John Sandford (bestelling author of the Lucas Davenport "Prey" novels) and Michele Cook debut a high-octane thriller series about a ruthless corporation, unspeakable experiments, and a fight to expose the truth.
Shay Remby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife, searching for her brother, Odin.
Odin’s a brilliant hacker but a bit of a loose cannon. He and a group of radical animal-rights activists hit a Singular Corp. research lab in Eugene, Oregon. The raid was a disaster, but Odin escaped with a set of highly encrypted flash drives and a post-surgical dog.
When Shay gets a frantic 3 a.m. phone call from Odin—talking about evidence of unspeakable experiments, and a ruthless corporation, and how he must hide—she’s concerned. When she gets a menacing visit from Singular’s security team, she knows: her brother’s a dead man walking.
What Singular doesn’t know—yet—is that 16-year-old Shay is every bit as ruthless as their security force, and she will burn Singular to the ground, if that’s what it takes to save her brother.
About the Author
MICHELE COOK is a journalist and crime reporter making her fiction debut with this series.
Hometown:St. Paul, Minnesota
Date of Birth:February 23, 1944
Place of Birth:Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Education:State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism
Read an Excerpt
In the beginning . . .
The leader of the group had the Taser, a snub-nosed stun gun that looked like a miniature Super Soaker. There were six baseball bats and two commercial bolt cutters scattered among them, hung on loops beneath casual jackets. A seventeen-year-old boy, muscled up by white-water kayaking, had the ten-pound sledgehammer. They all carried ski masks and heavy work gloves.
Twelve young people altogether, male and female in equal numbers, most still in their teens. If they were stopped by the police, there would be no defense for the gear, so they were on edge, jumpy, looking around as they walked.
Ready to run.
But the distance from the cars was short, and the exposure was brief. A risk that had to be taken.
They had one big fence to get through.
The fence was twelve feet high, with razor wire on the top: they couldn’t climb it. The bottom of the fence was set in a band of concrete: they couldn’t dig under it. They couldn’t cut through it, or even touch it, because of a spiderweb of motion alarms.
There was one possible entry, at a back gate. The gate, which was almost never used, was secured with an electronic lock that opened only with the right magnetic card.
They didn’t have one of those. They did have a deck of obsolete cards, kept by the son of a former researcher. The boy was a computer hacker who’d studied the cards for years and claimed to have found the algorithm by which the codes were updated.
Eventually, one of the women in the group had paid attention to what he was saying. She’d led him through cyber attacks on several animal lab facilities, and the damage had been impressive. The woman took the high school senior as a lover to tie him more tightly to the group.
Two weeks earlier, he’d stuck a recorder card into the electronic lock to get a reading on the current lock code. A few hours later, he’d produced a new card that he swore would open the gate and silence the alarms around it.
Some of the members of the group had their doubts, but the boy didn’t. He was ultimately convincing.
All twelve of the raiders were committed, some more committed than others. At least two would give great sighs of relief if the card failed and they couldn’t get in.
The target was a research laboratory near the university in Eugene, Oregon, a heavy user of live animals: the usual mice and rats, but also rabbits, cats, and rhesus monkeys. The lab’s website was glossy and vague--a lot of PR double-talk about searching for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. But they had an insider who told them that something else was going on, something a lot stranger and meaner. The animals, he said, were being used and abused in ways that had no relevance to Parkinson’s or any other disease.
“They’re trying to make robots out of living beings” is the way he put it. “I don’t know why, but I think they’re planning to make robots out of people. They’ve killed hundreds of those monkeys, and they’re killing more all the time.”
The raiders were ready to believe. They’d all been involved in tree sitting, and tree spiking, and then more extreme environmental sabotage actions. They all knew each other and their various levels of commitment. Five of the twelve had been to jail at least once. The others had been luckier.
They crossed the parking lot in three groups, through the dense, fishy odor of the Willamette River, and converged on an alley between two anonymous warehouse buildings. The alley was the riskiest part, the part where it’d be almost impossible to run, where they could be trapped.
They saw no one.
Emerging from the alley, they moved sideways down the back of one of the buildings to three large Dumpsters that smelled of rotting vegetables and spoiled milk. The Dumpsters were fifty feet from the gate and provided temporary concealment.
The leader checked the power level on the Taser, then said, “Masks, everyone.”
The black knit ski masks came out of their jacket pockets. Sixteen-year-old Aubrey Calder giggled nervously as she fitted the breathing hole around her lip-glossed mouth and whispered, “I’m seriously wetting my pants.”
“You say that every time, but we’re six for six,” said Christopher, the sledge guy. “This is gonna work. This is gonna be awesome.”
The leader, the old man of the group at twenty-three, peeked around the Dumpster, scanned the orange sodium-vapor security lights, and said quietly, “I’m going for the gate.” Ethan led from the front, and it gave confidence to the others. He’d already done two years at Washington’s Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, where he’d learned to make pillows and mattresses. “My time in the joint,” he called it. It gave him a certain cred.
The target building seemed like a newer brick warehouse, an unfriendly one: small windows too high to see into and covered with wire-mesh screens. There were larger windows at the front of the building, but those looked into the lobby, and the lobby was secured from the rest of the building by locked reinforced steel doors. There were no signs identifying the building as a laboratory.
They would go in through a steel service door on the side of the building, for which they had a key provided by the insider. He couldn’t get them an electronic key card for the gate because he had no reason to have one, or to ask for one. He couldn’t ask for a service-door key, either, but he could be alone with a janitor’s key ring for long enough to press both sides of the key into layers of clay inside an Altoids tin.
Given perfect impressions, the raiders could make their own key. And they had.