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NYPD Red

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)

BOOK ONE | THERE’S NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE

Chapter 2

GERRI’S DINER IS on Lexington Avenue just around the corner from the 19th Precinct and directly across the street from Hunter College. Breakfast was in full swing when I got there, but at 5:00 in the morning there’s zero risk of bumping into any college kids. It was mostly cabbies, construction workers, and cops, one of whom has a PhD instead of a gun.

Cheryl Robinson is a department shrink. In addition to her extensive understanding of human behavior and her finely tuned listening skills, Dr. Robinson has something that sets her apart from other psychologists I’ve met. She is drop-dead gorgeous. Despite the fact that she swears she’s ninety percent Irish, she has the dark brown eyes, jet-black hair, and the glorious caramel skin of her Latina grandmother.

I won’t lie. I’ve been attracted to Cheryl since the day we met at a hostage negotiations seminar. But she was married, and, for me, that meant off-limits. Recently her marital status had changed, but the ink was barely dry on her divorce papers. This morning she was sitting alone in a booth, and judging by her body language and the soulful look in her eyes, she was still wrestling with the ghost of her failed relationship.

For some guys that’s an open invitation. They see a woman in full-blown rebound mode as an easy target, ready to compensate for the emptiness in her life with a night of uncomplicated, no-strings-attached sex. But I’m not one of those guys. At this point, Cheryl and I had become good friends, and she looked like she needed a friend more than a fling.

I bought two large coffees to go, bagged one, and opened the other. “Do you mind if I join you?” I said, sliding into the booth across from her. “You have Damsel in Distress oozing out of every pore, and I have this hyperactive White Knight gene.”

“I thought all cops had that problem,” she said. “But you’re the first one to come over and try to cheer me up.”

“That’s because you also have Department Shrink oozing out of every pore,” I said. “They’re afraid if they sit down and talk, you’ll start analyzing them.”

“What’s to analyze?” she said. “They’re all crazy, so they became cops, and they’re all cops, so they stay crazy.”

There were a bunch of open sugar packets on the table in front of her. I picked one up. “Having read the entire Hardy Boys series as a kid,” I said, “I’m guessing that based on the amount of sugar you’ve gone through, you’ve been here about forty minutes.”

She looked at her watch. “An hour.”

“I guess even shrinks have problems that wake them up in the middle of the night,” I said.

“Same problem, different night,” she said. “Fred.”

“I thought your divorce came through a couple of weeks ago. Based on the laws of the state of New York, isn’t he officially no longer your problem?”

“He emailed me last night. He’s engaged.”

“Hmm,” I said, nodding my head thoughtfully and slowly, stroking the imaginary goatee on my chin. “Und how does zat make you feel?”

She laughed. “That’s the worst Dr. Freud impression I’ve ever heard.”

“Actually, it was Dr. Phil, but you’re deflecting the question.”

“Look, I don’t care if the bastard remarries, but I’d feel better if it took him more than fourteen days to get over me.”

“You’re right, Doc,” I said. “He could at least have held off till you got over him. Oh wait, you are.”

She laughed. “I hit the wall with Fred two years before the divorce.”

“So now some other woman gets to suffer. Win-win.”

“Thanks a lot,” she said. “Now I get to play doctor. What woke you up so early?”

“It’s going to be a crazy week. A bunch of free-spirited Hollywood types are about to descend on New York, and I wanted to gird myself for their arrival.”

“I see,” she said. “And it has nothing to do with the fact that today’s the first day you’re partnering up with your ex-girlfriend.”

Cheryl Robinson knew all about my history with Kylie. It happened one night at a retirement party. Cheryl was a good listener, and I was just drunk enough to open up. I had no regrets. In fact, it was kind of therapeutic to be able to talk to a professional and still keep it off the record.

“You know, I think you’re right. Kylie does start today,” I said. “And hey, I never thanked you for helping her get the job.”

If I had to zero in on the most beautiful part of Cheryl Robinson, it would have to be her smile. It’s like she has an on switch, and the second it’s flipped, the dark eyes, white teeth, and full lips all light up at once. My snide little remark, which might have backfired with someone else, tripped that switch, and I got a dazzling, thousand-megawatt smile.

“Nicely done, Detective,” she said. “Make me the heavy. But no, I didn’t help Kylie MacDonald get the job. She did it on her own. Captain Cates asked me to take a peek at her P-file off the record. It was stellar. Apparently, the fact that you two had a go at it didn’t hurt her career.”

I raised my coffee cup. “Here’s hoping it doesn’t hurt my career.”

She rested her hand gently on mine, and I swear I almost dropped my cup. “Zach,” she said softly. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Let the past be the past and start fresh.”

“That’s good advice, Doc,” I said, laying my hand on top of hers. “For both of us.”

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Edoardo Ballerini & Jay Snyder

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.

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