Alex Cross (Also published as Cross)

Alex Cross (Also published as Cross)

BY James Patterson

Among the villains Alex Cross has faced—Gary Soneji, Casanova, Kyle Craig, The Wolf—one psychopath tops them all. Alex knows him as his wife's killer.

#1 bestselling author James Patterson returns with the pinnacle of all Alex Cross thrillers.

Alex Cross was a rising star in the Washington, DC, Police Department when an unknown shooter gunned down his wife, Maria, in front of him. Alex's need for vengeance was placed on hold as he faced another huge challenge-raising his children without their mother.

Years later Alex is making a bold move in his life. He has left the FBI and set up practice as a psychologist once again. His life with Nana Mama, Damon, Jannie, and little Alex finally feels like it's in order. He even has a chance at a new love.

Then Cross's former partner, John Sampson, calls in a favor. He is tracking a serial rapist in Georgetown, one whose brutal modus operandi includes threatening his victims with terrifying photos. Cross and Sampson need the testimonies of these women to stop the predator, but the rape victims refuse to reveal anything about their attacker.

When the case triggers a connection to Maria's death, Alex may have a chance to catch his wife's murderer after all these years. Is this a chance for justice at long last? Or the culminating scene in his own deadly obsession?

From the man USA Today has called the "master of the genre," Cross is the high-velocity thriller James Patterson and Alex Cross's fans have waited years to read.

Chapter 3

THE BUFFED-UP MOB SOLDIER didn’t react, but an older man in a black suit and white shirt buttoned to the collar raised his hand like the pope or something and spoke slowly and deliberately in heavily accented English. “To what do we owe this honor?” he asked. “Of course we’ve heard of the Butcher. Why are you here in Baltimore? What can we do for you?”

“We’re just passing through,” Michael Sullivan said to the old man. “Have to do a little job for Mr. Maggione in DC. You gentlemen heard of Mr. Maggione?”

Heads nodded around the room. The tenor of the conversation so far suggested that this was definitely serious business. Dominic Maggione controlled the Family in New York, which ran most of the East Coast, down as far as Atlanta anyway.

Everybody in the room knew who Dominic Maggione was and that the Butcher was his most ruthless hit man. Supposedly, he used butcher knives, scalpels, and mallets on his victims. A reporter in Newsday had said of one of his murders, “No human being could have done this.” The Butcher was feared in mob circles and by the police. So it was a surprise to those in the room that the killer was so young and that he looked like a movie actor, with his long blond hair and striking blue eyes.

“So where’s the respect? I hear that word a lot, but I don’t see any in this club,” said Jimmy Hats, who, like the Butcher, had a reputation for amputating hands and feet.

The soldier who had stood up suddenly made his move, and the Butcher’s arm shot forward in a blur. He sliced off the tip of the man’s nose, then the lobe of an ear. The soldier grabbed at his face in two places and stepped back so fast he lost his balance and fell hard on the wood-plank floor.

The Butcher was fast, and obviously as good as promised with a knife. He was like the old-time assassins from Sicily, and that’s how he had learned knife play, from one of the old soldiers in South Brooklyn. Amputation and bone-crunching had come easily to him. He considered them his trademark, symbols of his ruthlessness.

Jimmy Hats had a gun out, a .45 caliber semiautomatic. Hats was also known as “Jimmy the Protector,” and he had the Butcher’s back. Always.

Now Michael Sullivan slowly walked around the room. He kicked over a couple of card tables, shut off the TV, and pulled the plug on the espresso machine. Everyone suspected that somebody was going to die. But why? Why had Dominic Maggione unleashed this madman on them?

“I see some of you are expecting a little show,” he said. “I see it in your eyes. I smell it. Well, hell, I don’t want to disappoint anybody.”

Suddenly, Sullivan went down on one knee and stabbed the wounded mob soldier where he lay on the floor. He stabbed the man in the throat, then in the face and chest until there was no movement in the body. It was hard to count the strokes, but it must have been a dozen, probably more.

Then the strangest thing of all. Sullivan stood up and took a bow over the dead man’s body. As if this was all a big show to him, all just an act.

Finally, the Butcher turned his back on the room and walked unconcerned toward the door. No fear of anything or anyone. He called over his shoulder, “Nice meetin’ you, gentlemen. Next time, show some respect. For Mr. Maggione—if not for myself and Mr. Jimmy Hats.”

Jimmy Hats grinned at the room and tipped his fedora. “Yeah, he’s that good,” he said. “Tell you what, he’s even better with a chain saw.”

Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson

Read by Peter Jay Fernandez & Jay O. Sanders

Peter Jay Fernandez is a New York based actor and narrator. He has appeared on Broadway in Jelly's Last Jam and The Merchant of Venice, and has performed in numerous off-Broadway plays and musicals. His extensive television credits include Funny Valentines, The Prosecuters, Law & Order, and Cosby. He currently lives in Harlem with his wife Denise and read London Bridges, also by James Patterson, for Hachette Audio.

Jay O. Sanders attended the acting conservatory at The State University of New York at Purchase. He began his career off-Broadway in Shakespearean roles in Henry V, Measure for Measure, and Twelfth Night. Jay has narrated more than fifty audiobooks and has appeared in several films including Half Nelson and The Day After Tomorrow.

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