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Private: #1 Suspect

Unsolvable cases

Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world's most effective investigation firm—sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private's investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world—and they always uncover the truth.

Impossible murders

When his former lover is found murdered in Jack Morgan's bed, he is instantly the number one suspect. While Jack is under police investigation, the mob strong-arms him into recovering $30 million in stolen pharmaceuticals for them. And the beautiful manager of a luxury hotel chain persuades him to quietly investigate a string of murders at her properties.

The #1 suspect is Jack Morgan

While Jack is fighting for his life, one of his most trusted colleagues threatens to leave Private, and Jack realizes he is confronting the cleverest and most powerful enemies ever. With more action, more intrigue, and more twists than ever before, PRIVATE: #1 SUSPECT is James Patterson at his unstoppable best.

Part One | I DIDN'T DO IT

Chapter 2

I'D SEEN COUNTLESS dead while serving in Afghanistan. I've worked murders as part of my job for years, and I've even witnessed the deaths of friends.

None of that protected me from the horror of seeing Colleen's bloody and lifeless form. Her blood spattered the bedspread, soaking through. Her sweater was so bloody I couldn't see her wounds. Had she been stabbed? Shot? I couldn't tell.

The covers were pulled tight and I saw no sign of a struggle. Everything in the room was exactly as I had left it four days ago—everything but Colleen's dead body, right here.

I thought about Colleen's attempted suicide after we'd broken up six months ago—the scars were visible: silver lines on her wrists. But this was no suicide.

There was no weapon on or near the bed.

It looked as if Colleen had come into my bedroom, put her head on the pillow, and then been killed while she slept.

And that made no sense.

Just then, my lagging survival instinct kicked in. Whoever had killed Colleen could still be in the house. I went for the window seat where I kept my gun.

My hands shook as I lifted the hinged top of the window seat and grabbed the metal gun box. It was light. Empty.

I opened the closet doors, looked under the bed, saw no one, no shells, no nothing. I stepped into jeans, pulled on a T-shirt, then walked from window to window to door, checking locks, staring up at skylights looking for broken panes.

And I backtracked through my mind.

I was certain the front door had been locked when I came home. And now I was sure that every other entry point was secure.

That could only mean that someone had entered my house with an electronic gate key and biometric access—someone who knew me. Colleen had been my assistant and my lover for a year before we'd broken up. I hadn't deleted her codes.

Colleen wasn't the only one with access to my house, but maybe I wouldn't have to guess who had killed her.

My house was watched by the best surveillance system ever made. There were cameras posted on all sides, over the doorways, sweeping the highway, and taking in 180 degrees of beachfront beyond my deck.

I opened the cabinet doors on the entertainment unit in the living room and flipped the switch turning on the six video monitors stacked in two columns of three. All six screens lit up—and all six screens were blank. I stabbed the buttons on the remote control again and again before I realized the hard drive was gone. Only a detached cord remained.

I grabbed the phone by the sofa and called Justine's direct line at the office. It was almost seven. Would she still be there?

She answered on the first ring.

"Jack, you hungry after all?"

"Justine. Something bad has happened."

My voice cracked as I forced myself to say it.

"It's Colleen. She's dead. Some bastard killed her."

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Scott Sowers

Scott Sowers' Broadway credits include Bus Stop, A Streetcar Named Desire, Inherit the Wind and A Few Good Men (LA Dramalogue Award for Performance). Scott is a lifetime member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre. His many TV credits include HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, Cracker and All My Children. Scott's film credits include True Grit, The Ten, The Village, Dead Man Walking, Erin Brockovich, Magnolia, and My Mother Dreams...(winner, 2000 Academy Award for Short Feature).

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