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11th Hour

Your best friend

Lindsay Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn't slow for a second. When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, she discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco's most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department's evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer—even her closest friends.

Or a vicious killer?

Lindsay is called next to the most bizarre crime scene she's ever seen: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor. Another head is unearthed in the garden, and Lindsay realizes that the ground could hide hundreds of victims.

You won't know until the 11th hour

A reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases and Lindsay's personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to—especially not Joe. 11TH HOUR is the most shocking, most emotional, and most thrilling Women's Murder Club novel ever.

Book One | The House of Heads

Chapter 8

THE BACK GARDEN was a dark, three-quarter-acre triangular plot that looked as though a slice of woodland had been dropped down in one piece behind the Ellsworth house.

The parcel was shadowed by buildings and mature trees, crossed with mulched paths, bounded by the house on one side and by two ten-foot-high brick walls that met at a toolshed at the farthest end of the garden.

Looking for entrances, I saw, in addition to the front gate with its broken lock, five doors that opened to the garden from the main house and a gate in the wall next to the toolshed.

“There’s a multipurpose tool,” Conklin said.

He was pointing to a shovel half hidden by a shrub, and beyond the shovel was a mound of soil and a hole dug in the dirt. The hole was about two feet across, the right size for potted chrysanthemums—and also just right for disembodied heads.

I saw a second hole, just visible from the far corner of the patio, and beside that hole was a rounded stone.

Now that I was looking for them, I saw other stones around the garden. Maybe they were decorative in a gnomish way, or maybe the stones were markers.

If the shovel had been used to break the lock, it would mean that whoever broke in knew where to look for the disembodied heads and had then exhumed them.

Did that mean that the intruder was the killer?

Or was he an accessory to whatever mayhem had taken place?

I took another look at the numbered index cards.

When a killer deliberately leaves a calling card, it’s a dare. Usually means he’s trying to show the cops that he’s smarter than they are. It’s playing a very risky game.

Here was the game board as I saw it: a large hidden garden, two severed heads wreathed with flowers, cryptic numbers on a matching pair of index cards.

Did the numbers indicate how many heads were in the garden? Could hundreds of skulls be in this place, perhaps stacked in holes, one on top of another?

Beyond the complete creepiness of the skull tableau, I didn’t have a sense of the meaning or intent of any of it, but we were just getting started and hadn’t yet scratched the surface.

I said to Conklin, “The quickest way is also the best.”

“Ground-penetrating radar,” he said, staring out into the garden.

“And cadaver dogs. We’ve got to dig this place up.”

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theatres across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

James on 11th Hour and The Women's Murder Club

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