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Run For Your Life

Move over Alex Cross–Manhattan is Detective Michael Bennett's territory and only he can stop the Teacher's lethal lessons.

A spree killer passes brutal judgment.
A calculating murderer who calls himself the Teacher is taking on New York City, slaughtering the powerful and the arrogant. Everyone is his potential student–from the loudmouthed girl on her cell phone to the city's snooty upper crust. His message to them is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York's elite, it is a call to terror.

No chance for redemption.
There is only one man in the NYPD who can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Michael Bennett. For anyone else, the pressure would be overwhelming, but Mike is ready to step up–taking care of his ten children has prepared him for the job! As the media frenzy escalates, all of Mike's children fall victim to a virulent flu bug–almost as challenging an assignment for Bennett as tracking down the killer!

One man struggles to save a city.
A secret pattern emerges in the Teacher's lessons, leaving Detective Bennett just a few precious hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history. Run for Your Life is the most speed-charged, adrenaline-packed novel ever from "the man who can't miss" (Time magazine).

Prologue | FIGHT THE POWER
One

GETTING STUCK ON a bus in New York City, even under normal circumstances, is a lesson in frustration.

But when the bus belongs to the NYPD Tactical Assistance Response Unit, and it’s parked at a barricade that’s swarming with cops, and you’re there because you’re the only person in the world who might have a chance at keeping several hostages from being killed, you can cancel your dinner plans.

I wasn’t going anywhere on that Monday night. Much worse, I wasn’t getting anywhere.

“Where’s my money, Bennett?” an angry voice shouted through my headset.

I’d gotten to know that voice really well over the past seven and a half hours. It came from a nineteen-year-old gang hit man known as D-Ray—his real name was Kenneth Robinson—who was the main suspect in a triple drug murder. In truth, he was the only suspect. When police had come after him earlier today, he’d holed up in a Harlem brownstone, now behind police barricades, threatening to kill five members of his own family.

“The money’s coming, D-Ray,” I said, speaking gently into the headset. “Like I told you, I got Wells Fargo to send an armored truck up from Brooklyn. A hundred thousand dollars in unmarked twenties, sitting on the front seat.”

“You keep saying that, but I don’t see no truck!”

“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” I lied. “They run on bank schedules. You can’t just call them like a taxi. They don’t carry that kind of cash around, either—they’ve got to go through a complicated procedure to get it. And drive through traffic, just like everybody else.”

Hostage situations call for measured calm, something I’m actually pretty good at faking. If it weren’t for the dozen uniformed Emergency Service Unit and Manhattan North Task Force cops listening in, you might have thought I was a priest hearing a confession.

In fact, the Wells Fargo truck had arrived a good two hours ago and was parked out of sight nearby. I was fighting with everything I had to keep it there. If it drove these last few blocks, that meant I’d failed.

“You playin’ me?” D-Ray barked. “Nobody plays me, cop. You think I don’t know I’m already lookin’ at life in prison? What I got to lose if I kill somebody else?”

“I know you’re not playing, D-Ray,” I said. “I’m not, either—that’s the last thing I want to do. The money’s on its way. Meantime, you need anything else? More pizza, soda pop, anything like that? Hey, it must be hot in there—how about some ice cream for your niece and nephew?”

Ice cream?” he yelled with a fury that made me wince. “You better get your shit together, Bennett! I don’t see no armored truck in five minutes, you gonna see a body come rolling down that stoop.”

The line went dead. Wiping sweat from my face, I pulled off the headset and stepped to the window of the NYPD bus. It was parked with a clear view of D-Ray’s brownstone, on 131st Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard. I raised my binoculars and panned the kitchen window. I swallowed as I spotted an Eracism magnet holding up children’s drawings and a picture of Maya Angelou on the fridge. His niece and nephew were six and eight years old. I had kids those same ages.

At first, I’d hoped that the situation would be easier because his hostages were his own flesh and blood. A lot of criminals might make this kind of desperate bluff, but they’d back down before they’d harm someone close to them, especially little kids. D-Ray’s eighty-three-year-old grandmother, Miss Carol, was also in there with them, and she was a neighborhood institution, a powerful and respected woman who ran the rec center and the community garden. If anybody could make him listen, it was Miss Carol.

But she hadn’t, which was a very bad sign. D-Ray had already proved that he was a killer, and during the hours I’d spent talking to him, I’d sensed his rage rising and his control slipping. I was sure that all along he’d been getting higher on crack or meth or whatever, and by now he was half insane. He was clinging to a fantasy of escape, and he was ready to kill for it.

I had helped him build that fantasy, and I’d used every trick I knew to keep it going so we could get those people out of there alive—tried to create a bond, talked like a sympathetic friend, even told him my name. But I was out of both tricks and time.

I lowered the binoculars and scanned the scene outside the bus windows. Behind the sawhorses and the flashing lights of the gathered police vehicles, there were several news vans and maybe sixty or seventy spectators. Some were eating Chinese takeout or holding up cell phone cameras. There were school-age kids zipping around on Razor scooters. The crowd seemed anxious, impatient, like picnickers disappointed that the fireworks hadn’t started yet.

I turned away from them just as Joe Hunt, the Manhattan North borough commander, sagged back in the office chair beside me and let out a long, deflated breath.

“Just heard from ESU,” he said. “Snipers think they got a pretty good bead on him through one of the back windows.”

I didn’t say anything, but Joe knew what I was thinking. He stared at me with his almost sad, world-weary brown eyes.

“Kid or not, we’re dealing with a violent sociopath,” he went on. “We need to give this to Tactical while those poor people inside still have a chance. I’m calling in the Wells Fargo truck. I want you to get D-Ray back on the phone and tell him to watch for it. Then Con Ed’s going to cut the power, and the snipers will drop him with night vision.” Joe heaved himself to his feet and gave me a rough pat on the shoulder. “Sorry, Mike. You did better than anyone has any right to expect, but the kid flat-out refuses to live.”

I passed my hands through my hair and scrubbed my own tired eyes. New York City has one of the best reputations in the world for resolving hostage situations nonviolently, and I hated like hell to be a part of changing that fine tradition. But I couldn’t argue with Hunt’s logic. D-Ray definitely wasn’t even trying to help me save him.

I nodded, defeated. We had to think about his family now. There was no other way.

I listened to Joe Hunt call the armored truck and order it to start moving toward us. As soon as it came into sight, I’d be talking to D-Ray for the last time.

We stepped out of the bus for a breath of fresh air while we waited.

Read by Bobby Cannavale–He made his Broadway debut in Mauritius and was nominated for a Tony Award for his perfonrmance. On television, Bobby won an Emmy for his performance in Will & Grace. Bobby's film credits include The Station Agent, Fast Food Nation, Snakes on a Plane, Shall We Dance, Romance and Cigarettes, The Bone Collector, and Washington Heights. Bobby will next be seen in the feature comedy, Mall Cop and next year will star in his own series for ABC, in which he plays the title character Cupid.

Dallas Roberts–He stars in the upcoming films The Factory and Shrink. His films include 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line, Joshua, Flicka, The Notorious Bettie Page, and A Home at the End of the World. Television appearances include The L Word, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order. Dallas is a graduate of the Juillard School and recently starred off-Broadway in the hit production of Edward Albee's Peter and Jerry.

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