Since I have just finished a paranormal thriller about a telepath (OK, she’s an empath, but let’s not parse details!), This month I was craving a similar genre-novel featuring a protagonist with ESP. They seem to be surprisingly hard to find, at least for what I’m looking for. What I didn’t want was another ‘Medium’ clone: psychic as a super-powered CSI. I wanted something that was more like Marcus Sakey’s BRILLIANCE or Daniel O’Malley’s THE ROOK, which I really enjoyed.
Jason Brant’s ASH scratched that itch. It’s the story of an Irag War veteran, Ash Benson, who sustains a brain injury that unlocks his telepathic potential. The book opens with a harrowing battle scene, in which Ash is injured, and in many ways, this scene was the highlight of the book to me. Very suspenseful—even though, based on the blurb, you kinda know where the action is headed.
Several years later, Ash is back stateside, living as a semi-vagrant. Since the day his brain was traumatically altered, he can’t stop hearing the thoughts of everyone around him. Not unless he drinks. Ash just wants to be left alone, but events pull him into a bloody conspiracy that suddenly explodes, threatening the lives of hundreds including the President of the United States. These lives are being threatened by another psychically powered former-soldier whose abilities are stronger and more varied than Ash’s. Luckily, the author fills the book with colorful and capable characters who are ready to lend Ash a hand.
But none of the characters are as memorable as Ash himself. To me, he seems like a unique protagonist in the paranormal genre. He’s a BIG man, a former Marine, a gym rat, and a bit of a slob, who can’t ever seem to find time to shower. Think Professor X, if he walked, drank Creatine, wore Family Guy shirts, and dabbled in Mixed-Martial Arts. Before the book ends, Ash has found his weapon of choice, the Desert Eagle, which is this decade’s version of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum.
That weapon—and Jason Brant’s hero—fits the plot, which is heavy on action. It’s part Carrie, part Call of Duty. If that sounds like a fun time to you, I suggest you check out the Ash series!