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I, Alex Cross

The best—and scariest!—Alex Cross novel since Along Came a Spider!

You can't run
Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. Alex vows to hunt down the killer, and soon learns that she was mixed up in one of Washington's wildest scenes. And she was not this killer's only victim.

You can't hide
The hunt for the murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in. Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain—they will do anything to keep their secrets safe.

Alex Cross is your only hope to stay alive
As Alex closes in on the killer, he discovers evidence that points to the unimaginable—a revelation that could rock the entire world. With the unstoppable action, unforeseeable twists, and edge-of-your-seat suspense that only a James Patterson thriller delivers, I, Alex Cross is the master of suspense at his sharpest and best.

Prologue | FIRE AND WATER

One

HANNAH WILLIS WAS a second-year law student at Virginia, and everything that lay ahead of her seemed bright and promising—except, of course, that she was about to die in these dark, gloomy, dismal woods.

Go, Hannah, she told herself. Just go. Stop thinking. Whining and crying won't help you now. Running just might.

Hannah stumbled and staggered forward until her hands found another tree trunk to hold on to. She leaned her aching body into it, waiting for the strength to take another breath. And then to move another burst of steps forward.

Keep going, or you'll die right here in these woods. It's that simple.

The bullet lodged somewhere in her lower back made every movement, every breath an agony, more pain than Hannah had ever known was possible. It was only the threat of a second bullet, or maybe worse, that kept her on her feet and going at all.

God, the woods were almost pitch-black back in here. A quarter moon drooping over the thick forest canopy did little to light the ground below. Trees were shadows. Thorns and brambles were invisible in the underbrush; they pierced and raked her legs bloody as she pushed through. What little she'd been wearing to begin with—just an expensive black lace teddy—now hung in shreds off her shoulders.

None of that mattered, though, or even registered with Hannah anymore. The only clear thought that cut through the pain, and the panic, was go, girl. The rest was a wordless, directionless nightmare.

Finally, and very suddenly—had it been an hour? more?—the low canopy of trees opened up around her. "What the..." Dirt turned to gravel underfoot, and Hannah stumbled to her knees with nothing to hang on to.

In the hazy moonlight, she could make out the ghost of a double line, showing the curve of a country road. It was like a miracle to her. Half of one, anyway; she knew she wasn't out of this mess yet.

When a motor sounded in the distance, Hannah leaned on her hands and pushed up off the gravel. Summoning strength she didn't know she still had, she stood again, then staggered into the middle of the road. Her world blurred through sweat and fresh tears.

Please, dear god, don't let this be them. This can't be those two bastards.

You can't be so cruel, can you?

A red truck careened around the bend then, coming at her fast. Too fast! Suddenly, she was just as blind as she'd been before, in the woods, but from the truck's headlights.

"Stop! Please stop! Pleee-ase!" she screamed. "Stop, you sonofabitch!"

At the last possible second, the tires squealed on the pavement. The red pickup skidded into full view and stopped just short of flattening her right there into roadkill. She could feel heat coming off the engine through the grille.

"Hey, sweetheart, nice outfit! All you had to do was stick out your thumb."

The voice was unfamiliar—which was good, really good. Loud country music was blasting from the cab too—Charlie Daniels Band, her mind vaguely registered, just before Hannah collapsed onto the pavement.

The driver was down there on the road a second later as she regained consciousness. "oh, my god, I didn't... What happened to you? Are you—what happened to you?"

"Please." She barely mustered the word. "If they find me here, they'll kill us both."

The man's strong hands wrapped around her, grazing the dime-sized hole in her back as he picked her up. She only exhaled, too weak to scream now. A cluster of gray and indistinct moments later, they were inside the truck and moving really fast down the two-lane highway.

"Hang in there, darlin'." the driver's voice was shaky now. "tell me who did this to you."

Hannah could feel her consciousness slipping away again. "the men..."

"the men? What men, sweetheart? Who are you talking about?"

An answer floated vaguely through Hannah's mind, and she wasn't sure if she said it out loud or maybe just thought it before everything went away.

The men from the White House.

Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson

Read by Tim Cain & Michael Cerveris

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