They were best friends, driven by one shared vision - to rule the world of virtual reality games. Cill, hard-edged and beautiful, Var and Benny, brains and business acumen, and Bart, the genius behind the idea. Their newest invention, developed to transport the player into a fantastical virtual world, is just about to be launched.
Bart Minnock, the founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world, to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king, in his company's latest top-secret project, Fantastical. The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body, defeated by their own game. Their close-knit group is torn apart. Who could have engineered a virtual death with such devastating consequences?
It is the most puzzling case NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game... Eve is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a probA-lem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks-as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U- Play's competitors, knows well. But Bart was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one.
Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death... But as she digs deeper, peeling back layers of secrets, revenge and misplaced allegiances, she realises with growing dread the depth of the killer's master plan. And she knows his game is far from over....