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Alex Cross, Run

Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls. Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him—by giving himself a new face.

A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene. The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime. All of Washington, D.C., is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.

Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him—and will stop at nothing until he's dead. With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, ALEX CROSS, RUN is James Patterson's ultimate thrill ride.

Prologue | DIE YOUNG AND LEAVE A BEAUTIFUL CORPSE

Four

CREEM POSITIONED HIMSELF ACROSS THE STREET FROM DOWN DOG YOGA AS the seven forty-five evening class let out. Among the first to emerge onto Potomac Street was Darcy Vickers, a tall, well-proportioned blonde.

He couldn’t take credit for the tall or blond part, but as for the well-proportioned elements, those were all thanks to him. Darcy’s ample bust, the perfectly symmetrical arch of her brows and lips, and the nicely tapered thighs represented some of Dr. Creem’s best work.

Not that Darcy Vickers had ever expressed the first drop of gratitude. As far as she was concerned, the world was populated with her lackeys. She was a typical specimen, really—a K Street lobbyist with a steroidal sense of entitlement and a desperate need to stay beautiful for as long as possible.

All of it so very familiar. So close to home, really.

He waited outside Dean & Deluca while she ran in for whatever it was women like her deigned to eat these days. He watched while she held up the line at the register, talking obliviously away on her cell phone. Then he crossed the street again, to follow her down the quaintly cobblestoned alley toward the garage where Darcy’s Bimmer was parked.

There was no need to keep too much distance. He was just some geezer in a windbreaker and orthopedic shoes—all but invisible to the Darcy Vickerses of the world. By the time they reached the deserted third level of the garage, he’d closed the gap between them to less than twenty feet.

Darcy pressed a clicker in her hand, and the Bimmer’s trunk popped open with a soft click. That’s when he made his move.

“Excuse me—Miranda?” he said, half timidly.

“Sorry, no,” Darcy said, dropping her grocery bag and purple yoga mat into the trunk without even a glance.

“Funny,” he said. “You look so much like her.” When the woman didn’t respond, he stepped in closer, crossing that invisible line of personal space between them. “Almost exactly like her, in fact.”

Now, as she turned around, the annoyance on her face was clear, even through the Botox.

“Listen,” she said, “I don’t mean to be rude—”

“You never do, Miranda.”

As he came right up on top of her, she put a hand out to deflect him. But Dr. Creem was stronger than the old man he appeared to be. Stronger than Darcy Vickers, too.

His left hand clamped over her mouth as she tried to call out.

“It’s me, sweetheart,” he whispered. “It’s your husband. And don’t worry. All is forgiven.”

He paused, just long enough to see the surprise come up in her eyes, before he drove the steak knife deep into her abdomen. A scalpel would have been nice, but it seemed best to stay away from the tools of his own trade for the time being.

All the air seemed to leave Darcy Vickers’s lungs in a rush, and she collapsed forward, bending at the middle. It was a bit of work to get the knife out, but then it came free all at once.

With a quick sweep of his leg, Creem kicked her ankles off the ground and lifted her into the trunk. She never even struggled. There were just a few gurgling sounds, followed by the glottal stoppage of several half-realized breaths.

He leaned in close, to make sure it would all reach Bergman’s ears over the phone. Then he stabbed again, into the chest this time. And once more down below, opening the femoral artery with a swift, L-shaped motion, so there could be no chance of recovery.

Working quickly, he took a hank of her long blond hair in his hand and sawed it off with the serrated edge of the knife. Then he cut another, and another, and another, until it was nearly gone, sheared down to where the scalp showed through in ragged patches. He kept just one handful of it for himself, tucked into a Ziploc bag, and left the rest lying in tufts around her body.

She died just as ugly as she had lived. And Dr. Creem was starting to feel better already.

When it was done, Creem closed the trunk and walked away, taking the nearest stairs down toward M Street. He didn’t speak until he was clear of the garage and outside on the sidewalk.

“Joshua?” he said. “Are you still there?”

Bergman took a few seconds to answer. “I’m...here,” he said. His breath was ragged, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Are you...” Creem grinned, though he was also a little disgusted. “Joshua, were you masturbating?”

“No,” his friend said, too quickly. Bergman had an ironic sense of modesty, all things considered. “Is it done?” he asked then.

“Signed, sealed, delivered,” Creem said. “And you know what that means.”

“Yes,” Bergman said.

“Your move, old pal. I can’t wait to see what you cook up.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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