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Literature / Mindspace Investigations

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The Mindspace Investigation books by Alex Hughes follow a Telepath who works for the police in the capacity of a Living Lie Detector. The books take place in a setting where a significant portion of the population are psychic.

The books in the series include:

  1. Clean (2012)
  2. Sharp (2013)
  3. Marked (2014)
  4. Vacant (2014)
As well as a few novellas:
  1. Rabbit Trick (2014)
  2. Payoff (2013)
  3. Fluid (2015)
  4. Temper (2015)


  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: In Clean, illegal humblades are described as being able to cut concrete like butter.

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  • Archaeological Arms Race: In the Mindspace Investigation Universe, advanced technology is no longer prevalent in the culture due to the death and destruction caused by the Tech-Wars. Throughout the books, it becomes clear that certain groups are trying to actively acquire technology that would give them an edge over certain other parties. The Guild is secretly building new Tech and supporting a new political group called Guild First, who believes war with normals is an inevitable outcome. In Marked, it is revealed that certain blueprints, bodyarmour, and Tech that has the potential to harm telepaths is being created, possibly the government or other unknown parties.

  • Badass Normal: Isabella Cherabino. She has a black belt in something Asian and deadly.

  • Big Bad: Fiske

  • Big Brother Is Watching: Stone is this to Adam when the voluntary tag is in place.

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  • Biomanipulation: Some Guild telepaths have the ability to manipulate the body on a biological level. This can range from something as small as moving a few molecules / nudging a few neurons around in the brain to being used for healing a person medically.

  • Blind Seer: The main character has mentioned in later books, there exist Guild members who are physically blind, yet they can still see by using telepathy to view the world from someone else's mind.

  • Brought Down to Normal - At the end of Clean, and continuing to Vacant, Adam has sustained a brain injury resulting in him not being able to preform telepathic duties. While it has recovered, he is no longer the level 8 telepath that he once was.

  • Brainwashed: Rex threatens to do this to Adam if he doesn't participate in the investigation in Marked. Specifically brainwashing all Adam's work to be clean.

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  • Castfrom Calories: Teleporters expend huge amounts of energy transporting between locations. As a result they usually need to eat a lot more a lot more often.

  • Cop Killer: Motivation behind the investigation in Rabbit Trick. Also, Bradley gets this label when he kidnaps Cherabino combined with the precog warning that she'd end up an Empty Shell

  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of Clean is a man in a white duster/longcoat, with what might possibly be a gun, in front of a couple of sky scrapers. However, the main character is never described as wearing a white duster/longcoat, nor does he carry a gun.

  • Cure for Cancer: Averted, since the world is so polluted that cancer is a regular occurrence, for which there is a cure called 'The Flush'.

  • Cut-and-Paste Note: Sent to the judge Marissa in Vacant. Doubles as Fridge Brilliance when you realize that Cut-and-Paste Note is an outdated trope due to the prevalence of computers in society. Except - In the Mindspace Investigations universe, technology is not prevalent due to the fallout from the Tech Wars. Thus creating a Cut-and-Paste Note would be one way of concealing your identity.

  • Cross-Cultural Handshake: Since it can be problematic to touch telepaths, telepaths are usually greeted with a nod, versus a handshake.

  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Dekalb County, Georgia is described this way. A pollution laden city with flying cars and floating buildings. The setting is described as a Polluted Wasteland, where the pollution levels regularly cause cancer.

  • Days of Future Past: The setting largely. The events of the books take place 50 years after the Tech Wars. While the people of this time posses future-technology, they also lack enough of it that the procedural aspects of the show resemble 90's investigation techniques.

  • Death by Falling Over: This happens to one of Fiske's employees. Adam later finds their death is part of the reason Fiske is pursuing revenge against him.

  • Diabolical Mastermind: Fiske is this to the criminal world in the Southern United States. The cops are trying to put together solid evidence to stand against him. But he makes it very difficult. Fiske also is presented as a very capable and smart character. There is enough evidence to suggest he is a The Chessmaster. His ruthlessness also puts him in The Mob Boss Is Scarier territory.

  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Clean Bradley does this. Adam's offence was rejecting his proposal in a Jerkass way. To which Bradley believed the only available action was to kill people to steal their ability, become stronger, kidnap and hurt Cherabino, and murder Adam.

  • Driven to Suicide: One of his students that Adam shredded does this, as he does not see a future without telepathy.

  • Emotion Bomb: Adam does this at the end of Sharp as a final attempt to incapacitate his attackers. Averted with Tamika, because she is Mind Deaf as a result of Adam causing her a Fate Worse than Death.

  • Enforced Technology Levels: After the Tech wars it is very hard to get technology or use it. Cherabino's has access, but even it, is heavily restricted.

