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London Bridges

Alex Cross is back in his tenth and most explosive adventure yet.

In broad desert daylight, a mysterious platoon of soldiers evacuates the entire population of Sunrise Valley, Nevada. Minutes later, a huge bomb detonates a hundred feet above the ground and lays waste to homes, cars, and playgrounds: a town annihilated in an instant.

And so is the Wolf
Alex Cross is on vacation in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Jamilla Hughes, when he gets the call. The Russian supercriminal known as the Wolf claims responsibility for the blast. The Wolf is the deadliest nemesis Cross has ever faced, and the fact that he is still at large is agonizing for him and his new bosses at the FBI.

And so is the Weasel
Major cities around the globe, including London, Paris, and New York, are threatened with total destruction. The Wolf has proven he can do it - the only question is who can stop him in time. Surveillance film of the blast reveals the presence of another of Alex Cross's most dangerous enemies, the ruthless assassin known as the Weasel. The thought of these two dark geniuses joining forces makes Alex's blood run cold.

Now are you scared?

World leaders have just four days to prevent an unimaginable cataclysm. In a matter of hours, Cross is catapulted into an international chase of astonishing danger. Joining forces with Scotland Yard and Interpol, Alex fights his way through a torrent of false leads, impersonators, and foreign agents before he gets close to the heart of the crimes. Racing down the hairpin turns of the Riviera in the most unforgettable finale James Patterson has ever written, Alex Cross confronts the truth of the Wolf's identity - a revelation that even Cross himself may be unable to survive.

Part One: THE UNTHINKABLE

Chapter 3

ON THE SUNNY, blue-skied afternoon when one of them would die unexpectedly, needlessly, Frances and Dougie Puslowski were hanging sheets and pillowcases and the kids' play clothes out to dry in the noonday sun.

Suddenly U.S. Army soldiers began to arrive at their mobile-home park, Azure Views, in Sunrise Valley, Nevada. Lots of soldiers. A full convoy of U.S. jeeps and trucks came bouncing up the dirt road they lived on, and stopped abruptly. Troops poured out of the vehicles. The soldiers were heavily armed. They definitely meant business.

"What in the name of sweet Jesus is going on?" asked Dougie, who was currently on disability from the Cortey Mine outside Wells and was still trying to get used to the domestic scene. But Dougie knew that he was failing pretty badly. He was almost always depressed, always grumpy and mean-spirited, and always short with poor Frances and the kids.

Dougie noticed that the soldier boys and girls climbing out of their trucks were outfitted in battle dress uniform: leather boots, camouflage pants, olive T-shirts - the whole kit and caboodle, as if this were Iraq and not the ass end of Nevada. They carried M-16 rifles and ran toward the closest trailers with muzzles raised. Some of the soldiers even looked scared themselves.

The desert wind was blowing pretty good, and their voices carried all the way to the Puslowskis' clothesline. Frances and Dougie clearly heard "We're evacuating the town! This is an emergency situation. Everyone has to leave their houses now! Now, people!"

Frances Puslowski had the presence of mind to notice that all the soldiers were pretty much saying the same thing, as if they had rehearsed it, and that their tight, solemn faces sure showed that they wouldn't take no for an answer. The Puslowskis' three-hundred-odd neighbors - some of them very odd - were already leaving their mobile homes, complaining about it but definitely doing as they were told.

The next-door neighbor, Delta Shore, ran over to Frances. "What's happening, hon? Why are all these soldiers here? My good God Almighty! Can you believe it? They must be from Nellis or Fallon or someplace. I'm a little scared, Frances. You scared, hon?"

The clothespin in Frances's mouth finally dropped to the ground as she spoke to Delta. "They say that they're evacuating us. I've got to get the girls."

Then Frances ran inside the mobile home, and at 240- some pounds, she had believed her sprinting, or even jogging, days were far behind her.

"Madison, Brett, c'mere, you two. Nothin' to be scared of. We just have to leave for a while! It'll be fun. Like a movie. Get a move on, you two!"

The girls, ages two and four, appeared from the small bedroom where they'd been watching Rolie Polie Olie on the Disney Channel. Madison, the oldest, offered her usual "Why? Why do we have to? I don't want to. I won't. We're too busy, Momma."

Frances grabbed her cell phone off the kitchen counter - and then the next really strange thing happened. She tried to get a line to the police, but there was nothing except loud static. Now that had never happened before, not that kind of annoying, buzzy noise she was hearing. Was some kind of invasion going down? Something nuclear, maybe?

"Damn it!" she snapped at the buzzing cell phone, and almost started to cry. "What is going on here?"

"You said a bad word!" Brett squeaked, but she also laughed at her mother. She kind of liked bad words. It was as if her mother had made a mistake, and she loved it when adults made mistakes.

"Get Mrs. Summerkin and Oink," Frances told the girls, who would not leave the house without their two favorite lovies, not even if the infernal plague of Egypt had come to town. Frances prayed that it hadn't - but what had? Why was the U.S. Army swarming all over the place, waving scary guns in people's faces?

She could hear her frightened neighbors outside, verbalizing the very thoughts racing around in her head: "What's happened?" "Who says we have to leave?" "Tell us why!" "Over my dead body, soldier! You hear me, now?"

That last voice was Dougie's! Now what was he up to? "Dougie, come back in the house!" Frances yelled. "Help me with these girls! Dougie, I need you in here." There was a gunshot outside! A loud, lightning-bolt crack exploded from one of the rifles.

Frances ran to the screen door - here she was, running again - and saw two U.S. Army soldiers standing over Dougie's body.

Oh my God, Dougie isn't moving. Oh my God, oh my God! The soldiers had shot him down like a rabid dog. For nothing! Frances started to shiver and shake, then threw up lunch.

Her girls screeched, "Yuk, Mommy! Mommy, yuk! You threw up all over the kitchen!"

Then suddenly a soldier with a couple of days' facial growth on his chin kicked open the screen door and he was right in her face and he was screaming, "Get out of this trailer! Now! Unless you want to die, too."

The soldier had the business end of a gun pointed right at Frances. "I'm not kidding, lady," he said. "Tell the truth, I'd just as soon shoot you as talk to you."

Copyright © 2004 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez and Denis O'Hare
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