Conditioned to enhance an inborn ability to acutely perceive another's emotional state, Klavik, security director of a massive world ruled by the sole monarchy in neohuman interstellar society, investigates the ruler's assassination while on holiday in parsecs-distant Eden, a terraformed pleasure world operated by a distant syndicate peopled by alien exotics. A pair of royal companions force themselves upon Klavik during his sojourn in Eden, where his empathic perception “sixth sense” enables him to fasten on a nervous official as a prime suspect to interrogate, but is frustrated because his energies must be channeled toward protecting his illustrious companions. Eden's planetary director, Shatterhand, ushers the threesome into a “hall of mirrors” where nothing is as it seems. After feints and ploys designed to distract or frighten he and his charges away, Klavik senses “nibblings” at the limbic fringes of his mind, and intuits the the presence of an alien telepath. Sly mental assaults persist until his charges are taken hostage, and the ultimate confrontation erupts in a rapacious battle of wills.
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Mind Games by William Walling is a futuristic fantasy murder mystery. The plot thickens quickly as Klavik the Kraan State Security Director, accompanies Prince Kewart and Prime Minister Kurani to the pleasure world of Eden following the mysterious and violent death of Kewart ab Kraan, Esemplastos, His Omnipotence XXIV. Klavik’s intent to ferret out the truth of the matter is hindered by the irascible and combustible Prime Minister, and the impetuous youthfulness of the crown prince. Klavik must try to find out the truth behind the death of His Omnipotence and still tread the dangers of intergalactic intrigue with political deftness.
Klavik is gifted with an ability to discern the emotional states of the beings around him, thus knowing for the most part where their true feelings emanate, and the level of truthfulness and openness with which they communicate. In a world populated with neohumans and androids, he navigates through their secrets to pull together the clues and answers he needs to solve the crime.
Mind Games is a good mystery with a solid plot and convincing action. The narrative, however, is so stylized with pretentious prose that the pace of enjoyment is slowed considerably. Although infrequent and not glaring, editing, spelling and grammar errors add to the confusion. A good sci-fi mystery read if one has the time to work through the narrative.