With the stakes high and time running out, two security experts try to piece together the last hours of a missing client.
An unidentified prisoner finds himself trapped in a room described as a box within a box. Meanwhile, investigators Ruth Gonzalez and Andy Vaslik of Cruxys Solutions take a meeting with Londoner Elizabeth Chadwick, whose husband, James, unbeknownst to her, has taken out an unusual insurance policy. If the policyholder is not heard from within five days, Cruxys issues a code red and begins a search. Elizabeth claims ignorance of any danger in James’ work. Also in the mix is Iraq War vet Tommy-Lee Roddick, who’s guarding the unidentified prisoner and already suspicious about the legitimacy of the contractors who’ve hired him. The story weaves together these multiple strands as Ruth and Andy inch closer to Chadwick’s location and learn more about him. Tommy-Lee is torn when his employers, who call themselves Paul and Bill, instruct him to water-board the prisoner. Ruth and Andy make slow progress, encountering obstacles at every turn. In Newark, Chadwick’s “friend” Valerie DiPalma reveals that Chadwick was doing sensitive work on the development of drones. Later, Valerie finds a hidden bit of info that leads Ruth and Andy to a major break in the case.
Much of the pleasure in reading this tangled yarn from the prolific Magson (Hard Cover, 2016, etc.) comes from putting the pieces together along with his pair of sleuths. Though the story unfolds predictably, they have nice chemistry and banter with aplomb.