November 2016

‘Zero’ by Matt Brolly

No crime will go unpunished

A zero tolerance policy results in the death penalty for all crimes, no matter how minor.

When a judge is kidnapped, and a ransom note demands the release of all prisoners awaiting execution, kleptomaniac Detective Inspector Kate Swanson is put on the case.

But soon her boss also disappears. Under increasing pressure from her superiors, and caught between the security services and the growing social unrest, Swanson must race to find a man whose murdered wife and daughter link the missing men.

Can she find him before it’s too late?

I read Matt’s first book in the DCI Michael Lambert series and thoroughly enjoyed it.  So when I was offered the opportunity to read and review ‘Zero’ I eagerly took it.  Now I have to be honest and say that I am not usually a fan of sci-fi or dystopian books, but I thought that a change would be as good as a rest and it would be interesting to read a book in a new genre.

The plot of the book is fairly straightforward in that a judge goes missing and DI Kate Swanson is tasked with investigating the case.  The disappearances continue and there are more twists and turns in the story than on a rollercoaster ride.  Can Kate solve the crime before it is too late?  The interesting aspect to this dystopian tale is that there is a ‘Zero’ tolerance attitude to crime and anybody falling foul of the regime is put into a pod, which then travels around the area on a little railway type system to act as a deterrent to future potential criminals.  The pods are rather gruesome and it’s true that they become a living hell, which is the point I suppose.

Reading this book was certainly very interesting and it was a unique idea.  I did like the idea of a ‘Zero’ tolerance attitude towards crime  but what I wasn’t too sure of was the idea of the pods travelling around the area.  I have a vivid imagination and so I pictured what happened to the occupants of the pod when things got to be too much and it wasn’t pretty.  I suppose the idea is similar to what they used to do to criminals hundreds of years ago in that they decapitated them and displayed the heads to act as a deterrent.

Characterwise, I did like the character of DI Kate Swanson and took to her moreorless from the start.  She is a woman dedicated to her work and this often comes at a cost to her personal life.  She shares a very close relationship with her work partner DS Joseph Keane and it’s safe to say that there is a fair amount of unresolved sexual tension.  (You will have to read the book to see what happens).  Her mother passed away when she was younger and it emerges that Kate’s mother fell foul of the ‘zero tolerance’ system, which haunts Kate Swanson and always has done.  Every time she sees the pods she thinks of her mother.  Kate has a close relationship with her father.  DS Keane is certainly a smooth talking charmer, who uses his good looks, charm and personality to get results, even if it means blurring the lines of what is acceptable conduct.  I have to say that the villains of the book are truly frightening psychopaths and there is no  limit to what they will do.  Sometimes I almost had to read the book through my fingers as I genuinely dreaded what was in store for the victims.

In short, I did enjoy the change in genre and I would definitely recommend this book to anybody.  I look forward to reading further books in the DI Kate Swanson series.  I award this book 4* out of 5* and Matt Brolly is clearly an author to watch and he is destined to become one of THE popular authors.

(Many thanks to Netgalley and Canelo for an ARC)


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