Slavecatcher by Xanthe Walter
Eighty years after the great deluge that flooded the planet, a corrupt system of servitude keeps a fragile peace.
Josiah is a cold-hearted investigator given the nickname ‘Slavecatcher’ for his role in solving several high-profile murders. Alexander is a celebrity rich kid who has fallen from grace and been sold into servitude as punishment.
When Alexander’s owner is murdered, Josiah takes on the case – and Alexander soon becomes his prime suspect. As the land’s most famous investigator clashes with its most notorious slave, both men discover that reputations can be deceiving…
This murder-mystery trilogy, set in a dystopian future, has a gay romance at its heart. Only by uncovering long-submerged truths can Josiah come to terms with his own tragic past, catch a killer – and learn to love again.
“Hey – Investigator Raine! Are the rumours true? Has Elliot Dacre been murdered?” someone called. There was now a sizeable crowd of reporters and photographers, and they swarmed under the crash barrier and ran towards Josiah, shouting and yelling.
“Investigator Raine – who’s the prisoner? Is that Dacre’s slave?”
“It’s the slave… the slave Dacre lived with… the one he photographed all the time…” The news went around the crowd like wildfire.
Josiah grabbed Alexander’s arm and propelled his prisoner towards the Inquisitus building door, but the crowd swarmed around them, jostling them. Alexander stumbled in the melee, and Josiah tightened his grasp on his prisoner’s arm. He could feel that Alexander was solidly muscled, but he didn’t have Josiah’s broad shoulders and the ballast of his greater height and weight – or his innate sense of authority that made people stand aside as he barrelled his way through the throng.
“Investigator Raine – did the slave do it? Is that why you’ve arrested him? Was Elliot Dacre murdered by his own indentured servant?” A journalist thrust her recorder in front of his face.
“I heard the body was mutilated – that the genitals were cut off and stuffed into Dacre’s mouth – is that true?” another journalist asked.
Josiah glared at him icily, wondering, not for the first time, if they made this shit up to see what reaction they’d get. Beside him, Alexander took a sharp intake of breath, and Josiah glanced at him to see that he looked pale and shaken.
“Take him inside,” Josiah ordered, shoving Alexander at Reed, who was battling his way through the crowed beside them.
Josiah turned and held up his hands, and the journalists immediately fell silent and gathered around him, listening intently. It was a gratifying reaction, and Josiah waited until he was sure he had everyone’s full attention before speaking.
“Yes, Elliot Dacre is dead,” he said bluntly – the press were never satisfied with prevarications, and Josiah liked to be plain and direct in his dealings with them. “We have no idea at this stage who killed him, and we are therefore pursuing several lines of enquiry. That is all I have to say right now.”
“Was that Dacre’s slave with you just now?” one of the reporters called. “Have you arrested the slave? I mean, you’re the slavecatcher! That’s what you do, isn’t it?”
“I have no further comment at this moment in time,” Josiah said tightly. The man opened his mouth to ask another question and then closed it again as Josiah shot him a cold glare.
Another reporter was braver. “Is this yet another case of an indentured servant murdering its owner?” he demanded. “What do you have to say about that, Investigator Raine? Isn’t this becoming an epidemic? There have been ten convictions of IS’s murdering their owners in the past year alone. Surely we must take action!”
Josiah shrugged. “I’m an investigator, not a politician. I just solve the crimes I’m sent to investigate,” he said tersely. Then he turned and walked towards the Inquisitus building, pausing briefly on the threshold, his broad shoulders tightening, as the chant went up behind him:
“Slavecatcher! Slavecatcher! Slavecatcher!”
Books one and two in this epic trilogy have been completed and are currently undergoing editing. The entire trilogy will be published during 2015. Check back for regular updates or subscribe for all the latest news! You can also follow my writing progress on Facebook.