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Confessions of a Murder Suspect

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?

4

My gaze turned to the angry face of my ten-year-old “little” brother, Hugo. From the look of outrage he directed toward the cops, I got the feeling that he felt they were villains, and that he wanted to take Sergeant Caputo apart like a rotisserie chicken. The thing is, Hugo is probably as strong as a full-grown man. I thought he could actually do it.

What else could Hugo do?

He sat in the “Pork Chair,” a pink upholstered armchair with carved wooden pig hooves for feet. He looked adorable, as he almost always did. He was wearing an enormous Giants sweatshirt over his pajamas. Because Goliath was his biblical hero, he allowed a haircut only once a year, so it had been eleven months since Hugo’s last trim and his brown hair eddied down his back like a mountain stream.

My twin brother, Harrison—aka Harry—sat on the red leather sofa across from Hugo. You would like Harry; everyone does. We’re fraternal twins, of course, but we look very much alike, with dark eyes and hair that we got from our mother. I wear my hair below my shoulders, sometimes with a headband. Harry’s hair has curls that I would die for. He wears Harry Potter–style dark-rimmed glasses. We both twirl our hair with our fingers when deep in thought. I do it clockwise, and he does it in the other direction.

Harry also has a great smile. I guess I do, too, but I almost never use it. Harry uses his a lot. Maybe he’s the only Angel who does, actually.

That night, Harry wore painter’s pants and a sweatshirt with the hood pulled half over his face, which told me that he wanted to disappear. His breathing sounded wheezy, like he had a harmonica in his throat, which meant an asthma attack was coming on.

Samantha Peck, my mother’s kind and beautiful live-in personal assistant, had spent the night in the apartment, behind our locked doors. She worked for Maud, and that made her a suspect, too. She stood behind Hugo with her hand on his shoulder, her sandy-colored braid cascading over her pink satin robe. Her face was drawn and pale, as if her heart had stopped pumping. I thought she might be in shock.

Caputo pointed at Robert’s TV, which broadcast static 24/7. He said, “Can someone turn that off?”

Hugo said, “We never turn it off. Never.”

Caputo walked to the wall and pulled the plug.

For an instant, the room was completely quiet, as Caputo watched us to see how we would react. I found myself wishing more than anything that my older brother, Matthew, would suddenly appear. I had tried to reach him several times, but he wasn’t answering his phone. He may not have been on the best terms with our parents, but I wouldn’t be able to entirely focus until he had been informed of their deaths. And Matthew, I was sure, would know how to deal with these police officers.

Sergeant Caputo shoved his sleeves up farther on his forearms and said, “The penthouse is a crime scene. It’s off-limits until I say otherwise. Are we all clear?”

I thought about how my parents would have wanted us to behave in this situation.

My mother was like a perpetual-motion machine, never stopping, hardly sleeping at all. She seemed to barely notice people—even her children. Her strength was in analyzing financial markets and managing the billions in her exclusive hedge fund.

My father co-owned Angel Pharmaceuticals with his younger brother, Peter. He was a chemist with a gigantic brain and enormous gifts. Unlike my mother, Malcolm engaged with us so intensely that after a few minutes of contact with my father, I felt invaded to the core.

Even with all their faults, Malcolm and Maud had had their children’s interests at heart. They tirelessly taught us to harness what they called our “superhuman powers”: our physical strengths, our emotions, and our remarkable IQs.

Our parents wanted us to be perfect.

Even in this situation, they would’ve wanted us to behave perfectly.

You can probably imagine that the constant press toward perfection might affect your relationships with others and the expectations you have of yourself. It’s like being a camera and the subject of its photographs at the same time.

That’s screwed up, right?

Still, somehow the Angel kids survived this—perhaps by a means that I might describe as… not entirely natural. But we’ll get to that later.

For the moment, I decided to use the skills my parents had driven into all of us, and to refuse to react the way Caputo wanted me to.

“Of course, Officer Caputo,” I finally responded to his demand. “We wouldn’t want to interfere in your very thorough investigation.”

I would just have to wait until the officers were out of my way.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Emma Galvin

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.

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