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Unlucky 13

The Women's Murder Club is stalked by a killer with nothing to lose.

San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. With an attentive husband, a job she loves, plus best friends who can talk about anything from sex to murder, things couldn't be better.

Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women's Murder Club has ever encountered.

In this pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel by James Patterson, the Women's Murder Club must find a killer—before she finds them first.


Chapter 1

A WEEK AFTER belly bombs exploded inside two graduate students in a red Jeep, and because nonmetal bombs were of major concern to federal law enforcement, the Feds were working the terrorist implications. And they’d pretty much shut the SFPD out of the case.

While the FBI huddled and labored at our local FBI offices, the tide of worldwide headlines about a mysterious one-car crash that tied up the Golden Gate Bridge for an afternoon receded and were replaced by breaking news of a movie star’s divorce, political shenanigans, and a significant freeway pile-up in south LA.

Meanwhile, the SFPD was treating the belly bombs as an unsolved crime, very likely a double homicide, and by SFPD, I mean Claire, Clapper, Conklin, and me.

It was just after 6:00 p.m. on a Monday night, and Conklin and I were at our desks in the Hall of Justice, home to the criminal courts, the DA’s Office, and the Southern Station of the SFPD. Homicide is on the fourth floor.

My partner and I work at facing desks in the bullpen, a windowless, twenty-by-twenty-foot square of fluorescent-lit gray linoleum floors and dingy walls of unknown color. There are twelve desks in this room. At the moment, we had the room to ourselves and were reviewing the sparse facts of our belly bomb case.

Over the past couple of days, we’d interviewed the victims’ families. Lara Trimble’s grief-stricken loved ones swore that Lara had no enemies and that she was a music student, not a political activist.

David Katz, the young man who had driven the Jeep, had been doing postgrad work in psychology. Besides being shattered, his parents were completely dumbfounded by their son’s unexplained and tragic death. They hadn’t even the slimmest guess as to why David and Lara had been killed.

Our week of thorough investigation into Trimble and Katz’s backgrounds and associates bore out the opinion of their family circle. These kids were not radical anything. They were victims.

Claire was still working with Clapper on what could have been the explosive element and its delivery system, but for now, all we had was comprehensive documentation of the demolished car and a Whitman’s Sampler of trace evidence courtesy of the FBI.

Essentially we had zip, zero, nothing to go on that hadn’t been evident when we stood on the bridge a week ago.

I looked at the scene photos for the hundredth time, scrutinizing them for something, anything, I may have missed. But when the night shift began filtering into our humble squad room, I was ready to close the book on the day.

I got my gear together and waved hello to cop friends and goodnight to Richie, leaving him on the phone cooing to Tina. My seven-year old Explorer was waiting for me in the lot on Harriet Street, and when I turned the key, she started right up.

Twenty minutes later, I came through the front door of the roomy apartment I share with my husband, Joe, our six-month-old baby girl, Julie, and Martha, my border collie sidekick and Julie’s best doggy friend.

I called out, “Sergeant Mommy is home,” but there was no clicking of doggy toenails on hardwood, no “Hey, sweetie.”

It was way too quiet. Where was everyone?

I had my hand on the butt of my nine as I went from room to room and back around to the foyer, the little hairs on the back of my neck standing up as I checked reference points: keys missing from the console, baby bottle in the sink, Joe’s slippers by his chair, empty crib —when the front door swung open.

Martha shot through the opening and jumped up on me. My gorgeous and wonderful husband was right behind her, wheeling our child’s stroller into the foyer.

“Hey, Julie,” Joe said, “Look who’s home.”

I threw my arms around his neck, gave him a kiss, picked up my darling girl, and danced her around. I have to say, Julie is the most gorgeous baby on the planet —and I’m not just saying that because she’s ours. She’s got her daddy’s dark hair and both of our blue eyes, and actually, I can’t take her out without people rushing over to her and saying, “Oh, you’re so cute. Do you want to come home with me?”

And Julie will smile and put her arms out for them to take her! It’s kind of a riot —and it kind of scares me, too. I can’t turn my back on Julie for an instant, because she might go with anyone.

“We played a little softball in the park,” Joe told me.

“Oh, right. Good idea.”

“She said she’s going to sleep through the night.”

“Ha-ha. I want that in writing.”

“Why don’t you take off your piece and your shoes and stay awhile,” said my husband, clicking on the evening news. “Soup’s on in ten minutes.”

Love, love, love coming home. Just love it.

Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

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