The Black Ditch by Simon J. Lancaster

the black ditch

Title: The Black Ditch (The Laurie Stern Trilogy #1)

Author: Simon J. Lancaster

Published on: 7th July 2019

Genre: Science Fiction

Laurie Stern is in a mess. His dad has been shot dead – the poor thing was caught in a crossfire of a gang war. Laurie’s boss is also dead. The deputy boss has run away – he would have been shot too, if not for Laurie saving him.

This is London in 2050. Climate refugees are dumped here. Laurie is a refugee. When his adoptive parents refused to give him up, they were forced to move to London. Gang rules, powerful mob bosses, justice is something that people here have never heard of. You are always observed. Thanks to the super-intelligent computers and the tags that everybody is supposed to compulsorily wear.

Someone is trying to kill Laurie. Will Laurie manage to stay a step ahead of his killer?

The Black Ditch is the first book in The Laurie Stern Trilogy. A dystopian murder mystery sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Terms like Climate Change, Climate refugees piqued my curiosity.


The story starts on a good note. Laurie as a kid, a climate refugee and his struggles to gel well with the non-refugees was heart-wrenching to read. The story then fast-forwards to 2050 and we meet Laurie(he’s in his thirties now). He works for a gangster. His boss is killed while the deputy is shot at. Laurie manages to save the deputy and the fella vanishes into the rainy night.

There’s too much violence and gore in this story. Given that Laurie works for a gangster, gore and grim might be something that the reader must get used to.  Maybe something on how Climate Change affected those living in 2050 would have made the story even more interesting.

Dirty politics, the survival of the fittest and the smartest seems to be the ‘thing’ in 2050. When I say dirty politics I mean those who play double games, those who cannot be trusted and so on.


There are many characters and I had trouble remembering them all. However, some changed colours like a chameleon and that was quite interesting! I did not see the twists coming. As the main character, Laurie is likeable. His confusion, his grief and his emotional mess are well portrayed in the story. At times, the cat and mouse chase (between Laurie and his killer) kept me on the edge of the seat. Also, at times, the cat and mouse is given way too much preference that it becomes a routine/feels monotonous.

The first few chapters send out a strong message on the possible effects of climate change. It was pretty scary to read – I really hope things don’t turn out to be so in real!

Overall, The Black Ditch was an interesting read. I really liked the initial theme of the story – climate change and climate refugees.

There’s a giveaway for this tour -A signed copy of The Black Ditch, and for your name to be used as a character in the sequel. Giveaway details here.

Many thanks to Rachel for the blog tour invite.

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