This novel, illustrated in the original editions, features Gil “The Arm” Hamilton, the detective protagonist of the stories in Flatlander (most of which were published earlier in “The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton). A woman is accused of murder and Gil must clear her name before she is executed and ends up in the organ banks.
The novel is rather short but a solid story from Niven at the height of his powers. If you can get hold of one of the original editions, the illustrations are have a nice retro feel.
Set in Niven’s Known Space, more specifically on the world of Plateau, where the only habitable location is Mount Lookitthat, an area half the size of California that rises above the toxic clouds that range the planet. The crew of the initial colony ship set up an elitist society in which “crew” are first class citizens and “colonists” are lower class. This distinction is particularly noticeable when it comes to medical care. Capital punishment is used even for small offenses. Convicted criminals are harvested for their organs, thus allowing “crew” to extend their lives with transplants. Then a ship comes from Earth with some disruptive new technology.
While not one of the more flamboyant Known Space novels, it is cleverly constructed around some very intriguing ideas. Classic Niven.
All the Gil “The Arm” Hamilton stories collected in one volume with a previously unpublished story. These are good SciFi murder mysteries set in the Known Space universe. It just goes to show that Niven has a devious mind. As he says himself, SciFi murder stories are tricky since the reader must know all the “rules” of the environment in order to have a shot at solving the mystery himself.
Note: Most of the stories were previously published in “The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton”.