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Mary, Mary

Alex Cross travels to Hollywood to hunt for a brutal killer in his most terrifying case yet.

FBI Agent Alex Cross is on vacation with his family in Disneyland when he gets a call from the Director. A well-known actress was shot outside her home in Beverly Hills. Shortly afterward, an editor for the Los Angeles Times receives an e-mail describing the murder in vivid details. Alex quickly learns that this is not an isolated incident. The killer, known as Mary Smith, has done this before and plans to kill again.

Right from the beginning, this case is like nothing Alex has ever been confronted with before. Is this the plan of an obsessed fan or a spurned actor, or is it part of something much more frightening? Now members of Hollywood's A-list fear they're next on Mary's list, and the case grows by blockbuster proportions as the LAPD and FBI scramble to find a pattern before Mary can send one more chilling update.

Filled with the ruthless and shocking twists that make his fans hunger for more, Mary, Mary is James Patterson's most sophisticated thriller yet.

Chapter 5

HERE WE WERE, smack in the middle of an age of angry and cynical myth-busting, and suddenly I was being called "America's Sherlock Holmes" in one of the country's more influential, or at least best-read, magazines. What a complete crock that was, and it was still bugging me that morning. An investigative journalist named James Truscott had decided to follow me around and report on the murder cases I was working on. I'd fooled him, though. I'd gone on vacation with the family.

"I'm going to Disneyland!" I told Truscott and laughed the last time I'd seen him in D.C. The writer had only smirked in response.

For anyone else, maybe a vacation was an ordinary thing. Happened all the time, twice a year sometimes. For the Cross family, it was a major event, a new beginning.

Appropriately, "A Whole New World" was playing in the hotel lobby as we passed through.

"Come on, you pokes!" Jannie urged us as she ran ahead. Damon, newly minted teenager, was somewhat more reserved. He stuck close and held the door for Nana as we passed from air-conditioned comfort out into bright Southern California sunshine.

Actually, it was a full-out attack on the senses from the moment we left the hotel. Scents of cinnamon, fried dough, and some kind of zingy Mexican food reached our noses all at the same time. I could also hear the distant roar of a freight train, or so it seemed, along with screams of terror - the good kind, the "don't stop" kind. I'd heard enough of the other kind to appreciate the difference.

Against all odds, I had put in for vacation, been approved, and actually gotten out of town before FBI Director Burns or his people came up with a half-dozen reasons why I couldn't go away at this time. The kids' first choice had been Disneyworld and Epcot Village in Florida. For my own reasons, and also since it was hurricane season down South, I steered us to Disneyland and their newest park, Disney's California Adventure.

"California, indeed." Nana Mama shaded her eyes from the sun glare. "I haven't seen a naturally occurring thing since we arrived here, Alex. Have you?"

She pursed her lips and pulled down the corners of her mouth, but then she couldn't help laughing, putting herself in stitches. That's Nana. She almost never laughs at other people - she laughs with them.

"You can't fool me, old woman. You just love to see us all together. Anywhere, anyhow, anytime. We could be in Siberia for all you'd care."

She brightened. "Now, Siberia. That's somewhere I would like to see. A trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Sayany Mountains, Lake Baikal. You know, it wouldn't kill American children to take a vacation once in a while where they actually learned something about another culture."

I rolled my eyes in Damon and Jannie's direction. "Once a teacher . . ."

"Always a teacher," Jannie said. "Always a tee-cha," repeated Little Alex. He was three years old, and our own little myna bird. We got to see him too infrequently, and I was partially amazed by everything he did. His mother had taken him back to Seattle more than a year ago. The painful custody struggles between Christine and me were still dragging on.

Nana's voice cut through my thoughts. "Where do we go fir-"

"Soarin' Over California!" Jannie had it out before Nana was even finished asking the question.

Damon chimed in. "Okay, but then we're hitting California Screamin'."

Jannie stuck her tongue out convivially at her brother, and he gently hip-checked her in return. It was like Christmas morning for these two - even the disagreements were mostly in fun.

"Sounds like a plan," I said. "And then we'll hit It's Tough to Be a Bug! for your little brother."

I scooped up Alex Junior in my arms and held him close, kissed both of his cheeks. He looked back at me with his peaceable little smile.

Life was good again.

Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez, Melissa Leo, & Michael Louis Wells
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