Monday, February 23, 2009

Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Private Eye" (as by Lewis Padgett) (novelette, crime)

Quote from short story titled Private Eye by Henry Kuttner and C L Moore, writing under the pseudonym Lewis PadgettA world where we have a device that can see & hear things happening anywhere in the past - upto a range of some 50 years. Cops use it in investigations. But they cannot see inside your mind - they can only observe your external actions.

How do you kill someone & get acquitted, in spite of the fact that cops will see & hear everything you did - including in your life before the crime? That's what Sam Clay will do in this story. Very good read.

Story is a bit longer than necessary, & drags on after acquittal. Parent/child relations is a theme in many stories of Kuttners'. It usually takes the form: "Children will do things that parents cannot; will go places where parents cannot. And that is the cause of much parental heartburn." It comes out most strongly in "Absalom", & is a major theme in "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" & "When the Bough Breaks".

Here we have an variation of "Absalom": Both stories feature a father acting in a way that is not in the interests of the child, though probably with good intentions (from father's point of view). In "Absalom", son is too strong, & there are tragic consequences for father. Here, child is weak, & there are tragic consequences for the child.


  1. I think there is an Alfred Bester novel with an even more stringent constraint on getting away with murder - telepathic society can know murderer's intentions before hand. But I haven't read it beyond first few pages, & cannot recollect the name.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, January 1949.
Rating: A.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of Henry Kuttner, C L Moore. As by Lewis Padgett.


Blue Tyson said...

Hi T, I think 'The Demolished Man' is the one you are after.

Tinkoo said...

Yes - thanks.