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
GRACIE MANSION WAS two centuries old, but it wasn’t until World War II that it became home to anyone crazy enough to want to be mayor of New York. The current occupant, Stan Spellman, desperately wanted to renew his lease for another four years, but if you believed the pollsters, he was eight days away from being replaced by Muriel Sykes.
As mansions go, it’s pretty low-key. No commanding porticos or marble columns—just a simple two-story, yellow-and-white Federal house with five bedrooms and a better than average view of the East River.
Kylie was at the top of the steps, fuming. “What is this—No Personal Boundaries Day?” she said. “Why is everybody invading my private space?”
“Everybody?” I said, trying not to shout on the mayor’s front porch. “That sleazebag would love to invade your private space. That’s why he’s asking ‘how’s your husband.’ All I want to know is why you fell off the grid this morning. How the hell can you lump me and him in the same category?”
“Because you’re asking different questions, but they have the same goddamn answer. Spence fell in the shower this morning. Hit his head. I took him to the ER. He’s okay now, but he’s upset that he’s still wobbly on his feet three months after the Chameleon incident. That’s why I was late. You happy now?”
I felt like a jerk. “I’m sorry,” I said—my second apology in less than twenty minutes. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I thought our main priority was to find a killer. Now, can we get on with it?”
She pushed open the front door, and we entered the foyer. I get my furniture from IKEA. The mayor gets his from the nineteenth century. But I’d been here before and picked up a few factoids. I pointed at the floor, a vast expanse of black and white diamond shapes that led to a winding staircase thirty feet away.
“Faux marble,” I said, trying to soften the edge. “It’s painted wood.”
“I know, Zach. I’ve been here.”
Draped on Spence’s arm was left unsaid.
It was our boss, and all I needed was that one-word clue to know her mood. She stormed down the stairs.
Captain Delia Cates is one of the rising stars in the department, black on the outside, true blue on the inside—a third-generation cop. While she can barely tolerate the politics that comes with her job, she plays them well. And when a woman finally crashes through the Y-chromosome ceiling at NYPD, the smart money is on her. Her reputation is “Always tough, sometimes fair,” and I braced myself for a serious dose of verbal bitch slapping.
“You’re late,” she said, “and the mayor is six degrees beyond batshit.”
“Sorry,” I said. “We were working under the theory that homicides take precedence over political hissy fits.”
“You think I like pulling my lead investigators off a major crime scene? This is not your run-of-the-mill hissy fit. It’s as big a political clusterfuck as I’ve ever been in the middle of. What’s the story on our VIV?”
VIV is Red jargon for “very important victim.” I filled Cates in on the little I knew so far, ending with, “And Chuck Dryden is convinced that she’s the latest victim of the Hazmat Killer.”
“He’s probably right,” Cates said. “Someone just uploaded an online video of Parker-Steele confessing to the murder of Cynthia Pritchard. That’s the Hazmat’s MO—kidnap, kill, then go viral to let everyone know that the innocent victim isn’t so innocent.”
“Who’s Cynthia Pritchard?” I said.
“An event coordinator who worked with Parker-Steele two years ago on the campaign to reelect Congressman Winchell. A month before the election, Pritchard fell fourteen stories from the terrace of Evelyn’s apartment.”
“Fell?” I said.
“That’s what she told the DA. She changes her tune on the video.”
“I never even heard about this case,” I said.
“You didn’t hear about it because Leonard Parker has enough lawyers to squelch the sinking of the Queen Mary,” Cates said. “The autopsy showed that Pritchard was drunk. Parker-Steele was wasted herself, passed out on the floor when the cops arrived. The coroner’s conclusion was that Pritchard leaned too far over the terrace railing and fell. He ruled it an accident.”
“Medical examiners make mistakes all the time,” I said. “Didn’t the department ask for a follow-up investigation?”
“Yes, but the lawyers cut it off at the knees. They said the two women were co-workers, got along well, and there was no motive. They also stated loud and clear that if an unwarranted departmental witch hunt—their words—was leaked to the press and in any way damaged the reputation of Evelyn or any member of one of the city’s most prominent families, there’d be repercussions.”
“Financial repercussions,” I said.
“Right. They’d sue the city’s ass, and they’d probably win. So—no investigation, no press, case closed,” Cates said. “Money buys anonymity, Zach, and a lot of money buys total silence.”
“Only now some vigilante comes out of the woodwork and gets Parker-Steele to confess to murder,” Kylie said.
“Yes, and Muriel Sykes is already firing off tweets that say it’s a crock of crap. If you torture somebody long enough, they’ll tell you Jimmy Hoffa is buried in their basement. She’s screaming that Parker-Steele is not a killer, she’s a victim. And this city needs a mayor who can lock criminals up, not have them run loose so they can pin murders on innocent citizens.”
She turned and headed toward the carpeted staircase, talking as she went. We followed. “The mayor has been plunging in the polls, and with a serial killer on the loose and an opponent who’s bashing him for being soft on crime, unless we catch this Hazmat Killer, his reelection campaign is going to plunge right into the toilet.”
We were at the top of the stairs, and Kylie stopped. “Captain,” she said, “can I be brutally honest with you?”
Cates turned around. “With me, yes, but not with the mayor. Speak.”
“If you told us the Loch Ness monster was seen in the subway system, Zach and I would walk the tracks from the Bronx to Far Rockaway till we found it. I don’t know how long it would take, but we’d get it done. Now we’re chasing down a painstakingly smart serial killer who has eluded the cops for four months, and the mayor wants us to solve it in a week?”
“You got it, MacDonald,” Cates said.
“We’re cops. Our job is to nail this bastard before he kills someone else, not to save the mayor’s sorry political ass.”
Cates laughed. “You sound like me back in the day when I didn’t have to worry about being politically correct. But the mayor asked for you two by name. You want the job?”
“Totally. And we’re flattered that he sent for us,” Kylie said. “But he might want to hedge his bet and send for a moving van.”
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.