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Cross Country

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.

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.

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.

Chapter 2

THEY WANTED TO scare somebody, I was thinking as I entered a brightly lit, warmly decorated alcove. But who? Not these dead people. Not this poor family that had been slaughtered for God only knew what reason.

The first floor told a grim and foreboding story that delineated the murder. Nearly every piece of furniture in the living and dining rooms had been either turned over or destroyed–or both. There were gaping holes punched in the walls, along with dozens of smaller ones. An antique glass chandelier lay scattered in splinters and shards all over a brightly colored Oriental rug.

The crime scene made no sense and, worse, had no direct precedent in my experience as a homicide detective.

A bullet-riddled Chesterfield couch and settee had been pushed up against the wall to make room in front of the fireplace. This was where the first three bodies were piled.

While it's safe to say that I've seen some horrendous shit in the line of duty, this scene, the monstrosity of it, stopped me instantly.

As promised, the stacked victims were the father, mother, and son on top, all lying faceup. There were blood streaks and stains on the nearby walls, furniture, and ceiling, and a pool had formed around the bodies. These poor people had been attacked with sharp cutting instruments of some sort, and there had been amputations.

"Jesus, Jesus," I muttered under my breath. It was a prayer, or a curse on the killers, or more likely both.

One of the printing techs answered under his breath, "Amen."

Neither of us was looking at the other, though. This was the kind of homicide scene you just gutted your way through, trying to get out of the house with a minute piece of your sanity intact.

The blood patterns around the room suggested the family members had been attacked separately, then dragged together in the middle.

Something had fueled whatever savage rage brought these killers to this and I agreed with Fescoe that there had been several killers. But what exactly had happened? What was the cause of the massacre? Drugs? Ritual? Psychosis?

Group psychosis?

I stashed the random thoughts to consider at another time. Methods first, motive later.

I slowly circled the bodies and parts, picking my way around the pools of blood, stepping on dry parquet where I could. There didn't seem to be any cohesion to the cutting, or the killing for that matter.

The son's throat was slit; the father had a bullet wound to the forehead; and the mother's head was turned away at an unnatural angle, as if her neck had been broken.

I went full circle to see the mother's face. The angle was such that she seemed to be looking right up at me, almost hopeful, as if I could still save her.

I leaned in for a closer look at her and all of a sudden felt dizzy. My legs went weak. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Oh no! Oh my God, no!

I stepped back blindly, my foot hit a slick spot, and I fell. As I went down, I reached to break my fall. My gloved hand smeared deep red across the floor.

Ellie Randall's blood. Not Cox–Randall!

I knew her–at least I once had.

Long, long ago, Ellie had been my girlfriend when we'd been students at Georgetown. She had probably been my first love.

And now Ellie had been murdered, along with her family.

Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson

Read by Dion Graham & Jay O. Sanders

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.

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