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Roses Are Red

From James Patterson, the #1 bestselling author of Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, comes a dazzlingly frightening new thriller: Roses Are Red.

In this heart-pounding but touchingly romantic new thriller, Detective Alex Cross pursues the most complex and brilliant killer he's ever confronted — mysterious criminal who calls himself the Mastermind.

In a series of crimes that has stunned Washington, D.C., bank robbers have been laying out precise demands when they enter the building — and then killing the bank employees and their families if those instructions are not followed to the letter.

Detective Alex Cross takes on the case, certain that this is no ordinary bank robber at work — the pathological need for control and perfection is too great. Cross is in the midst of a personal crisis at home, but the case becomes all-consuming as he learns that the Mastermind is plotting one huge, last, perfect crime.

With twists and reversals that only the mind of James Patterson could create, Roses Are Red is by far the most explosive, surprising, and fast-paced novel of James Patterson's extraordinary career.

Chapter 1

BRIANNE PARKER didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer – her pleasantly plump baby face fooled everyone. But she knew that she was ready to kill if she had to this morning. She would find out for sure at ten minutes past eight.

The twenty-four-year-old woman wore khakis, a powder blue University of Maryland windbreaker, and scuffed white Nike sneakers. None of the early-morning commuters noticed her as she walked from her dented white Acura to a thick stand of evergreen trees, where she hid.

She was outside the Citibank in Silver Spring, Maryland, just before eight. The branch was scheduled to open in ninety seconds. She knew from her talks with the Mastermind that it was a freestanding bank with two drive-through lanes. It was surrounded by what he called big-box stores: Target, PETsMART, Home Depot, Circuit City.

At eight o’clock on the dot, Brianne approached the bank from her hiding place in the evergreens under a colorful billboard obnoxiously offering McDonald’s breakfast to the public. From that angle she couldn’t be seen by the female teller who was just opening the glass front door and had momentarily stepped outside.

A few strides from the teller, she slipped on a rubbery President Clinton mask, one of the most popular masks in America and probably the one hardest to trace. She knew the bank teller’s name, and she spoke it clearly as she pulled out her gun and pressed it against the small of the woman’s back.

"Inside, Ms. Jeanne Galetta. Then turn around and lock the front door again. We’re going to see your boss, Mrs. Buccieri."

Her short speech at the entrance to the bank was scripted, word for word, even the pauses. The Mastermind said it was crucial that a bank robbery proceed in a specific order, almost by rote.

"I don’t want to kill you, Jeanne. But I will if you don’t do everything I say, when I say it. It’s your turn to talk now, darling. Do you understand what I’ve just told you so far?"

Jeanne Galetta nodded her head of short brown hair so vigorously that her wire-rimmed glasses nearly fell off. "Yes, I do. Please don’t hurt me," she gasped. She was in her late twenties, attractive in a suburban sort of way, but her blue polyester pantsuit and sensible stack-heeled shoes made her look older.

"The manager’s office. Now, Ms. Jeanne. If I’m not out of here in eight minutes, you will die. I’m serious. If I’m not out of here in eight minutes, you and Mrs. Buccieri die. Don’t think I won’t do it because I’m a woman. I will shoot you both like dogs."

Copyright © 2000 by James Patterson

Read by Jason Culp and Keith David (abridged) & Peter J. Fernandez (unabridged)
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