Eighteen years in the future nanotech and advanced AI have brought on the robotics revolution. The world has quickly become addicted to the remarkable benefits of these dazzling machines that are making life more leisurely and luxurious for nearly everyone. "We're all landed gentry now" reads one ubiquitous advertisement. But programmer Lucy Baker has become increasingly aware that people like herself, who design the brains of these amazing machines, know less and less how their creations do the things they do. When her partner at a small, experimental robotics design lab is murdered in an astonishingly perfect crime, the facts point only to Lucy as the culprit, and she suspects that the line between AI and true creative intelligence may have been crossed in the worst way. Ill equipped to solve such a perfect crime with her meager little gray cells Lucy endeavors to create, while on the run, the greatest (and first) robot detective to solve it for her, and, hopefully, to save her life.
With limited access to her usual tools and options Lucy attempts to model her detective on the best one she can find on short notice, the fictional M. Hercule Poirot.
Under pressure and in hiding, Lucy begins creating what she thinks is her masterpiece, a work of Steampunk genius, created from desperation and from the deep, interior structures of Agatha Christie novels. Every test and diagnostic of her robot Poirot is off the charts and suggests a breakthrough in AI design. But when she initiates the irreversible start up sequence, instead of Poirot, she gets a bland, colorless, nothing.
And then she remembers to add the mustache.
Poirot is back!