The stunning new novel from the award-winning Claire North, one of the most original voices in modern fiction
'AN EERILY PLAUSIBLE DYSTOPIAN MASTERPIECE' Emily St. John Mandel, author of STATION ELEVEN
'AN EXTRAORDINARY NOVEL . . . with echoes of The Handmaid's Tale' Cory Doctorow
*CLAIRE NORTH SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES/PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD*
From one of the most original new voices in modern fiction comes a startling vision of a world where you can get away with anything . . .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 electrifying and provocative new novel which will resonate with readers around the world.
Praise for Claire North:'Poignant and intensely gripping' Guardian
'Ambitious, immensely humane and full of philosophical panache' Sunday Times
'One of the fiction highlights of the decade' Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club
84K is the fifth novel by British author, Claire North. Theo Miller (not his real name) works at the Criminal Audit Office. When a crime has been committed, his job is to calculate what the cost to the guilty will be. It can be a little complicated, but he has formulae and algorithms to guide him. It’s a job. He hasn’t given much thought to what happens to those too poor to pay. But then, from his deep past, when he wasn’t yet Thomas Miller, comes Dani Cumali, wanting him to help her find her daughter. His daughter. Could it be? When he finally overcomes his reticence, it’s too late: Dani has been murdered. Her case crosses his desk at work, and after the legal wrangles are done and her assassin pays a paltry 84,000 pounds (84K) to avoid jail and publicity, perhaps that’s when it finally sinks in for Theo: it gets personal. What The Company, the one that effectively runs the country, doesn’t realise is that Dani has dirt on them, important dirt. And her last words to Theo were “She’s your daughter. Don’t f##k it up.” Theo’s had a pretty mediocre go at life; could he do one good thing? Could he save Lucy? And ensure that she has a better life? Perhaps the best dystopian stories are those that vary from the way of life with which we are all familiar by a matter of mere degrees. The suspension of disbelief required is then minor and that makes it all the more alarming. North achieves this with consummate ease. Most of us have by now experienced victim blaming and lesser rights for aliens (Trump era): North takes it just a bit further, so that Thomas’s Criminal Auditing job, the epitome of dehumanising crime, is not such a far stretch. We’re already seeing gated communities, relocation of the aesthetically distasteful poor, corporate sponsorship/ownership of sports teams and venues, privatised public services (police, hospitals, prisons) with the attendant increase in prices and decrease in service. The world North presents is not so far from that; in fact, it rings so frighteningly true that we have to hope she’s not too prescient. While most of the story is told in two time periods, there is, throughout both, constant recall of past events, as well as multiple echoes of recent incidents, repeated almost like reminders. While times are not clearly marked, the context precludes ambiguity. And despite the nature of the tale, there is humour, some of it quite dark: Theo is unable, as he commits all manner of crimes, to stop himself from auditing his own misdeeds in a running mental commentary. Topical and salutary, this is another brilliant read
Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated author whose debut novel was written when she was just fourteen years old. She is fast establishing herself as one of the most powerful and imaginative voices in modern fiction. Her first book published under the Claire North pen name was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which became a word-of-mouth bestseller and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The follow-up Touch received widespread critical acclaim and was described by the Independent as 'little short of a masterpiece'. Her next novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope won the 2017 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and her recent book The End of the Day has been shortlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. She lives in London.