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Cross Fire

Wedding bells ring
Detective Alex Cross and Bree's wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington D.C.'s most corrupt: a dirty congressmen and an underhanded lobbyist. Next, the elusive gunman begins picking off other crooked politicians, sparking a blaze of theories—is the marksman a hero or a vigilante?

A murderer returns
The case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Alex and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, the murders continue. It becomes clear that they are the work of a professional who has detailed knowledge of his victims' movements—information that only a Washington insider could possess.

Caught in a lethal cross fire
As Alex contends with the sniper, Siegel, and the wedding, he receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in D.C. and will not relent until he has eliminated Cross and his family for good. With a supercharged blend of action, deception, and suspense, Cross Fire is James Patterson's most visceral and exciting Alex Cross novel ever.

Prologue | FINDERS, KEEPERS

Two

TWENTY-TWO DAYS LATER, a man bearing a striking resemblance to Max Siegel checked out of the Hotel Meliá Habana in the ritzy Miramar section of Havana, Cuba. Medical tourists were as common as pickpockets here; no one looked twice at the broad-shouldered man in the linen suit with bruises around his eyes and gauze over his nose and ears as he came through the lobby.

He signed the bill with a perfectly replicated signature and kept the charges on Max Siegel’s brand-new American Express card. The surgeries, however, had been paid for in cash.

From the hotel, he caught a cab across town to Dr. Cruz’s office, discreetly tucked into one of the city’s endless neoclassic arcades. Inside was a full-service, completely staffed modern clinic that would have made a high-priced plastic surgeon in Miami or Palm Beach proud.

“I have to tell you, Senor Siegel, that I’m quite pleased with this.” The doctor spoke softly as he removed the last of the bandages. “It is some of the best work I’ve ever done, if I may say so.” His manner was thoughtful but crisp and efficient — very professional. You’d never know he was willing to cut so many ethical corners along with the skin and bones of his clients’ faces.

Dr. Cruz had performed seven separate procedures, something that might have taken months or even a year elsewhere. There was blepharoplasty for the eyelids; a template rhinoplasty for the nose, with a complete elevation of the skin and soft tissue in the nasal pyramid; new MEDPOR implants for more prominent cheekbones and chin; a sliding genioplasty of the jawbone; a little silicone augmentation for the brow; and, as a finishing touch, a nice little cleft in the chin — just like Max Siegel’s.

At the patient’s request, no electronic imaging had been taken before or after the procedures. For the right rate, Dr. Cruz had been more than willing to work from a series of digital blowups in hard copy, no questions asked, no interest in any biophysical detail.

Now, when he held up the large hand mirror for Kyle to see his reflection, the effect was stunning. The implants, especially, were like a miracle of change.

Max — not Kyle — smiled back from the mirror. He felt a slight sting at the corners of his mouth, which didn’t move quite the same way as before. In fact, he didn’t recognize himself at all. It was a total mind fuck, in the best possible way. There had been other disguises in the past, including some very expensive prosthetics that had gotten him out of prison. But they were nothing compared to this.

“How long will the bruising last?” he asked. “And this swelling around my eyes?”

Cruz handed him a folder of aftercare information. “With proper rest, you should be looking completely normal in seven to ten days.”

The remaining changes, he could do for himself — shave and dye his hair down to a dark buzz cut and put in a simple pair of colored contacts. If there was any disappointment at all, it was that Kyle Craig had been so much better looking than Max Siegel.

But screw it. He needed to consider the larger picture here. Next time, he could be Brad Pitt if he wanted to.

He left the clinic in an excellent mood and took another cab straight to José Martí International Airport. From there, he caught a flight back to Miami, with a connection to Washington, DC, that same afternoon. For the main event.

Already, his thoughts had begun to coalesce around one idea: meeting up with his old friend and sometimes partner Alex Cross. Had Alex forgotten the promises Kyle had made to him over the years? That didn’t seem possible. But had Cross grown just a little complacent in the meantime? Maybe so. In any case, the “great” Alex Cross was going to die, and die badly. There would be pain, but even more than that — regret. It would be a finale worth waiting for, no question.

And in the interim, Kyle was going to have some fun. After all, as the new and improved Max Siegel, he knew better than anybody that there was more than one way to take another man’s life.

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Andre Braugher & Jay O. Sanders

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