I love dystopian fiction and I have also been looking out for books that feature strong female leads. British thriller author Matt Brolly introduces us to a future where zero tolerance is the order of the day. Convicted felons are placed inside of glass pods for thirty days. These pods travel around the city until the offender runs out of food and water, essentially starving to death. There is a way out for them via a suicide button that releases a red gas, killing them instantly.
‘Zero’ is a story of two halves. The first half being slow and a little pedestrian at times, whilst the second half is really excellent. Detective Kate Swanson is put in charge of an investigation, looking into the disappearance of a judge. She is paired up with Keane, who is a bit of a ladies man and too often seems to think with his trousers first. The chemistry between the two is a a little awkward as Swanson is attracted to Keane , though she doesn’t wish to get involved with him. Their relationship is at times uncomfortable and their supervisor doesn’t like Keane either and he’s not afraid to let him know about it. The first half of this book is slow going. The pace is a bit of an issue that thankfully is resolved just before half way where things step up dramatically. The plot twists and turns with more people beginning to disappear and the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place. A gruesome ending that sort of comes from out of nowhere is most welcome and really shakes things up. Detective Swanson is a good character, though she just seemed to miss a certain something to makes her stand out, but hopefully we will learn more in future books. Keane, for all of his flaws was also interesting. The kidnappers motives are very well depicted and his reasons put a very original spin on things. As I said before, when the book does pick up pace during the second half it is excellent. The future city is also very interesting and the conflict over the use of the pods between its citizens is a constant issue The fact that when the offenders die inside of the pods they continue their journey around the city is both haunting and harrowing.
‘Zero’ definitely has a “book 1 in a series” feel to it and the plot could’ve progressed a little quicker during the first half, but this can be forgiven as from the mid-point onwards I could not put it down. It is a really good crime thriller, with a cool concept of being set in the future and despite a sluggish start I did really enjoy it. I’ll be looking forward to more from Swanson and company.
Pick up a copy from here.