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Private Games

Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

The opening ceremony is still hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It's clear that it wasn't a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won't stop until he's ended the games for good. "America's #1 storyteller" (Forbes) delivers an exhilarating, action-packed thriller that brings the splendor and emotion of the Olympics to a wildly powerful climax.

Book One | THE FURIES

Chapter 1

THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012, 9:24 A.M.

IT WAS MAD-DOG hot for London. Peter Knight's shirt and jacket were drenched with sweat as he sprinted north on Chesham Street past the Diplomat Hotel and skidded around the corner toward Lyall Mews in the heart of Belgravia, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Don't let it be true, Knight screamed internally as he entered the mews. Dear God, don't let it be true.

Then he saw a pack of newspaper reporters gathering at the yellow tape of a London Metropolitan Police barricade that blocked the road in front of a cream-colored Georgian-style townhome. Knight lurched to a stop, feeling like he was going to retch up the eggs and bacon he'd had for breakfast.

What would he ever tell Amanda?

Before Knight could compose his thoughts or still his stomach, his cell phone rang. He snatched it from his pocket without looking at caller ID.

"Knight," he managed to choke out. "That you, Jack?"

"No, Peter, it's Nancy," the voice replied in an Irish brogue. "Isabel has come down sick."

"What?" he groaned. "No...I just left the house an hour ago."

"She's running a temperature," the full-time nanny insisted. "I just took it."

"How high?"

"One hundred. She's complaining about her stomach, too."

"Lukey?"

"He seems fine," she said. "But—"

"Give them both a cool bath, and call me back if Isabel's temp hits a hundred and one," Knight said. He snapped the phone shut, swallowed the bile burning at the back of his throat.

A wiry man about six feet tall, with an appealing face and light brown hair, Knight had once been a special investigator assigned to the Old Bailey, home of England's Central Criminal Court. Two years ago, however, he joined the London office of Private International at twice the pay and prestige. Private has been called the Pinkerton Agency of the twenty-first century, with offices in every major city in the world staffed by top-notch forensic scientists, security specialists, and investigators such as Knight.

Compartmentalize, he told himself. Be professional. But this felt like the straw that would break the camel's back. Knight had already endured too much grief and loss, both personally and professionally. Just the week before, his boss, Dan Carter, and three of his colleagues had perished in a plane crash over the North Sea that was still under investigation. Could he live with another death?

Pushing that question and his daughter's illness to one side, Knight forced himself to hurry on through the sweltering heat toward the police barrier, giving the Fleet Street crowd a wide berth, and in so doing spotted Billy Casper, a Scotland Yard inspector he'd known for fifteen years.

He went straight to Casper, a blockish man with a pockmarked face who scowled the second he saw Knight. "Private's got no business in this, Peter."

"If that's Sir Denton Marshall dead in there, then Private does have business in this, and I do, too," Knight shot back forcefully. "Personal business, Billy. Is it Sir Denton?"

Casper said nothing.

"Is it?" Knight demanded.

Finally the inspector nodded, but he wasn't happy about it, and asked suspiciously, "How are you and Private involved?"

Knight stood there a moment, feeling lambasted by the news and wondering again how the hell he was going to tell Amanda. Then he shook off the despair and said, "The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games is Private London's client. Which makes Sir Denton Private's client."

"And you?" Casper demanded. "What's your personal stake in this? You a friend of his or something?"

"Much more than a friend. He was engaged to my mother."

Casper's hard expression softened a bit and he chewed at his lip before saying, "I'll see if I can get you in. Elaine will want to talk to you."

Knight felt suddenly as if invisible forces were conspiring against him.

"Elaine caught this case?" he said, wanting to punch something. "You can't be serious."

"Dead serious, Peter," Casper said. "Lucky, lucky you."

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Paul Panting

Paul Panting has narrated numerous audio books and has been featured in many BBC Radio Drama plays and readings. His television credits include Silent Witness, The Jury II, and Inspector Lewis.

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