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Claire North

From one of the most original new voices in modern fiction comes a startling vision of a world where nothing is so precious that it can’t be bought …

Theo Miller knows the value of human life - to the very last penny.

Working in the Criminal Audit Office, he assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.

But when his ex-lover is killed, it’s different. This is one death he can’t let become merely an entry on a balance sheet.

Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.

From the award-winning Claire North comes an utterly gripping, page-turning and thought-provoking new novel which will resonate with readers around the world.


Company men would run for Parliament, Company newspapers would trumpet their excellence to the sky, Company TV stations would broadcast their election promises this is how democracy worked: corporate and public interests working together at last, for the greater good.

Claire North’s latest novel is set in a dystopian, near-future version of the UK where human rights have been abolished and the government is run by a ruthless corporation known as only as ‘The Company’. Under this new totalitarian regime, all civil services have been corporatised.

As an employee in the Criminal Audit Office, Theo Miller is responsible for setting a monetary price for every crime committed. All those who can’t pay are sent to labour camps. 84K is the fine for murder. In the face of a seemingly omnipotent government and a mysterious past he’s trying to conceal, Miller works hard at being nondescript and keeping his head down. His quiet life is quickly turned upside down when an old girlfriend reappears only to be brutally murdered. Her death leads Miller on a dangerous journey to find the daughter he never knew he had, and to bring down The Company.

References to George Orwell’s classic 1984 abound, from the title of North’s novel to her mild-mannered civil servant protagonist. That being said, North fashions a completely original dystopian nightmare fit for the twenty-first century. The rich get richer and the poor pay the price. Clever and challenging, her writing often reads as poetry instead of prose, giving her sci-fi-cum-mystery novel depth and lyricism. 84K is a must read for fans of 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Tristen Kiri Brudy works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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