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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 6

THE PETITE WOMAN who opened the door was white, late forties, five three, one hundred and ten pounds, wearing leggings under a floral-print smock. Her expression was strained and her mascara was smudged under her eyes. Her nails were bitten to the finger pads.

She said her name was Janet Worley, and I told her mine, showed her my badge, and introduced my partner, who asked her, “How are you doing, Mrs. Worley?”

“Horribly, thank you.”

“It’s okay. We’re here now,” Rich said.

Conklin is good with people, especially women. In fact, he’s known for it.

I wanted to learn everything at once, which was what always happened when I started working a case. I looked around the foyer as Conklin talked to Janet Worley and took notes. The entranceway was huge, with a twenty-foot-high ceiling and plaster moldings; to my right, a wide and winding staircase led to the upper floors.

Everything was tidy, not a rug fringe out of place.

Janet Worley was saying to Conklin, “My husband and I are just the caretakers, you understand. This house is thirty thousand square feet and we have a schedule. We’ve been cleaning the Ellsworth Place side of the house over the past three days.”

Looking through the foyer, I thought the house seemed gloomy, what you would expect from a relic of the Victorian age. Had we stepped into a Masterpiece Theatre episode? Was Agatha Christie lurking in the wings?

Behind me, Janet Worley was still talking to Conklin and she had his attention. I wanted to hear her out, but she was going the long way around the story and I felt the pressure of time passing.

“Why did you call emergency?” Conklin asked.

Worley said, “I had better show you.”

We followed behind the small woman, who took us through the foyer, past a library, and into a living area with an enormous stone fireplace and large-scale leather furniture. Sunlight passed through stained glass, painting rainbows on the marble floors. We went through a restaurant-quality kitchen and at last arrived at the back door.

Worley said, “We haven’t been in this part of the house since last Friday. Yes, that’s right, three days ago. I don’t know how long these have been here.”

She opened the door and I followed Worley’s pointing finger to the chrysanthemum-lined brick patio in the backyard.

For a moment, my mind blanked, because what I saw was frankly unbelievable.

On the patio were two severed heads encircled by a loose wreath of white chrysanthemum flowers.

They seemed to be looking up at me.

The sight was grisly and shocking, made for the cover of the National Enquirer. But this was no alien invasion story, and it was no Halloween prank.

Conklin turned to me, my shock reflected in his eyes.

“These heads are real, right?” I asked him.

“Real, and as the lady said, definitely dead.”

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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