Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City—and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career.
At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.
Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemend building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the demented caller seriously—and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.
Prologue | CALIFORNIA LEAVING
I WAS BACK IN the hallway outside the still-turbulent courtroom when Joe and the rest of my US Marshal bodyguards rushed over.
“Looks like the stooges outside on the plaza are going wild after the verdict, Mike,” Big Joe said with concern. “I already radioed down to Larry Burns. We’re going to take you out back through the prisoner paddock.”
“Sounds good, Joe,” I said, walking past him toward the corner of the hallway. “Just let me hit the boys’ room and I’ll be right with you.”
Actually, I didn’t need to use the restroom. I was still massively keyed up after sitting across from Tara’s killers and the last thing I needed was to get back into the coffin of the SUV, no matter how safe it was.
That was why I decided to do what I did next. It was time to cut the apron strings and leave the prisoner entrances to the prisoners from here on out.
I passed right by the bathroom and found the stairwell door and used it and headed down.
Joe was right, I saw immediately when I approached the main entrance in the downstairs lobby. The quote unquote protesters seemed spitting mad where they milled around behind the aluminum sidewalk barricades at the bottom of the courthouse steps. I was just in time to see the action begin. One of the gangbangers knocked one of the barricades over and then there were several loud bangs as the LA riot cops broke out the tear gas. The crowd scattered like leaves on the business end of an air rake, running back out into North Spring Street and the corporate plaza on its opposite side.
“Hey, buddy, you know there’s a side entrance you can use,” one of the court officers manning the metal detectors said to me as I picked up my gun and headed for the front door. “Looks a little hairy out there.”
“That’s OK, friend,” I said, winking as I flashed my shield. “I’m a barber.”
Coming down the steps, I smiled as the LA cops pushed the punks back farther into the corporate park. You could see from the signs lying in the gutter that the protest was pretty much over. The crowd was already breaking up into little groups and going home.
Evildoers had been brought to justice upstairs, and now order had been restored down here. Score one for the good guys. It looked like we’d won. Well, today’s battle, at least.
I walked up Temple Street behind the courthouse. It really was a nice day, temperate, not a hint of a breeze, the intense California light bright and unmoving on the bleached-looking white buildings. My native New Yorker’s impression of LA was that it was beautiful, even perfect in some ways, yet slightly off-putting, like an austere, alluring blonde wearing a slightly strange expression that makes you suddenly wonder if maybe she might be completely out of her mind.
My cell phone went off as I made the corner. It was my US Marshal buddy Joe Kelly. I was about to pick it up, but then I decided to text him back instead.
I’m fine, Joe. I decided I’m going to get back home on my own. If I need you I’ll call.
Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson
Read by Danny Mastrogiorgio