This SF book was written by a writer known more for mysteries. Came out back in the 80s or 90s, maybe even the early 2000s. It was a hardback. Set in a dystopian future. A group of criminals, bandits or whatever, all males, numbering around 4-6. One member is needlessly violent. One is a young man or boy with retardation or some other mental handicap. I think he was the main character, though not the leader of the group. The boy stops the group leader from killing the violent one at one point. They break into a home where there's a small gap in the perimeter scanners of the home and this is where the incident of the boy stopping the violent one being killed occurs. I only read about 1/4-1/3 of the book, so I don't know how it ends or what the major story theme was. It was a full length novel, not a short story. The setting was, I think, a wasteland with isolated pockets of modern technology. The home they break into was off by itself, I think. The book was recent or new when I read it. I think the group leader wanted to kill the violent one because he had needlessly killed one of the people in the house they had invaded. I'm reasonably certain it was a male author. It may be some obscure, flop book by someone already mentioned below.

It is not "A Clockwork Orange".

I've had this question up at a few other sites for a good while. Please, if you would, limit the suggestions to specific books. Suggestions of an author haven't been productive, as you can see by the list below.

Books suggested and eliminated:
A Clockwork Orange
The Children of Men
Come Armageddon
This Perfect Day
Blood Meridian
Purity in Death
The Tomorrow File
Dark Life
More Than Human
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Authors that have been suggested, but I haven't found a specific book by that matches. It doesn't mean that it couldn't something by one of them, just I couldn't identify it:

Fredric Brown
Isaac Asimov
John D. MacDonald
Donald E. Westlake
P.D. James
Lawrence Block
Rex Stout
Robert B. Parker
Dick Francis
Robert Crais
Ross Macdonald
Erle Stanley Gardner
Ron Goulart
Andrew Vachss
Andrew Greeley
Loren D. Estleman
Walter Mosley
Kate Wilhelm
Iain Banks
Dana Stabenow
Caleb Carr
Philip Kerr
Jack Vance
Lawrence Sanders
Harlan Ellison
Thomas M. Disch
Stuart M. Kaminsky
Frank M. Robinson
Thomas Scortia
Peter Lovesey
Reginald Hill
Jonathan Gash
Peter Robinson
Leslie H. Whitten Jr.
Richard Bachman
Ira Levin
Sheri S. Tepper
Ed McBain
Evan Hunter
John Dudley Ball
Rick Boyer
Dan Wakefield
Ruth Rendell
J. D. Robb
James Patterson
Dean Koontz
Peter F. Hamilton
Michael Moorcock
Dennis Wheatley
F. Paul Wilson

I've also looked at these lists:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5526900/top-10-greatest-science-fiction-detective-novels-of-all-time https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/mental-retardation https://riyl.wikispaces.com/file/view/Booklist-Disabilities.pdf https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/85171.Disabled_Characters_in_Fantasy_Science_Fiction https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/71257.Special_Needs_in_Strange_Worlds

ETA: I don't remember anything about the cover. The story opens with the retarded male and the group. There are no female characters that I recall in the part that I read. I thought the author was Donald E. Westlake for a long time, but I couldn't find anything by him that matched. I think the author was male and used a middle initial on his books. It was an adult book, not YA or juvenile.

  • This question would be improved by going through the checklists here; How to ask a good story-ID question? – Valorum Jul 27 '18 at 22:13
  • 1
    I think you should reconsider The Children of Men by P.D. James. – Spencer Jul 27 '18 at 22:21
  • Dystopia scifi by mystery author - Dan Simmons comes to mind. – Doug T. Jul 28 '18 at 23:15
  • I'll take another look at The Children of Men, but I'm fairly sure that isn't it. – Bargle Jul 29 '18 at 12:24
  • Doug T., do you have a specific book/series by Simmons in mind? He's written a lot. – Bargle Jul 29 '18 at 14:16

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