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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 5

THE NAME TAG over the pocket of his white coat read "Dennis Garza, MD, Dir. Emergency Services."

I couldn't help noticing that Garza was a handsome man-midforties, six foot one, 180 or so, broad-shouldered, and in good shape. His Spanish lineage showed in his black eyes and the thick black hair that fell across his forehead.

But what struck me most was the tension in the doctor's body, his rigid stance and the way he repeatedly, impatiently, snapped the wristband of his Rolex, as if to say, I'm a busy man. An important, busy man. Let's get on with it. I don't know why, but I didn't like him.

"I'm Dr. Garza," he said to Yuki. "Your mother probably had a neurological insult, either what we call a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, or a mini-stroke. In plain English, it's a loss of circulation and oxygen to the brain, and she may have had some angina-that's pain caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries."

"Is that serious? Is she in pain now? When will I be able to see her?"

Yuki fired questions at Dr. Garza until he put up a hand to stop the onslaught.

"She's still incoherent. Most people recover within a half hour. Others, maybe your mother, take as long as twenty-four hours. Her condition is guarded. And visitors are off-limits right now. Let's see how she does tonight, shall we?"

"She is going to be all right though, right? Right?" Yuki asked the doctor.

"Miss Castellano. Take a deep breath," Garza said. "I'll let you know when we know."

The door to the ER swung closed behind the unpleasant doctor, and Yuki sat down hard on a plastic chair, slumped forward, lowered her face into her hands, and began to sob. I'd never seen Yuki cry before, and it killed me that I couldn't fix what was hurting her.

I did all that I could do.

I put my arm around Yuki's shoulders, saying, "It's okay, honey. She's in good hands here. I know your mom will be better really soon."

Then I rubbed Yuki's back as she cried and cried. She seemed so tiny and afraid, almost like a little girl.

Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson

Read by Carolyn McCormick
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