A Murder in Dystopia

It's time for another batch of dystopian novels, this time in the mystery/thriller vein. These particular books tend to be stylistically complex and often lyrical, usually set in the not-to-distant future. You will probably also like them if you are of the opinion that governments and corporations have gotten a little too cozy with each other.

84K by Claire North envisions an England where governance has been outsourced to the Company and everyone literally has their price. A man calling himself Theo Miller, a sort of accountant who calculates the fine for each crime, investigates the murder of an old friend and what he discovers drives him to try to take down the system. If you find the stream-of-consciousness, nonlinear style a bit much in print, the audio book may be more up your alley. 

In future California, Ben H. Winters' Golden State, every second is documented and lies are illegal as they dampen trust in the government. Laszlo has a special ability to detect lies, and when he is sent to inspect the death of a roofer, his sense goes haywire with the prevarication he encounters. Once again, a hero is out to battle the corruption he discovers, this time in a society that has a certain resemblance to 1984.

Keeping with the theme of constant surveillance, Nick Harkaway writes of an England governed by the outgrowth of a computer game. The denizens of this country are constantly plugged in so that the System, as it is called, can anticipate every need and desire, policed by a program called Witness. An ombudsman for Witness investigates the death of a dissident in custody, downloading her consciousness into her own and expanding the story line. Harkaway populates his story with multiple cultural references as well as humor.

Asa Avdic's debut mixes And Then There Were None with Orwell in The Dying Game. Anna works for a totalitarian government in Sweden and because of her work, rarely sees her daughter. She has to do one last job for the Chairman, pretending to be murdered on a small island and observing the participants in the investigation as an audition for a position in a secret agency. Things go wrong, and Anna heads up a real murder inquiry. Avdic excels at creating a world creepily similar to our own.

Secularism and religious fanaticism are at war in Richelle Mead's Gameboard of the Gods. In a militantly secular North America, Justin is assigned a bodyguard and brought out of exile to investigate a series of murders blamed on a cult, but something is not right. Taking her time setting up the story, Mead lays the groundwork for a series.

Have more dystopian mysteries? Tell us in the comments.

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