TITLE: City of Zero
In a city where a zero tolerance policy on criminal activity results in the death penalty for all crimes, kleptomaniac police inspector Kate Swanson leads an investigation into a number of disappearances. Against a backdrop of social unrest and anarchy, Swanson must locate a man called Old Blue whose murdered wife links all of the missing people.
Inspector Kate Swanson knew the junior officer who was standing by the courtroom doors watching her. Flaherty was flushed with excitement. He looked so desperate to get Swanson’s attention that for one horrendous second, Swanson thought he might shout over to her. Swanson turned away and looked back towards Judge Livermore. The accused, William Crampton, sat to Swanson’s right on a separate table with his lawyer. Little more than a child, Crampton had been arrested six months ago for petty theft after stealing a bottle of vodka from a supermarket - a dare from his fellow gang members. Dressed in a prison jumpsuit, his narrow eyes stared at the judge. Swanson listened to the familiar sound of the verdict followed by the equally familiar sentence.
There was only ever one sentence.
The boy barely reacted. Swanson had seen the weary look of resignation countless times before. No doubt the hope had been ground out of him during his probationary incarceration.
‘Court dismissed,’ said the Judge.
Flaherty was by her side in seconds. In his ill-fitting uniform, he looked like a schoolboy playing dressing-up games. He smelt of nicotine and sweet aftershave. He pulled at the clip-on tie dangling from his throat. ‘Ma’am,’ he said.
‘What is it?’ asked Swanson.
‘It is Judge Lloyd, Ma’am. He's missing.’