In 2019, the AIs went to war. Millions died before a nuclear holocaust brought an end to their brief reign of terror. Billions more succumbed to radiation poisoning, disease, and the chaotic violence of that apocalypse. Some survived. They rebuilt. Twenty years later, civilisation is a dim shadow of its former self. Crime is on the rise.
During the investigation of a routine homicide, Police Officer Ruth Deering prevents a group, claiming to be Luddites, from destroying the telegraph. This act of sabotage is only the beginning. As arrests are made and criminals are caught, evidence emerges that the saboteurs are connected to the AIs, the counterfeiting, and to the assassination. The shadowy figure behind the conspiracy must be unmasked before their fragile democracy is destroyed.
Originally, I'd planned for this story to be spread out over two novels, with part of the third novel set in the US (I think I've mentioned this), leading into a story about a post-apocalyptic Presidential election. I still plan on writing the account of that election, but there is a political element to the next Evacuation novel I'm writing (Zero, out this Spring), and that story takes place in America. I didn't want to write two novels with similar themes at the same time. For a similar reason, this is why this series begins twenty years after the apocalypse, rather than during The Blackout itself. (Though that's another story I do plan to write)
Having removed the US part of the plot (by moving the discovery of a crucial piece of evidence to the beginning of the novel), I could still have made this two books rather than one. It's quite a long novel, close to 90,000 words. It wouldn't have taken much to stretch it out, but I thought the pacing worked better as one novel than two. I hope you'll agree. Anyway, it's one book now, and as Maggie would say, I've made the decision, now I have to own it.
There will be a third (and perhaps more) books set in this universe, but the next will follow the social impact of crime on this struggling society. Being a series of interconnected vignettes, set in Leicester, Kent, Twynham, and elsewhere, it will focus on ordinary people, and their struggles to rebuild civilisation. Or that's the idea I have right now. If the past is any indication, the story will end up as something completely different.
And in the meantime, a reminder of summer (last summer, to be precise. Photos taken by me, of what in 2016 we call Southbourne, just south of Christchurch, but which in 2039 they call Twynham.)
A photograph of the beach huts outside of which, in Serious Crimes, Henry Mitchell arrests Lucas Fairmont, the assistant to the American Ambassador.
And the view out to sea that Detective Mitchell likes so much. Sadly, in my photograph, there are no rusting cargo carries or partially dismantled cruise ships. Well, you can't have everything.