Brain Twister

Cover image for


Published: 1961
Language: English
Wordcount: 41,793 / 129 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 76.1
LoC Category: PS
Series: Psi-Power
Downloads: 17,283
Added to site: 2007.08.16 17947

In nineteen-fourteen, it was enemy aliens.
In nineteen-thirty, it was Wobblies.
In nineteen-fifty-seven, it was fellow-travelers.
And, in nineteen seventy-one, Kenneth J. Malone rolled wearily out of bed wondering what the hell it was going to be now.
One thing, he told himself, was absolutely certain: it was going to be terrible. It always was. (1962 Hugo Award Nominee.)

Show Excerpt

ed him in a remote sort of way. Not that the idea of telepathy itself was alien to him--after all, he was even more aware than the average citizen that research had been going on in that field for something over a quarter of a century, and that the research was even speeding up.

But the cold fact that a telepathy-detecting device had been invented somehow shocked his sense of propriety, and his notions of privacy. It wasn't decent, that was all.

There ought to be something sacred, he told himself angrily.

He stopped walking and looked up. He was on Pennsylvania Avenue, heading toward the White House.

That was no good. He went to the corner and turned off, down the block. He had, he told himself, nothing at all to see the President about.

Not yet, anyhow.

The streets were dark and very peaceful. I get my best ideas while walking, Malone said without convincing himself. He thought back to the video tapes.

The report on the original use of the machine its


Average Rating of 4.2 from 14 reviews: *****
Dai Alanye

Randall Garrett has a number of good books and stories to his credit, but the Malone series, such as Brain Twister, are lightweight efforts at best.


Slow starter, I almost gave up but am glad I kept reading. Things pick up and become very entertaining once "The Queen" enters the scene. I will be searching out and reading more from these authors - "Mark Phillips" = Garret & Janifer.

Felix Adebayo

It's a good read.
Her Majesty, the telepath who helped to unmasked the traitor is a character full of style and suspense. She adds colour to the novel which otherwise must have been boring. It's a good read in science fiction.


Liked it, quick read, likable characters


Excellent. Love the psi-FBI series. You people have to read The Impossibles and further follow Malone's career.

Garrett is now a favorite author of mine!


I agree with the other reviewers; a fun read.

The most celebrated FBI agent is recruited to catch a telepath in the Yucca Flats Research Lab who is selling national secrets. The agent has been very successful in past cases, but he really feels rather low, because he thinks he is just lucky and not good. He caries this attitude throughout the story, acting like a depressed puppy.

So how do you catch a telepath? With another telepath, of course. There is a stop along the way to check out a catch-22 telepath detector machine which will only detect if someones mind is being read, maybe. The nationwide search for telepaths turns up several, but unfortunately, they are all in mental institutions and loonier than Bugs Bunny. The FBI boss orders the agents to humor the crazy telepaths (one not so crazy after all) so they will help catch the criminal.

From there, the story takes you along with the Queen of England and her costumed court (the FBI agents), a buxom nurse, a night in Vegas complete with a car chase and attempted shooting, and finally the showdown in the Flats.



Science-fiction which also manages to be very funny is a rarity indeed. Exceptionally well-written and paced with the most brilliantly - and deliberately - stereotypical characters juxtaposed against charming eccentrics, this is a most enjoyable lightweight read.


“The Brain Twister” is a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi / mystery story.

There’s a telepathic spy at work, but this is really just a MacGuffin that works to send the hero, Malone, chasing across the country and hanging out with the certifiably insane. So the resolution of the telepathic spy thing is a non-climactic climax. But what with Malone, Queen Elizabeth, the delectably pneumatic Miss Thompson, a gun battle, and some high-stakes poker, well… there’s some good readin’ here, friend.

The whole thing is tongue in cheek, and the authors play with genre elements typical to classic sci-fi and to mysteries. The language is probably the most obvious of these. The prose is “The Brain Twister” is so hard-boiled you could chop it up, add mayo, and use it to make a sandwich. You’ve got manly-men and girlly-girl(s) and love and violence and everything you want from the best of pulp SF. It’s all there and it all works well. Just don’t look for any meaning beyond the surface: this novella is meant to be enjoyable, and it is just that, nothing more.


Cute mystery story where the characters really make the story. Sci fi based but only slightly as the real story is the characters, even if you don't like scifi I think you will enjoy this book. A great fun read.


The same book also appeared under the title "That Sweet Little Old Lady" and is also available here - pick one, don't bother with the other.
In the same series, "The Impossibles" (also under the name "Out Like a Light") and "Supermind" (also under the name "Occasion for Disaster") appeared.

The book is about the FBI finding out that one important space-motor project is spied on by a telepath. The discover this with the help of a machine developed by them (this part is actually pretty fishy, as it contains some very unlikely things the author thinks he needs for the narrative, covered by some pseudo-scientific babble).

"Set out a thief to find a thief", they decide and try to find other telepaths to find the spy. Being telepathic seems to turn people mad (and the only telepath they ever knew off, now dead was an imbecile), so the search begins in mental hospitals all over the US. The search is successful - what a pity that inhabitants of mental hospitals often have their own idea of reality - and now the FBI has to go along with it to humor them.

The book is quite amusing and well-written. If you like detective stories, you can guess along for the identity of the spy, and you get a fairish chance of solving the problem before it is revealed.

Except for the telepathy-detecting machine (and telepathy itself), there are no weird or extremely unlikely twists to the story, but there are some good laughs along the way.



I have really enjoyed this piece of SF, i stumbelled across it and didnt feel sorry for myself...........
After reading it, i cant wait to read the other 2 parts in the series..... really looking forward to those............

I recommend this book to every one....

its funny
its fiction
its sweet
its nice

thanx for this book everyone

R Stephan

Very funny but still the most believable scenario of how the FBI discovers their first telepaths. Don't miss it.

Bouke W.

Great book. Very funny. Quite interesting subject too.

Steve L

One of the funnier science fiction books I have come across. I enjoyed this very much.



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