I am looking for a novel that I read in the late 80's, involving a telepath committing murders.

The book itself was fairly old even then, so was probably written in the 60s, 50s or earlier.

Here is a general breakdown of the plot as I remember it:

The story was set in the U.S. contemporary to when it was written, so early to mid 20th century. There were no sci-fi elements like space-travel, aliens or anything like that.

The main character is gathered into a group by character A and his best friend in order to do a study/investigation into the possible existence of psychic powers. After some exposition they hold a test, similar to a seance, where said supposed psychic powers are expected to make a top spin or pages turn or something similar (I don't remember exactly).

Then character A is murdered, though at first it's believed to be suicide. A repeat of the test reveals that something psychic is happening.

Eventually the main character figures out that character A was murdered by his best friend, who is the telepath. The friend had been "puppeting" character A since they were children to be better - winning at basketball, jumping off a short cliff into a lake, feeling brave in the face of danger, etc...

But character A discovered this when he once tried to do something alone (which he and his friend had done many times) only to fail - revealing that his friend had been psychically boosting him. This is what led to him starting the investigation and eventually causing the friend to dispose of him. I think the "friend" thought of character A as more of a pet than anything.

I'm not entirely sure, but I have a recollection of the main character fighting another puppetted person, jumping on the rails of a roller-coaster, while the murderer sits on a bench below and watches.

Eventually the murderer dies and the main character awakens his own psychic powers.

I think he may also have "assumed control" of the love interest, who the murderer had also been puppeting.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to the site. Good description here. If anyone correctly identifies the book you're looking for, you can mark that answer as accepted by clicking on the check mark beneath the voting buttons, as per the tour. May 9, 2022 at 18:07
  • 2
    Welcome to SF&F! This is a very good first question! I just noticed what might be a typo that could be confusing....I'm guessing that the sentence, "There was sci-fi elements like space-travel, aliens or anything like that." was meant to say, "There were no sci-fi elements like space-travel, aliens or anything like that." If my guess is correct, you may want to edit it; it is perhaps a typo?
    – Basya
    May 9, 2022 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


I'm throwing this out as a WAG, even though I've never read the book in question, because the plot synopsis is so reminiscent of the 1968 movie "The Power" which was based on a novel of the same name by Frank Robinson. The publication timeframe works out.


  • 1
    Yes, I have the book and it matches the description. I can edit the blurb from the back of the book unto your answer if you want. May 10, 2022 at 5:17
  • That's it, yes. Thank you very much.
    – Ruskbyte
    May 10, 2022 at 9:33

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