  • Fantastic Drug: Satin. The higher your telepath level, the more it will hook the user.

  • Forensic Accounting: Andrew does this, often times creating leads for Adam and Cherabino to follow.

  • Frameup: This happens to Cherabino by Fiske, in order to hurt Adam and as revenge for entering his home. See also I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure

  • Hardboiled Detective: To some extent Adam.

  • He Knows Too Much: In Clean the reason Neil was killed.

  • Howthe Mighty Have Fallen- Adam. Once a brilliant professor, engaged to an affluent woman, who had the respect of his peers, and had a very elite ability, - after becoming addicted to Satin, he lost his job, his fiance, his friends, and to some degree his ability. related: Sometimes he will reminisce about his Glory Days.

  • It's Personal: Adam seems to run into this a lot. The crimes he investigates always seem to have a personal component. His feuds with Tamika and Fiske really exemplify this trope.

  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Guild Enforcement has the power to be exactly this.

  • Kill and Replace: Raymond does this in Payoff

  • Longevity Treatment: These exist within the Mindspace Investigations universe, but they are very expensive.

  • Mind Control: In the short story Rabbit Trick, Adam stops a cop named Bull from pulling a gun on him, with his mind.

  • Mind-Control Device: In Sharp and Vacant Sibly has one.

  • Mind Rape: Adam admits to doing this to one of the men in Vacant that the FBI needed to interrogate. It crossed an ethical line and violated the man's consent and privacy.

  • Mindlink Mates: Adam and Kara were this once. He seems to have formed another with Cherabino somewhat.

  • Mind Virus: The Madness, also see Infectious Insanity.

  • Muggles: Normals often view telepaths poorly and with fear. People like Clark go out of their way to voice their dislike.

  • Omniglot: Adam has the ability to pick up languages easily from the mind of another. His understanding of french comes from his link with Kara.

  • Organic Technology: Most implants in the future have an organic component, and have to be synced with the recipient via a telepath.

  • Power-Strain Blackout: After the events of Clean, Adam is damaged, and when he strains to much he can pass out.

  • Psychic Nosebleed: This happens to Adam at the end of Clean, while fighting Bradley.

  • Psychic Link: The result of Minding another human being. Adam and Tommy form one in Vacant.

  • Psychic Radar: Adam's works up to about 1/2 a mile.

  • Psychic Static: In Clean, Adam states that reciting multiplication tables is actually a pretty effective method of keeping a telepath from reading your mind.

  • Psychic Surgery: Adam used to work in deconstruction. He had the ability to bring people out of a coma or preform other amazing tasks with his telepathy. Guild issued medics also have the ability to use their power to preform some version of this to heal patients at a very high cost.

  • Recovered Addict: Swartz. Also, post Clean, Adam is basically this, but still struggles with his addiction day to day.

  • Squishy Wizard: Adam is a strong telepath, and he has the ability to put people to sleep without even touching them. However, due to his chain smoking habit, his lungs aren't strong enough to do much physical tasks like running.

  • Telepathy: The whole premise of this book is that the main character is a telepath, in a world where telepaths are known to exist.

  • The All-Concealing "I": The first book Clean is told from a first person perspective. The main character's name is not revealed until the very end, signifying a change and the completion of his character arc.

  • The Order: The Guild

  • The Plague: One effect of the Tech Wars was the release of a virus that targeted those with implants. Millions of people were killed in an instant, as a result.

  • The Sponsor: Jonathan Swartz.

  • The Unapologetic: The main character has a lot of trouble apologizing for anything. This gets him into trouble in Sharp where the final moments of that book could have been mitigated if he hadn't given such a Backhanded Apology to Tamika

  • Touch Telepathy: Telepaths have a much easier time reading a person via touch. Telepaths usually wear a purple Guild symbol to indicate they're telepaths to ward people off from actually making physical contact with them. Touching a telepath can actually kill.

  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Adam's precog vision in Marked triggers Cherabino to assault Fiske's house, which results in Fiske taking revenge, which fulfills the vision.

  • Sensory Overload: In the first book Adam gets this from being within the proximity of all the cops at the station. He is a level 8 telepath with a one-ninety valence rating, which translates to being able to read about 95 out of every 100 people. He is constantly being disturbed by almost 4 floors worth of cops minds.

  • Sick and Wrong: In Sharp, the victim's house's mindspace is described this way. Due to the domestic abuse that happend here, while it looks like a cute family home, the mindspace is loud, screaming, and polluted. It makes Adam sick to set foot in the area.

  • What Have I Done: Adam has done this a few times. But the worst of which was shredding his 3 student's minds while high as a kite

  • Wizarding School: Guild Training takes gifted children in, and gives them an education on how to use their powers. Adam use to be a professor for one of the classes at the Toppenguild Guild Institute in Tennessee.

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