidence gathering techniques… well, it can all get quite complicated.
But not as complicated as not using the protagonist’s name for the entire first book. That’s ridiculously complicated, and it makes writing reviews about them complicated, too. Less thrilled with that than many other aspects of the series.
Still, if you like flawed but relatable characters, good world building or whodunnit’s of just about any stripe, Mindspace Investigations might be right up your alley.