I read a thriller/sci-fi novel about 15 years ago involving a government program using telepaths as spies. This is during the Cold War, so the Russians have a competing program. The down side is the telepaths die very young from their powers.
I recall they called the telepaths "Aces."
I seem to remember the hero running off with his girlfriend and making a living by winning (very easily) at poker. Oddly, I also recall a circus being involved in the big finale.
The big reveal is :
The government actually fakes the disease and kills the telepaths young to prevent them running off or gathering too many secrets.
Two clarifications: This is not the film "Speed of Thought" from a couple of years ago, in fact that movie is the reason I ask the question. The plot is identical, but the movie does not reference the book I read at all. Also, it is not from the "Wildcards" series of super-hero books, even though they both use the "Aces" label for powered people.