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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 3

RUNNING HARD, AND using my siren most of the way, it took less than an hour and a half to get down to richmond.

The Department of Forensic Science was housed in a new building on Marshall Street. Davies had arranged for Detective Corin Fellows from the State Police CI Bureau to meet us there—Bree and me.

"The car's been towed to our lot up at division headquarters on route one," Fellows told us. "otherwise, everything's here. The remains are downstairs in the morgue. All the obvious evidentiary material is in the lab on this level."

There was that terrible word again. Remains.

"What did you bag?" Bree asked him.

"Troopers found some women's clothing and a small black purse wrapped in a mover's blanket in the trunk. Here. I pulled this to show you."

He handed me a rhode Island driver's license in a plastic sleeve. The only thing I recognized at first was Caroline's name. The girl in the photo looked quite beautiful to me, like a dancer, with her hair pulled back from her face and a high forehead. And the big eyes—I remembered those, too.

Eyes as big as the sky. That's what my older brother Blake had always said. I could see him now, rocking her on the old porch glider on Fifth Street and laughing every time she blinked up at him. He was in love with that baby girl. We all were. Sweet Caroline.

Now both of them were gone. My brother to drugs. And Caroline? What had happened to her?

I handed the driver's license back to Detective Fellows and asked him to point us toward the investigating Me's office. If I was going to get through this at all, I had to keep moving.

The medical examiner, Dr. Amy Carbondale, met us downstairs. When we shook hands, hers was still a little cool from the latex gloves she'd been wearing. She seemed awfully young for this kind of work, maybe early thirties, and a little unsure of what to do with me, what to say.

"Dr. Cross, I've followed your work. I'm very, very sorry for your loss," she said in a near whisper that carried sympathy and respect.

"If you could just give me the facts of the case, I'd appreciate it," I told her.

She adjusted her glasses, silver wire rims, working up to it. "Based on the samples I took, there was apparently a ninety-six percent morselization of the body. A few digits did survive, and we were able to get a print match to the name on the license that was found."

"Excuse me—morselization?" I'd never heard the word before in my life.

To her credit, Dr. Carbondale looked me right in the eye. "there's every reason to believe a grinder of some sort was used—likely a wood chipper."

Her words took my breath away. I felt them in my chest. A wood chipper? then I was thinking: Why keep her clothes and driver's license? As proof of Caroline's identity? A souvenir for the killer?

Dr. Carbondale was still talking. "I'll do a full tox screen, run a DNA profile, and of course we'll sieve for bullet fragments or other metals, but actual cause of death is going to be hard to prove here, if not impossible."

"Where is she?" I asked, just trying to focus. Where were Caroline's remains?

"Dr. Cross, are you sure right now is the time "

"He's sure," Bree said. She knew what I needed, and she gestured toward the lab. "let's get on with it. Please, Doctor. We're all professionals here."

We followed Dr. Carbondale through two sets of swinging doors into an examination room that resembled a bunker. It had a gray concrete floor and a high tiled ceiling, mounted with cameras and umbrella lights. There were the usual sinks and stainless steel everywhere, and a single white body bag on one of the narrow silver tables.

Right away, I could see something was very strange. Wrong. Both.

The body bag bulged in the middle and lay flat against the table at the ends. I was dreading this in a way I couldn't have imagined beforehand.

The remains.

Dr. Carbondale stood across from us and pulled back the zipper. "the heat sealing is ours," she said. "I closed it back up after my initial exam earlier."

Inside the body bag there was a second bag. This one looked like some kind of industrial plastic. It was a frosted white translucent material, just clear enough to show the color of meat and blood and bone inside.

I felt like my mind shut down for a few seconds, which was as long as I could deny what I was seeing. It was a dead person in that bag but not a body.

Caroline but not Caroline.

Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson

Read by Tim Cain & Michael Cerveris

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