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Tick Tock

NYC's #1 detective, Michael Bennett, has a huge problem—the Son of Sam, the Werewolf of Wisteria and the Mad Bomber are all back. The city has never been more terrified!

Tick—a killer's countdown begins, but...
A rash of horrifying crimes tears through the city, throwing it into complete chaos and terrorizing everyone living there. Immediately, it becomes clear that they are not the work of an amateur, but of a calculating, efficient, and deadly mastermind.

Tick—can Michael Bennett catch him before...
The city calls on Detective Michael Bennett, pulling him away from a seaside retreat with his ten adopted children, his grandfather, and their beloved nanny, Mary Catherine. Not only does it tear apart their first vacation since Michael's wife Maeve died—it leaves the entire family open to attack.

Tock—your time is up.
Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker. As his affection for Emily grows into something stronger, his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. All too soon, another appalling crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer's pattern and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan. From the creator of the #1 New York detective series comes the most volatile and most explosive Michael Bennett novel ever.


Chapter 5

A BIG BALD GUY with a twirly black mustache and tactical blue fatigues met me beneath the landmark building's massive portico. With his mustache, Paul Cell bore a striking resemblance to the guy on the Bomb Squad's logo patch, depicting a devil-may-care Red Baron–looking guy riding a bomb in front of the skyline of Manhattan.

"We got the parked cars and street furniture sniffed, so I'm pretty sure there aren't any secondary devices," Cell said. "Think about it. Draw in the first responders with a decoy. That's what I'd do. Look at all these windows. Some jihadist could be behind any one of them right now with his finger on the button, watching us, aching for that glorious thump and flash of holy light."

"Christ, Paul, please," I said, clutching my chest. "I skipped my Lipitor this morning."

Cell and his guys were the world's elite in bomb handling, as tight and quick and efficient as an NHL team.

More so probably since the penalty box on this squad was made of pine. All cops are crazy, but these guys took the cake.

"Fine, fine. You ready to see the main attraction?" Cell said, ushering me through the library door with a gracious wave of his hand.

"No, but let's do it, anyway," I said, taking a breath.

We passed another half dozen even more nervous-looking cops as we crossed the library's monster marble entry hall to a flight of stone stairs. More bomb techs were helping their buddy out of the green astronaut-like Kevlar bomb suit in the ostentatious wood-paneled rotunda on the third floor. Another guy was putting away the four-wheeler wireless robot and the X-ray equipment.

"Uh, won't we need that stuff?" I said.

Cell shook his head.

"We already deactivated the device. Actually, we didn't have to. It wasn't meant to go off. Here, I'll show you."

I reluctantly followed him into the cavernous reading room. The space resembled a ballroom and was even more impressive than the entry hall, with its massive arched windows, chandeliers, and nineteenth-century indoor football field of books. The last library table in the northern end zone of the elaborate room was covered by a thick orange Kevlar bomb-suppression blanket. I felt my pulse triple and my hands clench involuntarily as Cell lifted it off.

In the center of the table was what looked like a white laptop. Then I saw the nails and wires and claylike plastique explosive where the keyboard should have been, and shivered.

On the screen, the chilling and redundant words I AM A BOMB flashed on and off before the scrolling message:




"This guy has style," Cell said, looking almost admiringly at the bomb. "It's basically like a Claymore mine. Two K's of plastique behind all these nails, one huge mother of a shotgun shell. All wired to a nifty motion-sensitive mercury switch, only the second one I've ever seen. He even glued it to the desk so someone would have to open it and spill the mercury."

"How...interactive of him," I said, shaking my head.

By far, my least favorite part of the message was the ominous reference to the next one. I was afraid of that. It looked like somebody wanted to play a little game with the NYPD. Considering I was on vacation, unless it was beach ball, I really wasn't that interested in games.

"He used a real light touch with a soldering gun to wire it up to the battery. He must know computers as well, because even though the hard drive is missing, he was able to program his little greeting card through the computer's firmware internal operating system."

"Why didn't it go off?" I said.

"He cut one of the wires and capped both ends in order for it not to go off, thank God. Security guy said the room was packed, like it is every Saturday. This would have killed a dozen people easily, Mike. Maybe two dozen. The blast wave itself from this much plastique could collapse a house."

We stared silently at the scrolling message.

"It almost sounds like a poem, doesn't it?" Cell said.

"Yeah," I said, taking out my BlackBerry and speed-dialing my boss. "I've even seen the style before. It's called psychotic pentameter."

"Tell me what we got, Mike," Miriam said a moment later.

"Miriam," I said, staring at the flashing I AM A BOMB. "What we got here is a problem."

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Bobby Cannavale & Scott Sowers

Bobby Cannavale was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Mauritius. On television, Bobby won an Emmy for his performance in Will & Grace, Bobby's film credits include The Station Agent, Fast Food Nation, Snakes on a Plane, The Bone Collector, and Washington Heights. He also read Run for Your Life and Worst Case for Hachette Audio.

Scott Sowers' Broadway credits include Bus Stop, A Streetcar Named Desire, Inherit the Wind and A Few Good Men (LA Dramalogue Award for Performance). Scott is a lifetime member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre. His TV credits include HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, Cracker and All My Children. Scott's film credits include True Grit, The Ten, The Village, Dead Man Walking, Erin Brockovich, Magnolia, and My Mother Dreams...(winner, 2000 Academy Award for Short Feature).

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Prologue to Chapter 3
Clip #2
Chapters 4 to 8
Clip #3
Chapters 9 to 13
Clip #4
Chapters 14 to 18
Clip #5
Chapters 19 to 22
Clip #6
Chapters 23 to 26
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