I read this story in the mid-late 1970's, although it may be older based on the tech.

What I can remember of it is as follows:

  1. It starts out as a basic murder mystery.
  2. The "detective" finds that there is not just a lone victim.
  3. Eventually he finds that homeless and others that won't be missed are all being rendered down for the chemical components.
  4. Possibly the raw materials are being sold, i.e. it's just a money making scheme.
  5. The imagery I associate with it is all very dark...

Sadly, I can't remember the ending…

3 Answers 3


It sounds a bit like the movie Soylent Green (1973), which is based on the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), but the people were being re-cycled as food, not simply as "raw materials."

I have not read the novel, but from my memory of the movie years ago, it involved a murder investigation, and the poor and under-privileged were prime targets.

  • 2
    Thanks, but no joy, I know Harrison's books quite well and Make Room! Make Room! isn't the one. (Oh, yea - sorry about the dangling preposition ;) )
    – Craig
    May 30, 2013 at 21:53

This meme is incredibly common [WARNING! TV TROPES LINK]- and there are many, many stories and books which match your description. If you have time, check the tropes link, and your story may be one of (many) the listed example

  • 1
    Have I said many yet? Many. May 30, 2013 at 18:51
  • 1
    Thanks for the link but no joy was found. Maybe I'll have to go back to the old home town and see what I can find in the libraries lending records (pre-1990 isn't on computer but they do have the records apparently).
    – Craig
    May 30, 2013 at 21:47

not chemical components, but disassembled and sold for spare parts, in Larry Niven's Flatlander (http://www.amazon.com/Flatlander-Known-Space-ebook/dp/B001TLZEUK) where criminal gangs abduct people that won't be quickly missed for the illicit organ trade.

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