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The 5th Horseman

SOMEBODY DIES.
A young mother is recuperating in a San Francisco hospital when she is suddenly gasping for breath. The call button fails to bring help in time. The hospital's doctors, some of the best in the nation, are completely mystified by her death. How did this happen?

APOCALYPSE NEARS.
This is not the first such case at the hospital. Just as patients are about to be released with a clean bill of health, their conditions take a devastating turn for the worse.

Accompanied by the newest member of the Women's Murder Club, Yuki Castellano, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer probes deeper into the incidents. Could these cases just be appalling coincidences? Or is a maniac playing God with people's lives? When someone close to the Women's Murder Club begins to exhibit the same frightening symptoms, Lindsay fears no one is safe.

THE 5TH HORSEMAN RIDES.
It is a wild race against time as Lindsay's investigation reveals a hospital administration determined to shield its reputation at all costs. And while the hospital wages an explosive court battle that grips the entire nation, Lindsay and the Women's Murder Club hunt for a merciless killer among its esteemed medical staff.

Chapter 2

JESSIE'S HANDS FLUTTERED like a tiny bird's wings beating against the sheets. Then they were very still. Jessie was gone.

The Night Walker came forward and bent low over the hospital bed. The young woman's skin was mottled and bluish, clammy to the touch, her pupils fixed. She had no pulse. No vital signs. Where was she now? Heaven, hell, nowhere at all?

The silhouetted figure retrieved the fallen call device, then tugged the blankets into place, straightened the young woman's blond hair and the collar of her gown, and blotted the spittle from her lips with a tissue.

Nimble fingers lifted the framed photo beside the phone on the bedside table. She'd been so pretty, this young mother holding her baby. Claudia. That was the daughter's name, wasn't it?

The Night Walker put the picture down, closed the patient's eyes, and placed what looked to be small brass coins, smaller than dimes, on each of Jessie Falk's eyelids.

The small disks were embossed with a caduceus-two serpents entwined around a winged staff, the symbol of the medical profession.

A whispered good-bye blended with the sibilance of tires speeding over the wet pavement five stories below on Pine Street.

"Good night, princess."

Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson

Read by Carolyn McCormick
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