Another adventure for cyber-cop Doré Konstantin (Tea from an Empty Cup, 1998), now head of the TechnoCrime Unit policing software piracy and data theft. Things are slow, and her boss, Bruce Ogada, isn't convinced that the police need a TechnoCrime Unit at all. Finally, however, two cases emerge. The first plaintiff, Darwin, a cyborg in Artificial Reality who refuses to divulge his real-world identity, claims that he's been brainwashed by a Hong Kong casino. And fashion designer Susannah Ell complains that her ex, Hastings Dervish, is constantly watching her, both in reality and through Artificial Reality; moreover, she insists that Dervish is digital: he's exchanged minds with an Artificial Intelligence, so that the AI's free to roam reality, while Dervish hatches dark plots within AR. The cases don't appear to be related, except that in AR an annoying figure keeps showing up, in a child's body that gives Konstantin the creeps; Goku Mura, she learns, is a Phase 3 Interpol operative. The Hong Kong casino is much more dangerous than it at first appears; and Dervish—digital or not, he commands a vast amount of computing power—lives in Key West, a legal black hole whose residents are virtually immune from outside investigation.
Fascinating and brilliantly wrought—right up to the absurdly feeble, offstage resolution that brings readers back to, er, reality with a thump.