A Cyber War rages throughout the galaxy. The Earth-aligned worlds are fighting for survival against the cold, emotionless might of the Cyber Bloc - an alliance of planets whose inhabitants have undergone cybernetic conversion in the name of racial superiority.
As a brilliant young biochemist studying at Oxford, Martin Blackthorn had a bright future ahead of him. And then in the course of a behavioural experiment, he met a boy called John Slade, and in a moment his life took a very different and infinitely darker turn. On the surface John appeared quite normal, but when it came to inflicting pain, his behaviour was off the scale.
When an undercover police officer is killed and a deadly shipment of pure heroin hits land, it looks as though the operation to bring down Brighton's biggest drug dealer is compromised. But the investigation is in more trouble than either Detective Sergeant Minter or his boss, Tom Beckett, could ever imagine. Embarking on a bloody journey that will set him on a collision course with his team, Minter is pulled back into his own troubled past - to a childhood spent in care and the vicious murder of his closest friend.