Jack Ryan, Jr., meets up with Seth Gregory, his oldest friend and an engineer overseeing a transcontinental railway project, while on a routine intelligence-gathering mission in Tehran. Set slips Jack a key, upon parting, as well as a perplexing message. The next day Jack learns that Seth has disappeared, along with the operational funds meant for an intelligence mission that is vital. Seth's CIA and British M16 handlers claim he has turned against his own country. They warn Jack to inform them if Seth should make contact; beyond that, he is to not involve himself any further, but they do not know him. Jack will race across Iran, through the war-torn Caucasus, and finally deep into territory coveted by the increasingly aggressive Russian Federation, to find the truth. Jack, along the way, finds himself partnered with Ysabel Kashani, an enigmatic Iranian woman who is his only clue to Seth's whereabouts. Jack is caught in a maze of intrigue, lies, and betrayal where no one is who he seems to be; not even Seth who is harboring a secret of his own. A secret that has driven him to the brink of betraying the United States of America. Jack must unravel the mystery, racing against the clock: Who is friend? Who is foe? Jack may have to choose between his loyalty to Seth and his loyalty to America, before it is over. -- Provided by publisher, taken from container.