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Private Berlin

Private, the world's most respected investigation firm, has branches around the world, each staffed with the smartest, fastest, and most advanced agents, who have cutting-edge forensic tools that not even the most powerful governments possess.

At Private Berlin, agent Chris Schneider has disappeared. Chris had taken a secretive personal leave and hadn't spoken to anyone from the office in days. The Private team retraces his footsteps to the cases he was investigating before his disappearance: a billionaire suspected of cheating on his wife, a world-famous soccer player accused of throwing games, and the owner of a seedy nightclub. They were the last people to see Chris—and they're all suspects. And someone is lying.

The Private team is led to an abandoned Nazi slaughterhouse where all hope vanishes. As Private digs further into Chris's past, a terrifying history is revealed, and they begin to suspect that someone very dangerous and very depraved is responsible for Chris's disappearance. And he's not finished in Berlin. PRIVATE BERLIN has more twists, action, and deception than any other James Patterson thriller ever.

Book One | THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE

Chapter 2

KATHARINA GAVE HER laptop several commands. Morgan’s face shrunk and shifted left on the big screen. A photograph of a soccer player performing a dramatic scissors kick appeared beside him.

“This is Cassiano, the top striker for the Hertha Berlin Sports Club, and the top goal scorer in the German second league,” Katharina said. “Manchester United hired us to look into him because they are thinking of acquiring him.”

Even though Cassiano had proven himself a prolific scorer, the British team was concerned about the Brazilian’s erratic play in a handful of games. They’d wanted him vetted before offering him a contract.

Katharina said, “But as of two Fridays ago, Chris told me he had just a few loose ends to look into, but he was leaning heavily toward clearing Cassiano.”

“And Chris’s other case?” Morgan asked.

Katharina typed on her laptop again. A video clip played showing a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and dark sunglasses that shielded much of his face. He exited a black Porsche Cayenne and walked away from the camera. A beautiful, elegant woman climbed out the other side and followed him.

“That’s Hermann Krüger,” Katharina informed them. “Billionaire. Early fifties. Big art and car collector. Very secretive. Doesn’t like his name in the media. Grew up in the GDR, but took to capitalism quickly after the wall came down. He built a fortune in real estate here in Berlin and big public works projects in Africa.”

Mattie said, “Didn’t we do some work for his company?”

“Two years ago,” Dr. Gabriel confirmed as he reworked the band that held his ponytail. “A comprehensive review of their security system. But we didn’t deal directly with Krüger himself.”

“But Chris was dealing with him?”

“No,” Katharina said. “Krüger’s wife, Agnes, is the client. She believed he was seeing other women and asked us to look into it. As of the last update I got, Chris had located at least three mistresses. He’d also discovered that Krüger visited prostitutes, lots of them, sometimes twice a day.”

Burkhart snorted. “Twice a day? An older guy like that must be taking testosterone supplements to be able to get it up that often. And Viagra.”

Mattie cringed. She’d had limited interaction with Burkhart since he’d joined Private. But overall she’d found him to be headstrong, crude, and abrasive, perhaps good traits for a counterterrorism expert and bodyguard but not, in Mattie’s opinion, for the kind of delicate investigative work Private Berlin often performed.

“Chris didn’t mention testosterone or Viagra,” Katharina sniffed. “But I know he had an appointment set for tomorrow to update Frau Krüger.”

“How much would Hermann Krüger stand to lose if his philandering went public in a nasty divorce case?” Morgan asked.

“A billion,” Gabriel replied. “Maybe two.”

Private’s owner thought about that. “Why did Chris take time off?”

“I don’t know,” Katharina said. “He texted me last Monday that he needed a few days’ personal time and that he would call me on Thursday at the latest. He’s such a hardworking guy, I gave him the time without questioning it.”

“Of course,” Morgan said. “That’s it. No other cases?”

“Not that I—”

“Not true,” Gabriel interrupted. “He was working on something else, Jack.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Ari Fliakos & January LaVoy

Ari Fliakos has performed with the award-winning theater ensemble The Wooster Group since 1996. His film credits include Company K and Pills. Ari has appeared on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Third Watch, The Unusuals, and Unforgettable.

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theaters across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

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