After a five year sabbatical following the tragic death of his wife and fellow agent Alysha, Keon Rause returns to the distant colony world of Magenta to resume service with the Magentan Intelligence Service. With him he brings an artificial recreation of his wife's personality, a simulacrum built from every digital trace she left behind. She has been constructed with one purpose - to discover the truth behind her own death - but Keon's relationship with her has grown into something more, something frighteningly dependent, something that verges on love.
Cashing in old favours, Keon uses his return to the Service to take on a series of cases that allow him and the artificial Alysha to piece together his wife's last days. His investigations lead him inexorably along the same paths Alysha followed five years earlier, to a sinister and deadly group with an unhealthy fascination for the unknowable alien Masters; but as the wider world of Magenta is threatened with an imminent crisis, Keon finds himself in a dilemma: do his duty and stand with his team to expose a villainous crime, or sacrifice them all for the truth about his wife?
Peters sets this top-notch blend of canny SF, crime thriller, and romantic fable two centuries in the future, after the enigmatic Masters have terraformed Earth and sprinkled humans onto 37 colony worlds. One such world is backwater Magenta, where government agent Keon Rause returns in semidisgrace after being thrown off Earth for botching a mission involving a mysterious Masters artifact. Keon is mourning his wife, Alysha, a fellow spy who was killed five years earlier in an Entropist terrorist explosion; he misses her so much that he has secretly commissioned an AI version of her that he calls Liss. He and Liss embark on a quest to discover what Alysha was investigating when she was killed, whether someone deliberately targeted her, and why, assisted by several colorful members of the Magentan intelligence service. Plenty of rock-'em-sock-'em quasimilitary action is played off against Keon's wistful longing for the wife he's lost, Liss's near-human devotion to him, and a plethora of intelligently crafted futuristic technological details. This is a fascinating take on future interaction between human and artificial intelligences.)\n