Equations of Life, by Simon Morden, Orbit, RRP£7.99, 346 pages

The near-future London in Simon Morden’s debut is a compellingly grimy place. The world is still recovering from Armageddon – terrorists with nukes – and the capital has become an overcrowded asylum for all nationalities, including Russian émigré Samuil Petrovitch, who is posing as a student but is actually on the run.

Intervening in the kidnap of a crooked Japanese businessman’s daughter, Petrovitch finds himself caught between rival mobs. He finds that trying to do the right thing is often more dangerous than deliberately doing the wrong thing – especially when paramilitary Catholics and giant wrecking machines are involved.

Unusually, the publisher Orbit is releasing this book and its two sequels, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom, at monthly intervals. It’s a tactic that should pay off, as Petrovitch is one of those characters you can’t help but warm to, and readers will be eager to experience more of his adventures and his relentless Russian swearing.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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