November 27

Zero – Matt Brolly

zeroNo 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?


My thanks to Darran at Edpr for the chance to join the Zero Blog Tour


The Zero in the title is for the zero tolerance policy towards crime in this dystopian thriller from Matt Brolly. Society has moved to a stage where all crimes are punishable by death, those convicted of committing a crime are held in prison until they can be “podded”.  Those sentenced to death are  placed into a pod which then slowly travels through the land for a month so that everyone is able to see the fate that awaits law breakers. They are given no food, water is withdrawn after 5 days and the only way out is death.  Prisoners will die of dehydration, unless they elect to take their own life by the push of a button which will fill their pod with toxic gas.  If this option is selected then the pod fills with red gas (so those outside can see the prisoner elected to end their own life).  The pods continue to journey with the body inside until the month is over…it is a bleak concept!

As the pods are such a controversial punishment there are opposition groups who are campaigning to have the pods removed.  The judges will send most offenders to the pods, the police will place criminals in front of judges and this means many people will fear and distrust the judicial process.

At the opening of Zero a judge is kidnapped and the police are called in to investigate. We meet Detective Kate Swanson for the first time and soon come to realise how much of a role the politics of this society will play in police-work. There is a fine balance of investigating and keeping within the political constraints that are placed upon her for Swanson – to get things done she is going to have to reach beyond her authority and tread on a few toes.

Readers get to see who has kidnapped the judge and we learn that there is more than one target.  A bombing at a podding site will cause confusion for Swanson…are the events linked or is the bomb detonation just coincidence?

There is loads going on in Zero and it was not until I reached the end that I was able to fully to fully appreciate what a good job that Matt Brolly had done in balancing the different plot strands in the story.  I noticed that this was the first book in what appears to be a new series – while reading I did feel that some plot lines were being set up for future development (pleasing).

Swanson is an interesting lead character and I would love to read more about her. The society depicted in Zero is bleak and it will be interesting to see if (in future books) a political edge to the stories remains and the podding process is challenged or refined.

Zero is an intelligent and thought provoking thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The “no spoilers” rule is fully applied here but the kidnapper’s motivation and how he executes his plan (including a nasty end-game) is really well depicted – I must admit that in a book of unsettling ideas the end-game was particularly grim.

Really, really enjoyed this (though the podding idea is so very bleak).


Zero was published on 21st November by Canelo price £3.99 as an ebook:

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Posted November 27, 2016 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf