Edinburgh, 2020. The Enlightenment that swept through the city years ago has virtually eliminated crime, along with individuality, spontaneity, blues music, and anything citizens might have wanted to do after the 10 p.m. curfew. So it’s a matter of considerable concern when the Public Order Directorate discovers that guardswoman Knox 96, a.k.a. Sarah Spence, has been murdered in a way eerily reminiscent of the Ear, Nose, and Throat Man, whose horrible mutilations still haunt the public memory since his last killing five years ago. Edinburgh’s official guardians immediately summon Quintilian Dalrymple, who quit the Directorate to work as a Parks laborer and sometime private eye, to clear up the mystery before it affects the tourist trade. But Quint is reluctant to return to his old job, not only because he’s just taken on a private client—Katharine Kirkwood, whose brother Adam has been missing for ten days—but because he knows the rash of murders that’s just beginning isn’t the work of the ENT Man, whom he killed himself five years ago in revenge for his lover’s death. It looks like Quint and Katharine will have to settle for uncovering a sex-slaves racket, medical-research corruption, and an avenger even more ruthless than Quint en route to realizing that “in the perfect city, the only way to express free will was to commit murder.” Forget the rickety, overstuffed plot and you’ll see why Johnston’s bone-chilling dystopia took Britain’s John Creasey Award for the year’s best crime debut.