Intense, brooding and unsettling: Red Plus Zone combines psychological murder mystery with thoughtful science fiction to create a book you won’t be able to put down. It’s only January, but I would put money on this being the best detective novel I’ll read this year.
Red Plus Zone takes place twenty minutes into a future where life has been disrupted by the Shattering; an event that caused different parts of the earth to experience time at different speeds, leading to zones where time runs faster than normal and zones where time runs slower. This causes obvious problems for a police force trying to solve a high profile murder case. To give you an idea of these problems I’m going to steal the product description from Amazon:
It’s been eight years since The Shattering, the day that time unravelled.
On a windswept moor there’s a body, brutally nailed out across a fracture.
One half of the body has been dead no more than an hour or two whilst the other half, ravaged by the passing of decades within a Red Plus Zone, is little more than a skeleton.
The author of Red Plus Zone, Andy Ritchie, should be applauded for such an intelligent and unique novel. The world is currently flooded by murder by numbers detective books, where a grizzled detective with rough edges, a drinking problem and a good heart bucks authority to solve the crime. This is not one of those novels. The lead detective, DCI Sam McCall, is more careworn than grizzled and instead of a drinking problem he is overly fond of sweets. Don’t be fooled by this, however, as there is nothing saccharine about Red Plus Zone.
Detective novels by their very nature touch on how our past lives with us, but Andy Ritchie uses this shattering of time to bring this idea to the forefront of the readers mind in such an original manner. The tone of the novel is reminiscent of Nordic Noir but with some very British, and clever, touches that give it a character all of its own. Showing how the British obsession with tea would persist in such a world with dwindling resources was a particularly nice touch.
A good detective novel should be like a knife, sharp, to the point and pure in its functional brutality of purpose. Red Plus Zone fits this criteria to a tee. This is because Andy Ritchie is a very direct writer, whose concise style is well suited to the detective thriller genre. Too many detective and mystery novels currently coming out of publishing houses are too flabby and under edited, Red Plus Zone only gives the reader the information they need and nothing more.
I don’t know if any sequels are planned but, just in case, I suggest you go out of your way to buy the first installment immediately and give yourself a head start on the crowds.
You can buy this Red Plus Zone on Amazon, and you should do so now.