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10th Anniversary

For every secret

Detective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals—but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.

For every lie

At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life—a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?

There's a different way to die

Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family. With James Patterson's white-hot speed and unquenchable action, 10th Anniversary is the most deliciously chilling Women's Murder Club book ever.

Book One | LITTLE BOY LOST

Chapter 3

DR. ARI RIFKIN was intense and busy, judging from the incessant buzz of her pager. Still, she seemed eager to brief me and my partner, Richard Conklin, aka Inspector Hottie. Conklin scribbled in his notebook as Dr. Rifkin talked.

"Her name is Avis Richardson, age fifteen. She was hemorrhaging when she was brought into the ER last night," the doctor said, wiping her wire-rimmed specs with her coattail.

"From the looks of her, she delivered a baby within the past thirty-six hours. She got herself into grave trouble by running and falling down—too much activity too soon after giving birth."

"How'd she get here?" Conklin asked.

"A couple—uh, here's their names—John and Sarah McCann, found Avis lying in the street. Thought she'd been hit by a car. They told the police that they don't know her at all."

"Was Avis conscious when she came in?" I asked Dr. Rifkin.

"She was in shock. Going in and out of lucidity—mostly out. We sedated her, transfused her, gave her a D and C. Right now, she's in guarded but stable condition."

"When can we talk with her?" Conklin asked.

"Give me a moment," said the doctor.

She parted the curtains around the stall of the ICU where her patient was lying. I saw through the opening that the girl was young and white, with lank auburn hair. An IV line was in her arm and a vital-signs machine blinked her stats onto a monitor.

Dr. Rifkin exchanged a few words with her patient and then came out and said, "She says that she lost her baby. But given her state of mind, I don't know if she means that the baby died or that she misplaced it."

"Did she have a handbag with her?" I asked. "Did she have any kind of ID?"

"She was only wearing a thin plastic poncho. Dime-store variety."

"We'll need the poncho," I said. "And we need her statement."

"Give it a shot, Sergeant," said Dr. Rifkin.

Avis Richardson looked impossibly young to be a mother. She also looked as though she'd been dragged behind a truck. I noted the bruises and scrapes on her arms, her cheek, her palms, her chin.

I pulled up a chair and touched her arm.

"Hi, Avis," I said. "My name is Lindsay Boxer. I'm with the police department. Can you hear me?"

"Uh-huh," she said.

She half-opened her green eyes, then closed them again. I pleaded with her under my breath to stay awake. I had to find out what had happened to her. And by giving us this case, Brady had charged Conklin and me with finding her baby.

Avis opened her eyes again, and I asked a dozen basic questions: Where do you live? What's your phone number? Who is the baby's father? Who are your parents? But I might as well have been talking to a department-store dummy. Avis Richardson kept nodding off without answering. So, after a half hour of that, I got up and gave my chair to Conklin.

To say that my partner has "a way with women" is to play up his charm and all-American good looks and cheapen his real gift for getting people to trust him.

I said, "Rich, you're on deck. Go for it."

He nodded, sat down, and said to Avis in his deep, calm voice, "My name is Rich Conklin. I work with Sergeant Boxer. We need to find your baby, Avis. Every minute that passes puts your little one in more danger. Please talk to me. We really need your help."

The girl's eyes seemed unfocused. Her gaze shifted from Conklin to me, to the door, to the IV lead in her arm. Then she said to Conklin, "A couple of months ago...I called the number. Help for pregnant girls? A man...he spoke with an accent. French accent. But...it wasn't authentic. I met them...outside my school..."

"Them?"

"Two men. Their car was a blue four-door?...And when I woke up, I was in a bed. I saw the baby," she said, tears gathering in her eyes, spilling over. "It was a little boy."

And now my heart was breaking apart.

What the hell was this crime? Baby trafficking? It was outrageous. It was a sin. Make that a lot of sins. I tallied up two counts of felony kidnapping before we even knew the fate of the baby.

Conklin said, "I want to hear the whole story from the beginning. Tell me what you remember, okay, Avis?"

I couldn't be sure, but it could have been that Avis Richardson was talking to herself. She said, "I saw my baby.... Then, I was on the street. Alone. In the dark."

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn McCormick has appeared in the films A Simple Twist of Fate and Enemy Mine. She has starred as Dr. Olivet on television's Law & Order for the past twelve years, and as a guest on The Practice and Star Trek. Her Broadway credits include roles in The Dinner Party and Private Lives. She also read The 9th Judgment by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.

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