Book Blurb

The year 2623.

A serial killer.

An exploited girl.

A drug dealer.


Four hundred years after Earth established its first planetary colony, resources on the home planet are limited. Earth’s residents are divided into citizens, who have legal rights and a license to live, and the rest. The unlicensed have always been vulnerable, but now, a serial killer is targeting them.

Scarlet is unlicensed. He and his partners exist outside the London walls, making a living by manufacturing and selling illegal lifestyle drugs. None of them expect to make old bones.

Maeve is unlicensed. She’s eighteen, and has survived by allowing a state guardian to exploit her. Now he’s sold her to a brothel outside the protection of London’s walls.

When Scarlet rescues Maeve from her violent owner, he has no idea that his good deed will lead to an accusation of multiple murder.

Suddenly, the security forces are on his tail.

Scarlet flees from Earth to a small hub-station on the edge of unexplored space. Close behind him are Maeve, a serial killer, a killer’s mother, and his two concerned partners.

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A thickset man of medium height approached from the junction, where the road joined a poorly maintained track. He wore a set of cobbled-together body armour and a protective facemask. Behind the visor, magnified eyes focused on her. “Is this the fem?”

“Maeve.” Holbeck released his grip on her hair and pushed her towards the stranger. “Where’s my fee?”

The man pulled a small scanner from his belt. “Give me your wrist.”

Holbeck held out his arm.

Maeve's face heated as she watched the credit transfer. Holbeck was supposed to look after the minors he was entrusted with. He was supposed to help them find proper employment, a job that would give them the chance to become registered citizens. Of course, everyone, including Maeve, knew the odds were against them, but even so, he wasn’t supposed to use them for his personal satisfaction. He wasn’t supposed to sell them. Rage fought with fear for possession of her body, and rage temporarily won. She spun round and launched herself at Holbeck, hands curled into claws. Her nails missed his eyes on her first attempt, but she raked them across his cheek. Traitorous bastard. Exploiter. Lying pond scum.

Blood ran down the side of his face. He squealed and pushed her away.

Maeve launched a ferocious kick at his kneecap. When his leg collapsed under him, she booted him in the face, flung herself on top of him and sank her teeth into his arm, ramming her knee into his crotch at the same time. He yowled and curled into a protective ball. Coward. Slimy piece of shit. She closed her eyes and clung, nails again reaching for his eyes. She’d wanted to do this for a long time.

“Get her off me.” Holbeck screamed at the other man.

Hands grasped Maeve round her waist and dragged her away.

She spat something disgusting onto the ground and grimaced at the metallic taste of blood. “Let me go. I’m going to rip his eyes out.”

“No, you’re not.”

A pulse pounded at her forehead, and her breath came in gasps. As she continued to writhe and to kick at her new captor, he dropped her on the ground. She stumbled, found her balance, and flew at Holbeck again, almost blinded by a killing rage.

A savage blow across the back of her head brought her to her knees and darkened her vision further. She flattened her palms on the ground, bracing herself as the rage drained away, leaving weakness and nausea behind.

“You behave like that with Elise, and she’ll have you skinned,” her new captor said. “Literally.” He grabbed a handful of her hair and dragged her to her feet.



Anne Cleasby lives in the English Lake District with her dog and two cats.

As a child Anne wanted to be a scientist, wear a white coat and explore outer space. She worked as a scientist for a very long time, but never got to fly a spaceship or even travel beyond the solar system. This was a huge disappointment given the reasons for her career choice, so eventually she made up stories instead. Probably just as well, as she is claustrophobic.

Anne writes dystopian fiction (Degrees of Freedom series) and science fiction under her own name, and urban fantasy/paranormal romance as Annalisa Carr.

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