When a government official dies on the operating table, the president calls in the computer cops.
On Venus, a radical exile escapes from a maximum-security prison, pledging to return to Washington and assassinate the president. Transport between Earth and the solar colonies is tightly regulated, but the exile knows a shortcut: the top-secret transvection machine, an experimental device that could theoretically be used to teleport men from planet to planet. Vander Defoe, the tool's creator, is busy securing it when he feels a pain in his stomach: His appendix is about to explode.
Defoe dies in the operating room during routine computerized surgery, and the case falls in the lap of the Computer Investigation Bureau, which has jurisdiction over all computer-related crimes. As the team tries to determine who corrupted the system that killed Defoe, it finds that in this case, all roads lead to Venus.