NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan's wealthiest and most powerful citizens. When a world-famous movie producer is poisoned on the first day of a Manhattan film festival called Hollywood on the Hudson, they are the first ones called. Then an actor is killed on the set of a film. And a Molotov cocktail explodes at a movie premiere.
Detective First Grade Zach Jordan and his new partner—and ex-girlfriend—Detective Kylie MacDonald are assigned to the case. The killer has every murder, every escape, planned down to the last detail—and he's scripted an explosive finale that will bring New York and Hollywood to its knees. With larger-than-life action, relentless speed, and white-knuckle twists, NYPD RED is a mega-blockbuster from "The Man Who Can't Miss." (TIME)
Prologue | THE CHAMELEON
THE FILM BUSINESS in New York needs chameleons, and he was one of the best. It was all on his résumé—the Woody Allen movies, Law and Order, the soaps—at least a hundred features plus twice as many TV shows. Always in the background. Never saying a word. Never upstaging. Blending, blending, blending.
Not today. He was sick of being a face in the crowd. Today he was the star. And the producer, and the director, and the writer. It was his movie—the camera was in his head. He pulled a handful of script pages from his pocket.
INT. SOUNDSTAGE—SILVERCUP STUDIOS—DAY
We’re on the set of another piece-of-crap IAN STEWART movie. The scene is a 1940s wedding reception. Ian is THE GROOM. THE BRIDE is DEVON WHITAKER, all tits, no talent, and half Ian’s age. The happy couple steps onto the dance floor. A hundred WEDDING GUESTS look on, trying to act happy for them. EDIE COBURN, playing the jealous EX-WIFE, enters the room. She’s filled with rage. The guests are horrified. The camera moves in close on one of them. It’s the real star of this scene. It’s The Chameleon.
His cell phone vibrated, and he grabbed it. Lexi. Again.
“Guess what?” she said.
“Lex, you can’t keep calling me every five minutes,” he said. “I’m in a no-phone zone. The AD is a total hard-ass about it.”
“I know, I know, but I had to call,” she said. “It’s all over the Internet that Sid Roth is dead.”
“Baby, it’s been three hours,” The Chameleon said. “Some guy at his table was tweeting it before Roth hit the floor.”
“Yeah, all the stories say ‘apparent heart attack.’ But TMZ just said he was poisoned.”
“TMZ is full of shit. They’re a bunch of tabloid trashmongers. Everything they print is a lie.”
“But it’s true.”
“They don’t know that it’s true,” he said in a harsh whisper. “They won’t know anything till the autopsy. But they don’t care. They just put out whatever garbage will get eyeballs on their website.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s not your fault. It just screws up the flow of my script. The way I wrote it nobody is supposed to know about the poison till tomorrow. It’s a bigger payoff for the Ian Stewart–Edie Coburn thing.”
“How’s that going?”
“Lexi, I can’t talk now. I’m on the set.”
“Not fair,” she said, turning on her pouty voice. “If I can’t be there with you, at least keep me in the loop.”
“I am keeping you in the loop. I texted you a picture of me in wardrobe.”
“Oh, great. So now I have a screen saver of you dressed up like one of those goombahs in The Godfather. But I still don’t know what’s going on.”
“That’s the problem, Lexi. Nothing is going on. Nothing. Nada. There’s like a hundred extras sitting around since nine o’clock, but we haven’t rolled a single frame of film.”
“Did they tell you why?”
“They don’t tell us anything. But I heard Muhlenberg, the director, bitching to somebody on the phone. Edie refuses to come out of her trailer.”
“Probably because she’s pissed at Ian. It was all over TMZ that he’s been cheating on her.”
The Chameleon took a deep breath. Lexi was smart. Dean’s list four years running at USC. But brains took a backseat to her constant obsession with trivial crap like horoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and Internet chatter.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s cheating or not,” he said. “If Edie doesn’t come out, Ian won’t come out either.”
“They have to come out,” Lexi said. “It’s in our script.”
The Chameleon laughed. “I think Muhlenberg is in Edie’s trailer right now telling her it’s in his script.”
“Hey, asshole. You with the cell phone in your ear.”
The Chameleon looked up. It was the prick AD.
“No phones on the set means no phones on the set.”
“Sorry. I’ve been sitting around here forever. I got bored.”
“You’re an extra,” the AD said. “You get paid to be bored. Lose the phone or get off the lot.”
“Yes, sir.” He cupped his hand around the cell and whispered, “Lex, I’ve got to hang up. No more phone calls, okay?”
“Oh, crap,” she said. “Then how am I supposed to know when you’ve finished the scene?”
“It’ll be all over TMZ,” The Chameleon said. “Guaranteed.”
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Edoardo Ballerini is an actor and an award-winning audiobook narrator. On screen, he's best known for his working the television series The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and 24. Edoardo was nominated for a 2012 Audie Award for his recording of The Land of Laughs. AudioFile Magazine named him one of the "Best Voices of 2011."
Jay Snyder has performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, film, and works regularly in the voice-over industry.