Killer Nashville Book of the Day

Minute Zero by Todd Moss / Reviewed by G. Robert Frazier

MINUTE ZERO book cover

Purchase Minute Zero or read other reviews through Killer Nashville’s affiliate,*

Credit to Shawn Miller
Credit to Shawn Miller

In the life of every country, at a moment of extreme national disruption, there is a brief period of breakdown, when everything is uncertain. That is the moment to act, to shape events the way you want them to go. That is Minute Zero.

State Department Crisis Manager Judd Ryker is thrown into the midst of just such a scenario in Minute Zero, the new book by Todd Moss. Inspired by actual events, the novel highlights the chaos of a national election gone awry in the African country of Zimbabwe. Ryker is tasked with helping steer a political outcome that will benefit the United States, but, unbeknownst to him, he is merely a pawn in the political game being played out around him.

The election pits longtime Zimbabwe leader Winston Tinotenda against upstart rebellion leader Gugu Mutonga, and early signs point to a possible victory by Mutonga at the polls. Ryker’s investigation unveils a money trail and secret U.S. support behind the candidates, as well as a scheme to uncover a high-grade uranium mine that could put weapons-grade material in the wrong hands.

But as the election draws to a close, the country is rocked by a series of events.

First, a bomb obliterates the home of General Solomon Zagwe, the exiled president of Ethiopia granted asylum in Zimbabwe by Tinotenda. Zagwe, it turns out, is the target of a U.S. probe into war crimes for his role in something called the Red Fear, a genocidal campaign of violence that resulted in half-a-million civilian deaths in Ethiopia. Soon after, Tinotenda himself falls victim to a car bombing, and his right-hand man General Simba Chimurenga vies to take over the presidency in a coup. Ryker must rush to expose Chimurenga, and make certain Mutonga is rightfully made president.

Moss directs the events like a maestro in an orchestra, taking readers across the globe from the U.S. to Zimbabwe to Taiwan and more, in short suspense-filled chapters. His artful skill keeps the complicated plot on course, making it possible for readers to remain fully aware of what’s happening, even as he leaves Ryker in the dark to figure things out for himself. As the clock counts down to Minute Zero, the tension only heightens.

Moss draws on his real-life experiences in U.S. government to craft a thoroughly believable and politically charged thriller. He previously served as the chief U.S. diplomat for West Africa, overseeing 16 countries under President George W. Bush. He is currently senior fellow and chief operating officer at the Washington, D.C. think tank, the Center for Global Development, where he writes on U.S.-Africa relations, energy, national security, and investment.

Minute Zero is his second international thriller, following on the success of The Golden Hour.

G. Robert Frazier is a former journalist, reader for the Nashville Film Festival and Austin Film Festival’s annual screenwriting competitions, La Vergne Library Board member, and member of the Nashville Writers Meetup and Tennessee Screenwriters Association. He is currently working on a mystery/thriller novel and a screenplay. Follow him on Twitter at @grfrazier23 and visit his Adventures in Writing blog at

(If you have a book you would like featured, send an ARC for consideration. The Killer Nashville Book of the Day Reviews are coordinated by Clay Stafford, with the assistance of Maria Giordano, Emily EytchisonWill Chessorand credited guest reviewers. For more writer resources, visit us at and

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