By Claire North

The end game of capitalism is looking grim in this dystopic novel by Claire North.

England in the near future has become a place where everything has a price and nothing is of value, including human life. Theo Miller, who works in the Criminal Audit Office, has this brought home to him when forced to do an appraisal on the murder of an old girlfriend who is also the mother of a daughter he’s never met. The total comes to £84,000.

Theo’s subsequent search for his daughter leads him on a journey across a blighted country, encountering various strange characters along the way and involving him in a resistance movement looking to bring down the corporatist government.

It’s a thrilling plot, but it takes a back seat to North’s vision of the grimy future, with its deserted towns, soulless bureaucracy, vile factory-processed food, and night sky the colour of excrement. There’s a physical texture to this world that helps make 84K a bracingly distinct and compelling read.

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