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Guilty Wives
Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

No husbands allowed

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they're free to live someone else's life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

What happened last night?

In the morning's harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened—something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime—for survival. GUILTY WIVES is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of nonstop joy-ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger that only James Patterson can create.

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Prologue | JULY 2011

Three

DARKNESS, EVEN THOUGH the room was well lit. Cold, even though the room was so humid that my shirt stuck to my chest and sweat dotted my forehead. The blood I tasted in my mouth, the searing pain in my ribs, the bruises on my wrists from the handcuffs that now chained me to the wall—those were real. Somewhere, as I swooned in and out of consciousness, I'd put up a fight. Bits and pieces flashed at me. Kicking and punching. I think I bit someone's arm. But it didn't matter. None of it mattered anymore.

I saw it now, what Winnie saw. La Reddition. Surrender. Don't fight it, and it will be easier. La Reddition was extending her hand to me, but I hadn't shaken it yet.

Time had passed. Best guess, about ten hours since my best friend had died.

The cell door opened. Boulez, the warden at JRF. Dark hair greased back. Immaculate three-piece suit, tie perfectly knotted. He looked like the politician he was. In America, Boulez would be a city councilman planning a run for Congress. In France, he was a prison warden waiting for his chance to move up in the Ministry of Justice.

"I will not waste our time with pleasantries," he said, which seemed appropriate, given that his employees had just murdered my best friend and beaten and shackled me.

I looked around my cell, roughly the size of my walk-in closet back in the States, before we moved. Mildew on the walls and ceiling. Dark spots on the concrete floor, like oil stains in a garage—except these were the product of human, not vehicular, malfunction.

This was Le Mitard, the prison within a prison. Solitary confinement, to Americans.

Boulez didn't enjoy being here. He didn't like to get his manicured hands dirty. He had a purpose for visiting me, and he was about to get to the point.

"Tell me what drug you used," he said. "It will be a simple matter of inventorying the contents of our drug cabinet to see what is missing. Easier for us if you just confess." His English, though heavily accented, was flawless. Most of the educated French spoke fluent English.

I coughed. Blood spattered onto my brown pants.

"I will not ask a second time," he said.

"Good. So I won't have to keep ignoring you."

He blinked his eyes in concentration. His mind took a moment to track what I'd said. Then he grimaced. "Or was it suicide?" he asked. "Each of you had access to the drugs. Either she killed herself or you poisoned her. Which was it, Abbie?"

His delight in saying these words to me was evident. We both knew that neither of those alternatives was true. But he was making it clear that one of them would be the official story.

"Winnie would never kill herself," I said. "Don't you ever say that she did."

"Ah." He raised his chin. "So, murder."

He was trying to get a rise out of me. This guy should stay a prison warden forever. There was no better outlet for sadism.

"You would naturally blame her for your predicament," he said.

I coughed again. Same result. I wiped my chin on my shoulder, not having my hands available to me.

"I'm not going to forget what happened today," I said. "Someone's going to pay for this."

"I have a better idea." Boulez walked toward me, confidently enough given my restraints. He stood a few feet away, just outside the reach of my legs should I kick out at him.

"Confess to the double murder," he said. "And what happened to your friend Winnie will be considered a suicide."

Sure. None of the four of us had confessed at trial. Boulez wanted to be the hero who secured my confession, a piece of red meat he could toss to the carnivorous international media—and to the French voters, when the time came.

"And if I don't?" I asked.

"Well, you've already committed two murders. A third? We cannot imprison you beyond your natural life, now, can we? But there are other ways to punish, Abbie." He walked back toward the cell door. "I'll give you forty-five days to think about it."

"I think you mean thirty, Boulez." A French law had been passed recently, limiting time in Le Mitard to thirty-day stretches. But everyone at JRF knew there were ways around that restriction.

"Did I say forty-five? Ah, well." The corners of his mouth curled up. He rapped on the door with his knuckles. It popped open with a buzz.

"Boulez," I said. "You won't win. One day I'm going to walk out of this place."

His eyes narrowed. Then his smile broadened. "Madame, you are the most famous criminal in the history of France. You'll never walk out of here."

With that, Boulez disappeared. The lighting, controlled from outside the cell, went out, plunging me into darkness. For thirty days. Or maybe forty-five.

Or maybe for the rest of my life.

All because of two nights in Monte Carlo.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
ISBN: 1607884682
$34.98/U.S.
Hachette Audio
Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theaters across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama, One Life to Live.

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

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