cover image Going Zero

Going Zero

Anthony McCarten. Harper, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-322707-1

In screenwriter McCarten’s strong debut, Fusion, a Silicon Valley company led by flawed genius Cy Baxter, is competing for a $90 billion contract to provide the federal government with a massive new surveillance system, promoted as a public good but concealing several nefarious features. To test the system, Fusion picks 10 contestants from the public, gives each a two-hour head start, and promises anyone $3 Emillion if they can stay undetected for 30 days. One builds a hidden room in his house; another holes up in a storage locker; a third tries to blend in with the homeless. One contestant, Boston librarian Kaitlyn Day, does more than hide. On day 28, Kaitlyn stuns Baxter with a zinger: use Fusion’s power to locate her lost husband, believed to have disappeared in Iran three years earlier on a CIA mission, or she’ll reveal the company’s deceptive promises to the government. McCarten taps into the current fascination—and revulsion—with modern advances in facial recognition, AI, and location data, though chase story fans may like more chase and less techno navel-gazing. This is an edgy, compulsively readable thriller. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Apr.)

This review has been updated to remove a plot spoiler