My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Political espionage and mind-reading: Sounds like either a really good story… or a dog. But Goldin puts together a great yarn about a great telepathic spy, Alain Cheney, who discovers that his medical condition, one that eventually befalls all telepaths—the aptly-named “telepause”—has doomed him to a “forced retirement”… with extreme prejudice. Just at the time when he should be heading an investigation to penetrate a secret project on his assigned planet, Cheney finds himself on an internal hit-list instead. But he doesn’t plan to wait for the slaughter.
What follows is Cheney’s flight from his former-allies-turned-executioners, while hoping he can find a way to extend his life beyond the expected madness and death caused by telepause, and incidentally, to leave a positive mark on the world before he goes.
Unlike many authors, Goldin does a great job handling the concept of telepathy without making it seem hokey. He also spins an exciting, thrilling and believable tale of a spy’s valiant efforts to stay alive, and the help and hindrances he meets along the way.
Throughout the book, the characters seem very real, not super-heroic or infallible, and the situations don’t stretch the bounds of acceptance. The story does take place across a series of worlds, including Earth, where FTL travel isn’t an issue, and an alien race exists outside of the human worlds; but if you don’t have a problem with the idea of telepathy, you should be okay with overlooking lightspeed travel and aliens.
Overall, an excellent tale that has convinced me to check out the sequels in the series.