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Literature / Very Bad Deaths

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A 2006 novel by Spider Robinson. Russell Walker is a political columnist for a Canadian newspaper. He is inadvertently dragged into the hunt for a serial killer when an old friend who happens to be a telepath shows up at his door one night.

This book provides examples of:

  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: How Zandor finally kills Allen. Despite only involving one telepath, it was a real battle, as Alan's vile thoughts are so evil as to be weaponized. Zandor considered this a last resort, because he had sworn he would never do so . . . again.
    • "I made his selves disbelieve in himself."
  • Blessed with Suck: See A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read below.
  • Coldblooded Torture: Allen's repertoire includes drugs to enhance pain, drugs to prevent his victims from passing out, a perfect painkiller that lets him break every bone in someone's body then allows them to contemplate the excruciating pain they're about to experience.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Zander, the telepath, finds close proximity to almost anyone distinctly uncomfortable. When he finally comes in close contact with Allen, this becomes a distinct disadvantage. Merely being close to a mind that viciously demented is torture for him.
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  • Most Writers Are Writers: Russell, the main character, is a political columnist for a Canadian newspaper.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Apart from his difficulty dealing with the mental noise most people generate, Zander is also in hiding to avoid being drafted by any number of intelligence agencies.
  • Police Are Useless: When Russell gets a police officer to listen to him, she can only help him as a civilian because the police can't legally act on any of the (scant) information he has on Allen.
  • Writer on Board: The narrative occasionally lapses into lectures on why marijuana is great and conservatives are evil. Fortunately it's not too distracting for the most part.