Minute Zero (A Judd Ryker Novel)
An extraordinary international thriller by the former deputy assistant secretary of state and author of the national bestseller The Golden Hour.
In the life of every country, at a moment of extreme national disruption, there is a brief period of breakdown, when everything is uncertain, events can turn on a dime. That is the moment to act, to shape events how you want them to go. That is Minute Zero.
Fresh off the harrowing events of The Golden Hour, State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is suddenly thrown into a quickly developing emergency in Zimbabwe, where a longtime strongman is being challenged for the presidency. Rumors are flying furiously: armed gangs, military crackdowns, shady outside money pouring in, and, most disturbing for the United States, reports of highly enriched uranium leaking into the market.
And that’s all before Ryker even lands in the country. It gets much worse after that. If he can’t get control, shape his Minute Zero, a lot of people are going to die—not least of all himself.
eyes to accept and relaxed his shoulders. “Very nice. Now let me take you out of here,” she said, waving her hand dismissively at his messy desk. “I’ve got a lot of work before my flight.” “It’ll be good for you to clear your head for an hour. Plus you’ve got to eat.” Judd nodded his assent. “Where do you want to go?” he asked. “There’s not much choice around here. Foggy Bottom is a food wasteland.” “Well, we’re not having dinner in this place,” she said emphatically. “So, you’ve eaten at
Zero in Zimbabwe. But now I’m starting to think it may never happen. Maybe nothing is going to happen.” “Then you have to make it happen. You have to create Minute Zero.” At that moment Judd knew immediately she was right. “But how?” he asked. She was ready. “If everyone is locked into a position, you have to change things up. Introduce a new factor, a piece of information—something to break everything loose.” “I know everything here is connected, but I can’t yet see how. I’m in the dark. I
still hot, of course. Even if the uranium issue is not.” “Nah,” dismissed his supervisor at Africa Issue, who was unaware his best analyst was a covert detailee to the ultrasecret Purple Cell. “There’s no intel opportunity in Zimbabwe. Let’s not waste any more time.” “Sir?” “You can keep covering the election, but it’s a dead end without the uranium angle.” “The politics are still quite interesting. I wouldn’t mind staying on and seeing if something breaks.” “You’re not hearing me, Sunday.
the sour acids from deep in his stomach, he suddenly realized the sickening image on his screen was in fact . . . a magnificent gift. 54. Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday, 2:38 p.m. Central Africa Time People cleared the streets when they heard the sirens coming. The president’s convoy began with two dozen policemen on motorcycles, blocking traffic and chasing slow pedestrians from the oncoming assault. Next came six military trucks, each bristling with soldiers in sunglasses, their AK-47s pointing
chairs holding the nation’s top judges, business leaders, and senior members of the Democracy Union of Zimbabwe. Hidden among this crowd, at the back, almost but not quite entirely out of view, sat Mariana Leibowitz. Gugu finished the oath of office and solemnly accepted a sash across her chest, the conclusion to her inauguration as president. She turned to face the throngs of supporters, who raised their arms and screamed again. “GU-GUUUUUUUUU! GU-GUUUUUUUUU!” A drummer on the stage began a