When the six-year-old daughter of billionaire technocrat Davoud Ansari is kidnapped, ueber-consultant Jonathan Knox and counterterrorism agent Marianna Bonaventure must team up with an experimental artificial intelligence to rescue her, never suspecting the little girl is the key to a plot that could destroy the NSA’s most advanced cryptanalysis capability — and go on to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States.
Jonathan Knox is one of the country’s most sought-after management consultants, not least for his uncanny skill at intuiting the solution hidden in the noise. Blessing though it may be to his clients, Knox’s so-called pattern-matching ability began as a curse, born of a nightmarish long-ago bad trip. Even after all these years flashbacks still haunt his dreams. Or did until recently, when something new came into his life: For, through no fault of his own, Knox has blundered into a relationship with —
Marianna Bonaventure, an agent for the US Department of Energy charged with keeping track of nuclear proliferation risks … from behind a desk. Her only foray into fieldwork so far was the mission where she first teamed with Jon Knox, the one where they’d … well, between the two of them, they’d sort of saved the world. Now she’s on another case with Jon, investigating the disappearance of billionaire Davoud Ansari’s daughter Fatimah. It’s far less earth-shattering than last time, she thinks, but weird all the same, especially since their co-investigator is —
Nietzsche, an artificial intelligence built by Ansari’s company, Psyche Industries. Nietzsche may be the first machine in the world to attain consciousness, albeit at a terrible price. But Nietzsche is also a machine with a secret agenda — one involving the kidnapping investigation he is conducting with Knox and Marianna. Yet not even Nietzsche suspects that the real threat will only emerge once they’ve cracked the case and brought Fatimah safely home.
Hamza Nassiri is the author of that threat: A deep-cover sleeper agent for Iran’s feared Quds Force posing as Psyche Industries’ security chief, Hamza is laboring in secret to undermine the MERGE, an intelligence analysis capability of unthinkable power. Before it comes on line, he must use Fatimah Ansari to bring down MERGE and the country along with it.