NYPD Red—the task force attacking the most extreme crimes in America's most extreme city—hunts a killer who is on an impossible mission.
A vigilante serial killer is on the loose in New York City, tracking down and murdering people whose crimes have not been punished. The number of victims grows, and many New Yorkers secretly applaud the idea of justice won at any price.
NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald are put on the case when a woman of vast wealth and even greater connections disappears. Zach and Kylie have to find what's really behind this murderer's rampage while political and personal secrets of the highest order hang in the balance. But Kylie has been acting strange recently—and Zach knows whatever she's hiding could threaten the biggest case of their careers.
NYPD Red 2 is the next spectacular novel in James Patterson's newest series, a book that proves "there's no stopping his imagination." (New York Times Book Review)
Part One | THE HAZMAT KILLER
THE TWO HOMELESS men were sitting on the cobblestones in front of the World War I memorial on Fifth Avenue and 67th Street. As soon as they saw me heading toward them, they stood up.
“Zach Jordan, NYPD Red,” I said.
“We got a dead woman on the merry-go-round,” one said.
“Carousel,” the second one corrected.
His hair was matted, his unshaven face was streaked with dirt, and his ragtag clothes smelled of day-old piss. I got a strong whiff and jerked my head away.
“Am I that bad?” he said, backing off. “I don’t even smell it anymore. I’m Detective Bell. This is my partner, Detective Casey. We’ve been working Anti-Crime out of the park. A gang of kids has been beating the shit out of homeless guys just for sport, and we’re on decoy duty. Sorry about the stink, but we’ve got to smell as bad as we look.”
“Mission accomplished,” I said. “Give me a description of the victim.”
“White, middle-aged, and based on the fact that she’s dressed head to toe in one of those Tyvek jumpsuits, it looks like she’s the next victim of the Hazmat Killer.”
Not what I wanted to hear. “ID?”
“We can’t get at her. The carousel is locked up tight. She’s inside. We would never have found her except we heard the music, and we couldn’t figure out why it was playing at six thirty in the morning.”
“Lead the way,” I said.
The carousel is in the heart of Central Park, only a few tenths of a mile off Fifth, and unless a Parkie showed up in a golf cart, walking was the fastest way to get there.
“Grass is pretty wet,” Bell said, stating the obvious. “I thought NYPD Red only got called in for celebrities and muckety-mucks.”
“One of those muckety-mucks went missing Friday night, and my partner and I have been looking for her. As soon as you called in an apparent homicide, I got tapped. We work out of the One Nine, so I got here in minutes. But if this isn’t our MIA, I’m out of here, and another team will catch it.”
“Casey and I volunteer,” Bell said. “We clean up well, and if you really twist our arms, we’d even transfer to Red. Is it as cool as they say?”
Is it cool? Is playing shortstop for the New York Yankees cool? For a cop, NYPD Red is a dream job.
There are eight million people in New York City. The department’s mission is to protect and serve every one of them. But a few get more protection and better service than others. It may not sound like democracy in action, but running a city is like running a business—you cater to your best customers. In our case, that means the ones who generate revenue and attract tourists. In a nutshell, the rich and famous. If any of them are the victims of a crime, they get our full attention. And trust me, these people are used to getting plenty of attention. They’re rock stars in the worlds of finance, fashion, and publishing, and in some cases, they’re actually rock stars in the world of rock.
I answered Bell’s question. “Except for the part where I ruin a good pair of shoes tromping through the wet grass, I’d have to say it’s pretty damn cool.”
“Where’s your partner?” Bell asked.
I had no idea. “On her way,” I lied.
We were crossing Center Drive when I heard the off-pitch whistle of a calliope.
“It’s even more annoying when you get closer,” Bell said.
The closest we could get was twenty feet away. We were stopped by a twelve-foot-high accordion-fold brass gate. Behind it was a vintage carousel that attracted hundreds of thousands of parents and kids to the park every year.
It was hours before the gate would officially open, but the ride was spinning, the horses were going up and down, and the circus music was blaring.
“You can’t get in,” Casey said. “It’s locked.”
“How’d she get in?” I asked.
“Whoever put her there broke the lock,” he said. “Then they replaced it with this Kryptonite bicycle U-Lock. It’s a bitch to open.”
“They obviously didn’t want anybody to wander in and mess with their little tableau,” I said.
“We kind of figured that,” he said. “Anyway, ESU is sending somebody to cut it.”
“Not until the crime scene guys dust it for prints,” I said. “I doubt if we’ll find anything, but I don’t want it contaminated by some cowboy with an angle grinder.”
“Detective Jordan...” It was Bell. “You can get a good look at the body from here.”
I walked to where he was standing and peered through an opening in the gate.
“Here she comes,” Bell said, as though I might actually miss a dead woman in a white Tyvek jumpsuit strapped to a red, blue, green, and yellow horse.
“Damn,” I said as she rode past us.
“Is that your missing muckety-muck?” Bell asked.
“Yeah. Her name is Evelyn Parker-Steele.”
Both cops gave me a never-heard-of-her look.
“Her father is Leonard Parker,” I said. “He owns about a thousand movie theaters across the country. Her brother is Damon Parker—”
“The TV news guy?” Casey said.
“The bio I have on him says he’s a world-renowned broadcasting journalist,” I said, “but sure—I can go with TV news guy. And her husband is Jason Steele the Third, as in Steele Hotels and Casinos.”
“Holy shit,” Casey said to Bell. “We stumbled onto the First Lady of rich chicks.”
“She’s a lot more than that. She’s a high-paid political operative who is currently the campaign manager for Muriel Sykes, the woman who is running for mayor against our beloved Mayor Spellman.”
“Rich, famous, connected,” Bell said. “Six ways to Sunday, this is a case for Red. I guess we better get out of here before we blow our cover. Good luck, Detective.”
“Hang on,” I said. “My partner is running late, and I could use your help feeling out the crowd.”
Casey instinctively looked over his shoulder at the deserted park.
“They’re not here yet,” I said, “but they’ll come. The media, the gawkers, people in a hurry to get to work but who can always make time to stop and stare at a train wreck, and, if we’re lucky, the killer. Sometimes they like to come back to see how we’re reacting to their handiwork. You mind helping me out?”
The two cops looked at each other and grinned like a couple of kids who just found out school was closed for a snow day.
“Do we mind helping Red on a major homicide?” Bell said. “Are you serious? What do you want us to do?”
“Throw on some clean clothes, get rid of the smell, then hang out and keep your eyes and ears open.”
“We’ll be cleaned up in ten,” Bell said, and they took off.
The calliope music was driving me crazy, and I walked far enough away from the carousel so I could hear myself think. Then I dialed my partner, Kylie MacDonald. For the third time that morning, it went straight to voice mail.
“Damn it, Kylie,” I said. “It’s six forty-seven Monday morning. I’m seventeen minutes into a really bad week, and if I haven’t told you lately, there’s nobody I’d rather have a bad week with than you.”
Copyright © 2014 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.