The Demolished Man (Mass Market) - Alfred Bester An enjoyable story that combines a murder mystery with SF. I liked it, but was a bit let down after the awesomeness that was _The Stars My Destination_. Once again Bester introduces an sfnal change to the world and logically posits some of the possible changes that would result in society: in this case it is psychic ability.

The most obvious impact that Bester examines is the way in which crime and policing will be affected by the fact that a fairly large segment of the population can at least sense, if not outright read, the thoughts of others. Thus in this world a premeditated murder has not happened for 70 years, primarily due to the existence of the Esper Guild, the mandatory society of all espers who live under a strict code of conduct...the angle on being able to stop murder before it happens reminded me of Philip K. Dick, though of course Bester did it here first.

Along comes Ben Reich, one of the richest men in the solar system, and someone with both the resources and the willpower to get what he wants when he wants it. Ben Reich is also a man with a problem in the form of his biggest business rival Craye D'Courtney. When overtures of a more peaceable nature are apparently denied he decides it's high time that he proves that he is the one man on the planet that can get away with murder.

Enter Lincoln Powell, class 1 telepath and police prefect. Lincoln is equally driven and just as resourceful as Reich. what ensues is a game of cat and mouse between the two, as each attempts to thwart the other using every resource at his disposal.

As I said the story is enjoyable, but it seemed a bit more dated to me than _The Stars My Destination_. While some of the changes Bester made to his society made sense and certainly changed elements from what we know today, other aspects of it felt a lot like nothing much had changed since the 1950's and 60's, the era when the book was written. For some reason I also started to lag a bit near the middle of the book, but, as thus far has always been the case with Bester, he manages to turn things around at the end and make me see the whole as much greater than I thought it might end up being. The climax and finale of the book were especially enjoyable and had elements that made me think of the best aspects of the classic Twilight Zone series...not exactly an unforeseen conclusion, but one that was constructed just right.

All in all an enjoyable read, if not one that totally blew me away.