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The 9th Judgment

Detective Lindsay Boxer chases a jewel thief, a murderous movie star, and a killer with a vendetta against women and children.

The most personal
A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in blood red lipstick.

The most dangerous
The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling walks in on a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is an empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria.

The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever
Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner Rich—and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her relationship with her fiancé and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line—but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best!

Part One | SNEAKY PETE

Chapter 1

PETER GORDON FOLLOWED the young mom out of Macy's and into the street outside the Stonestown Galleria. Mom was about thirty, her brown hair in a messy ponytail, wearing a lot of red: not just shorts but red sneakers and a red purse. Shopping bags hung from the handles of her baby's stroller.

Pete was behind the woman when she crossed Winston Drive, still almost on her heels as she entered the parking garage, talking to the infant as if he could understand her, asking him if he remembered where Mommy parked the car and what Daddy was making for dinner, chattering away, the whole running baby-talk commentary like a fuse lit by the woman's mouth, terminating at the charge inside Petey's brain.

But Petey stayed focused on his target. He listened and watched, kept his head down, hands in his pockets, and saw the woman unlock the hatch of her rAV4 and jam her shopping bags inside. He was only yards away from her when she hoisted the baby out of the stroller and folded the carriage into the back, too.

The woman was strapping the boy into the car seat when Pete started toward her.

"Ma'am? Can you help me out, please?"

The woman drew her brows together. What do you want? was written all over her face as she saw him. She got into the front seat now, keys in hand.

"Yes?" she said.

Pete Gordon knew that he looked healthy and clean and wide-eyed and trustworthy. His all-American good looks were an asset, but he wasn't vain. No more than a Venus flytrap was vain.

"I've got a flat," Pete said, throwing up his hands. "I really hate to ask, but could I use your cell phone to call Triple-A?"

He flashed a smile and got the dimples going, and at last she smiled, too, and said, "I do that—forget to charge the darned thing."

She dug into her purse, then looked up with the cell phone in hand. Her smile wavered as she read Pete's new expression, no longer eager to please but hard and determined.

She dropped her eyes to the gun he was holding—thinking that somehow she'd gotten it wrong—looked back into his face, and saw the chill in his dark eyes.

She jerked away from him, dropping her keys and her phone into the foot well. She climbed halfway into the backseat.

"Oh my God," she said. "Don't—do anything. I've got cash "

Pete fired, the round whizzing through the suppressor, hitting the woman in the neck. She grabbed at the wound, blood spouting through her fingers.

"My baby," she gasped.

"Don't worry. He won't feel anything. I promise," Pete Gordon said.

He shot the woman again, poof, this time in the side of her chest, then opened the back door and looked at the bawler, nodding off, mouth sticky with cotton candy, blue veins tracing a road map across his temple.

Copyright © 2010 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 read The 8th Confession by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.

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