I think this was in a PKD short story, but can't remember the title.

Someone gets killed and there is a robot on scene, gathering up evidence. Each successive physical clue - hair, footprint... - narrows it down from the billions of people on the planet, so that, at the end the murderer is found. 10 clues if I remember correctly.

Except that the culprit might have been wrongly identified too, either by a mistake or deliberate deception.


This could be PKD's story The Unreconstructed M. It starts with a machine breaking and entering the apartment, planting false evidence and killing its target.

The small machine sneaks into an apartment and leaves behind a single follicle of human hair, two small grains of tobacco, and other small pieces of evidence. It then destroys a video recorder. A man enters the apartment and the machine shoots him in the head with an explosive pellet. The machine drops a few more items and hides by turning into a portable TV set as some people came in responding to the shot. They wonder where the murderer has gone. He came in through the window, it is clear, but how did he escape?

A detailed summary can be found here.

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  • The whole story can be found here. – user14111 Jan 27 '18 at 9:43
  • Interesting. I need to read first, but it only sounds familiar. First, the story was really really short, maybe 2-3 pages. Second, you get the sense of ordered progress, a solution being reached step by step, until the last clue shows the flaw in the deductions, which is near the end of the story. That wouldn't happen here, apparently, sounds like you know the robot's off (and did it) earlier on. Last I don't recall anyone but the robot or any dialogs. Looks familiar though and this was a long time ago. I'll read it. But PKD has his pet themes so maybe it's another one. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Jan 27 '18 at 15:41
  • quickly browsed through it. only the very beginning seems familiar, this is way too long. +1 though, good suggestion for my request – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Jan 27 '18 at 17:36
  • OK, so it is the same story. I wonder if I read some excerpt concerning only the evidence matching. Or if my memory kind of tuned out the rest of the story, which somewhat runs flat after the bit that caught my interest. But, yes, good call. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Sep 29 '18 at 1:25

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