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Summary

In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn't been heard of in 70 years: murder. That's the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D'Courtney Enterprises.

Terrorized in his dreams by The Man with No Face and driven to the edge after D'Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath's knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence.

©1951 Galaxy Publishing Corporation; copyright 1953 by Alfred Bester; copyright renewed 1979 by Alfred Bester; Introduction copyright 1996 by Harry Harrison (P)2017 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Bester's two superb books have stood the test of time. For nearly 60 years they've held their place on everybody's list of the 10 greatest SF novels" (Robert Silverberg, author)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Traci L. Brennan
  • 15-05-18

It needed the visuals of the paper book.

There is no denying that Bester has written a top notch SF mystery. I read it many years ago in book form. While the audio is excellent, there were visuals that needed to be seen to understand some of the story. The conversational patterns just got lost without that visual. BUT...since I had read it before, I could follow along with those. The overall thrust of the story remained intact; I just missed those little things.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 05-08-18

Demolishing the perfect murder

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester is a far future tale of a perfectly planned murder in the context of a society where a portion of humanity possesses mind reading powers. A rich business tycoon plans the perfect murder of a rival, but things go awry when a witness shows up. The tycoon battles a determined police investigator with the highest esp levels. At the same time, the tycoon is battling a personal demon that haunts his dreams that is partly to blame for his paranoid behaviors.

The main sci-fi element is the development of latent "esper" power of the human mind that only some individuals possess to varying degree ("peeping" the conscious, the unconscious, or the subconscious). This effectively precludes someone from lying or hiding information. Major portions of the solar system have been settled, although life in many respects is pretty typical of mid 20th century (the tale is set at the dawn of the 24th century). The use of logic computer for assessing adequacy of a criminal case for prosecution was an intriguing application for its time. Finally, mental illness and criminal punishment is treated by "demolition" whereby the subject's mental construct is broken down and permitted to re-establish itself through an accelerated childhood that recapitulates normal growth.

The narration is well done with excellent character distinction of both genders. Pacing and tone are well aligned to the story, especially given the multiple scenes of nightmares and other related mental instabilities.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful