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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 6

THAT WAS WHEN I SAW James Truscott approaching, all six foot five of him, with waves of red hair hanging down over the shoulders of a black leather jacket.

Somehow, some way, Truscott had gotten his editors in New York to agree to do a continuing series on me, based on my track record for getting involved with high-profile murder cases on a fairly regular basis. Maybe it was because the last one, involving the Russian Mafiya, had been the worst case of my career and also very high-profile. I had taken the liberty of doing some research on Truscott. He was only thirty, educated at Boston University. His specialty was true crime, and he'd published two nonfiction books on the mafia. A phrase I'd heard about him stuck in my head: He plays dirty.

"Alex," he said, smiling and extending his hand as if we were old friends meeting by chance. Reluctantly, I shook hands with Truscott. It wasn't that I disliked him, or objected to his right to write whatever stories he wanted to, but he had already intruded into my life in ways that I felt were inappropriate - like writing daily e-mails and arriving at crime scenes, and even at our house in D.C. Now, here he was, showing up on our family vacation.

"Mr. Truscott," I said in a quiet voice, "you know I've declined to cooperate with these articles."

"No problem." He grinned. "I'm cool with that." "I'm not," I said. "I'm officially off the clock. This is family time. Can you give us some space? We're at Disneyland." Truscott nodded as though he understood completely, but then he said, "Your vacation will be interesting to our readers. The calm-before-the-storm kind of thing. This is great! Disneyland is perfect. You have to understand that, right?"

"I don't!" Nana said, and stepped toward Truscott. "Your right to stick out your arm ends at the other person's nose. You ever hear that wise bit of advice, young man? Well, you should have. You know, you have some kind of nerve being here."

Just then, though, I caught something even more disturbing out of the corner of my eye - a movement that didn't fit the circumstances: a woman in black, slowly circling to our left.

She had a digital camera and was already taking pictures of us - of my family. Of Nana confronting Truscott.

I shielded the kids as best I could, and then I really lit into James Truscott. "Don't you dare photograph my kids!" I said. "Now you and your girlfriend get out of here. Please, go." Truscott raised his hands over his head, smiled cockily, and then backed away. "I have rights, just like you, Dr. Cross. And she's not my fucking girlfriend. She's a colleague. This is all business. It's a story."

"Right," I said. "Well, just get out of here. This little boy is three years old. I don't want my family's story in a magazine. Not now, not ever."

Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson

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