James Patterson returns to the genre that made him famous with a thrilling teen detective series about the mysterious and magnificently wealthy Angel family...and the dark secrets they're keeping from one another.
On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: 1) She was the last person to see her parents alive. 2) The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 3) She can't trust anyone—maybe not even herself. Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud's intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs is a dangerous-and revealing-game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?
“Open up, or my partner will kick down the door!” Hatchet Face called out.
It is no exaggeration to say that my whole family was about to get a wake-up call from hell. But all I was thinking at that particular moment was that the police could not kick down the door. This was the Dakota. We could get evicted for allowing someone to disturb the peace.
I unlatched the chain and swung the door open. I was wearing pajamas, of course; chick-yellow ones with dinosaurs chasing butterflies. Not exactly what I would have chosen for a meeting with the police.
Detective Hayes, the bearish one, said, “What’s your name?”
“Are you the daughter of Malcolm and Maud Angel?”
“I am. Can you please tell me why you’re here?”
“Tandy is your real name?” he said, ignoring my question.
“I’m called Tandy. Please wait here. I’ll get my parents to talk to you.”
“We’ll go with you,” said Sergeant Caputo.
Caputo’s grim expression told me that this was not a request. I turned on lights as we headed toward my parents’ bedroom suite.
I was climbing the circular stairwell, thinking that my parents were going to kill me for bringing these men upstairs, when suddenly both cops pushed rudely past me. By the time I had reached my parents’ room, the overhead light was on and the cops were bending over my parents’ bed.
Even with Caputo and Hayes in the way, I could see that my mother and father looked all wrong. Their sheets and blankets were on the floor, and their nightclothes were bunched under their arms, as if they’d tried to take them off. My father’s arm looked like it had been twisted out of its socket. My mother was lying facedown across my father’s body, and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth. It had turned black.
I didn’t need a coroner to tell me that they were dead. I knew it just moments after I saw them. Diagnosis certain.
I shrieked and ran toward them, but Hayes stopped me cold. He kept me out of the room, putting his big paws on my shoulders and forcibly walking me backward out to the hallway.
“I’m sorry to do this,” he said, then shut the bedroom door in my face.
I didn’t try to open it. I just stood there. Motionless. Almost not breathing.
So, you might be wondering why I wasn’t bawling, screeching, or passing out from shock and horror. Or why I wasn’t running to the bathroom to vomit or curling up in the fetal position, hugging my knees and sobbing. Or doing any of the things that a teenage girl who’s just seen her murdered parents’ bodies ought to do.
The answer is complicated, but here’s the simplest way to say it: I’m not a whole lot like most girls. At least, not from what I can tell. For me, having a meltdown was seriously out of the question.
From the time I was two, when I first started speaking in paragraphs that began with topic sentences, Malcolm and Maud had told me that I was exceptionally smart. Later, they told me that I was analytical and focused, and that my detachment from watery emotion was a superb trait. They said that if I nurtured these qualities, I would achieve or even exceed my extraordinary potential, and this wasn’t just a good thing, but a great thing. It was the only thing that mattered, in fact.
It was a challenge, and I had accepted it.
That’s why I was more prepared for this catastrophe than most kids my age would be, or maybe any kids my age.
Yes, it was true that panic was shooting up and down my spine and zinging out to my fingertips. I was shocked, maybe even terrified. But I quickly tamped down the screaming voice inside my head and collected my wits, along with the few available facts.
One: My parents had died in some unspeakable way.
Two: Someone had known about their deaths and called the police.
Three: Our doors were locked, and there had been no obvious break-in. Aside from me, my brothers Harry and Hugo and my mother’s personal assistant, Samantha, were the only ones home.
I went downstairs and got my phone. I called both my uncle Peter and our lawyer, Philippe Montaigne. Then I went to each of my siblings’ bedrooms, and to Samantha’s, too. And somehow, I told them each the inexpressibly horrible news that our mother and father were dead, and that it was possible they’d been murdered.
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Emma Galvin is a recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. Her films include My Suicidal Sweetheart, A Perfect Fit, and The Big Bad Swim. She has performed in several regional theatre productions including Love Punky, The Power of Birds, and The Realm.