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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.

Part One | FIRESTORM

Chapter 1

I CELEBRATED MY birthday with a small, very exclusive, very festive and fun party on Fifth Street. It was just the way I wanted it.

Damon had come home from boarding school in Massachusetts as a special surprise. Nana was there, acting large and in charge of the festivities, along with my babies, Jannie and Ali. Sampson and his family were on hand; and of course Bree was there.

Only the people I loved most in the world were invited. Who else would you want to celebrate another year older and wiser with?

I even made a little speech that night, most of which I forgot immediately, but not the opening few words. "I, Alex Cross," I began, "do solemnly promise—to all those present at this birthday party—to do my best to balance my life at home with my work life, and not to go over to the dark side ever again."

Nana raised her coffee cup in salute, but then she said, "too late for that," which got a laugh.

Then, to a person, everybody did their best to make sure I was aging with a little humility but also a smile on my face.

"Remember the time at redskin stadium?" Damon cackled. "When Dad locked the keys in the old car?"

I tried cutting in. "to be fair "

"Called me out of bed past midnight," Sampson said, and growled.

"Only after he tried breaking in for an hour because he didn't want to admit he couldn't do it," Nana said.

Jannie cupped a hand around her ear. "'Cause he's what?" And everyone chorused back, "America's Sherlock Holmes!" It was a reference to a national-magazine piece from a few years ago that I will apparently never live down.

I swigged my beer. "Brilliant career—or so they say—dozens of big cases solved, and what am I remembered for? Seems to me, someone was supposed to have a happy birthday tonight."

"Which reminds me," Nana said, somehow taking the bait and cutting me off at the same time. "We've got a piece of unfinished business here. Children?"

Jannie and Ali jumped up, more excited than anyone. Apparently, there was a Big Surprise coming for me now. No one was saying what it was, but I'd already opened a pair of Serengetis from Bree, a loud shirt and two minis of tequila from Sampson, and a stack of books from the kids that included the latest george Pelecanos and a biography of Keith richards.

Another clue, if I can call it that, was the fact that Bree and I had become notorious plan cancelers, with one long weekend after another falling by the wayside since we'd met. You might think that working in the same department, same division—Homicide—would make it easier for us to coordinate our schedules, but it was just the opposite most of the time.

So I had some idea, but nothing really specific, about what might be coming.

"Alex, you stay put," said Ali. He'd started calling me Alex lately, which I thought was all right but for some reason gave Nana the creeps.

Bree said she'd keep an eye on me and stayed back while everyone else snuck off to the kitchen.

"The plot thickens," I muttered.

"Even as we speak," said Bree with a smile and a wink. "Just the way you like it."

She was on the couch, across from where I sat in one of the old club chairs. Bree always looked good, but I preferred her like this, casual and comfortable in jeans and bare feet. Her eyes started on the floor and worked their way up to mine.

"Come here often?" she asked.

"Once in a while, yeah. You?"

She sipped her beer and casually cocked her head. "Want to get out of here?"

"Sure thing." I jerked my thumb toward the kitchen door. "Just as soon as I get rid of those pesky, um "

"Beloved family members?"

I couldn't help thinking that this birthday was getting better and better. Now I had two big surprises coming up.

Make that three.

The phone rang in the hall. It was our home line, not my cell, which everyone knew to use for work. I also had a pager up on the dresser where I could hear it. So it seemed safe to go ahead and answer. I even thought it might be some friendly soul calling to wish me a happy birthday, or at the very worst, someone trying to sell me a satellite dish.

Will I ever learn? Probably not in this lifetime.

Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson

Read by Tim Cain & Michael Cerveris

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