The Demolished Man

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Author: Alfred Bester Published: 1951 I read: Early July 2006 Non-spoilery short description:
In a future with telepaths, getting away with murder is difficult. But with great power and a natural ''killer instinct'', the head of a major corporation thinks he just might be able to.
Totally spoilery summary:

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|<td>Ben Reich is pissed, and having nightmares of a Man With No Face. His Monarch company is slowly losing out to rival D'Courtney. He offers a merger... but is refused. He decides to take out Craye D'Courtney, hsi business rival. He does so with decent pre-planning and bribed Esper Gus Tate for assistance, and is only foiled by the victim's daughter Barbara being an unexpected witness. She goes a bit crazy and runs off. Investigator Lincoln Powell quickly realizes Reich is guilty, but spends most of the book finding the evidence so it can be proven objectively. Eventually he finds Barbara, and through some new therapy she goes through a sort of rebirth and acts young (though quickly growing), but he can still investigate her firsthand view through telepathy. Reich enlists more help to keep unfound, and turns on several of these helpers when things go wrong, adding to the death count. Eventually the evidence is in, and... there's no case? As it turns out, D'Courtney had accepted the merger offer. Reich subconsciously tricked himself into thinking otherwise, though, to avoid facing the truth: he's actually D'Courtney's illegitimate son and wanted to kill a father who'd abandoned him. This other part of his personality is the Man With No Face, and had set boobytraps attempting to kill himself, feeling guilty when the law failed to get him. Powell learns of this and realizes that a free Reich with so much power, so few scruples, and able to get away with so much would be a really, really, really dangerous thing for humanity, and convinces the other Espers to aid him in a Mass Cathexis Measure, whereby he basically messed with Reich's perception of reality until he confessed. Reich is then put through Demolition, the ultimate punishment. Demolition is not capital punishment, though, but some sort of psyche erasement. Though a person may have been bad, their ability to commit a major crime shows ability, so somehow they can start a person anew but with a similar drive pointed positively. It's also discovered Barbara is a low-level Esper, which is a convenient thing for her and Powell, as they've fallen in love and Espers are only supposed to pair with Espers by rule of the Esper Guild.</td></tr>

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