A MURDERER OF ASTOUNDING CRUELTY
Detective Alex Cross is called to the worst murder scene he has encountered in all his years on the force. Someone with less than zero regard for human life has slaughtered a family–and then more killings, each one more ruthless than the last, quickly follow. One of those death comes terrifyingly close to home, and Alex realizes that he is chasing a horrible new breed of killer.
A CITY IN CHAOS
As Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, dig deeper into the case, they become entangled in the deadly African underworld of Washington DC. What they discover there is so shocking that they can barely comprehend it: a strongly organized gang of teenage thugs headed by a diabolical warlord known only as the Tiger. When the elusive killer's trail turns up in Africa, Alex knows that he must follow. Alone.
ALEX CROSS TRACKS A KILLER CROSS COUNTRY
When Alex arrives in Nigeria, he discovers a world where justice is as foreign as he is. Unprotected and alone in a strange country, bombarded on all sides by the murderous threats of the Tiger, can Alex manage to both survive and catch the killer? From the #1 bestselling author James Patterson comes Cross Country-the most heart-stopping, speed-charged, electrifying Alex Cross thriller ever.
Part One | Late To The Party
THE HARDEST MYSTERIES to solve are the ones you come to near the end, because there isn't enough evidence, not enough to unravel, unless somehow you can go all the way back to the beginning–rewind and replay everything.
I was riding in the lap of comfort and civility, my year-old Mercedes. I was thinking about how odd it was to be going to a murder scene now. And then I was there, leaving my vehicle, and feeling conflicted about going over to the dark side again.
Was I getting too soft for this? I wondered for an instant, then let it go. I wasn't soft. If anything, I was still too hard, too unyielding, too uncompromising.
Then I was thinking that there was something par ticularly terrifying about random, senseless murder, and that's what this appeared to be, that's what everyone thought anyway. It's what I was told when the call came to the house.
"It's rough in there, Dr. Cross. Five vics. It's an entire family."
"Yeah, I know it is. That's what they said."
One of the first responders, a young officer I know named Michael Fescoe, met me on the sidewalk at the murder scene in Georgetown, not far from the university where I'd gone as an undergrad and which I remembered fondly for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because Georgetown had taken a chance on me.
The patrolman was visibly shaken. No surprise there. Metro didn't call me in special at eleven o'clock on a Sunday night for run-of-the-mill homicides.
"What have we got so far?" I said to Fescoe and flashed my badge at a patrolman seemingly guarding an oak tree. Then I ducked under the bright yellow tape in front of the house. Beautiful house, a three-story Colonial on Cambridge Place, a well- heeled single block just south of Montrose Park.
Neighbors and looky-loos crowded the sidewalk–but they stayed at a safe distance in their pajamas and robes, keeping up their white-collar reserve.
"Family of five, all of them dead," Fescoe repeated himself. "The name's Cox. Father, Reeve. Mother, Eleanor. Son, James. All on the first floor. Daughters, Nicole and Clara, on the third. There's blood everywhere. Looks like they were shot first. Then cut up pretty bad and piled into groupings."
Piled. I sure didn't like the sound of that. Not inside this lovely home. Not anywhere.
"Senior officers on site? Who caught it?" I asked.
"Detective Stone is upstairs. She's the one asked me to page you. ME's still on the way. Probably a couple of them. Christ, what a night."
"You've got that right."
Bree Stone was a bright star with the Violent Crimes branch, and one of the few detectives I went out of my way to partner with, pun intended, since she and I were a couple and had been for more than a year now.
"Let Detective Stone know that I'm here," I said. "I'm going to start downstairs and work my way up to where she is."
"Will do, sir. I'm on it."
Fescoe stuck with me up the porch steps and past an ALS tech working on the demolished front door and threshold.
"Forced entry, of course," Fescoe went on. He blushed, probably because he'd stated the obvious. "Plus, there's a hatch open to the roof on the third floor. Looks like they might have left that way."
"I'd say so–based on the amount of damage, whatever the hell happened in there. Never seen anything like it, sir. Listen, if there's anything else you need–"
"I'll let you know. Thank you. It's better if I do this alone. I concentrate better."
My reputation seems to attract hungry cops on big cases, which can have its advantages. Right now, though, I wanted to take in this scene for myself. Given the grim, steely-eyed look on the face of every tech I'd seen coming from the back of the house, I knew this was going to get harder in a hurry.
Turns out I didn't know the half of it. The murder of this family was much worse than I'd thought.
Much, much worse.
Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson
Dion Graham appears on HBO's The Wire and narrates A&E's The First 48. An award-winning and critically acclaimed actor and narrator he has performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, internationally, in films, and in several hit television series.
Jay O. Sanders attended the acting conservatory at The State University of New York at Purchase. He began his career off-Broadway in Shakespearean roles in Henry V, Measure for Measure, and Twelfth Night. Jay has narrated more than fifty audiobooks and has appeared in several films, including Half Nelson and The Day After Tomorrow.