Alex Cross travels to Hollywood to hunt for a brutal killer in his most terrifying case yet.
FBI Agent Alex Cross is on vacation with his family in Disneyland when he gets a call from the Director. A well-known actress was shot outside her home in Beverly Hills. Shortly afterward, an editor for the Los Angeles Times receives an e-mail describing the murder in vivid details. Alex quickly learns that this is not an isolated incident. The killer, known as Mary Smith, has done this before and plans to kill again.
Right from the beginning, this case is like nothing Alex has ever been confronted with before. Is this the plan of an obsessed fan or a spurned actor, or is it part of something much more frightening? Now members of Hollywood's A-list fear they're next on Mary's list, and the case grows by blockbuster proportions as the LAPD and FBI scramble to find a pattern before Mary can send one more chilling update.
Filled with the ruthless and shocking twists that make his fans hunger for more, Mary, Mary is James Patterson's most sophisticated thriller yet.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Mary Smith
Arnold Griner squeezed his small, squinty eyes shut, put his hands over his practically hairless skull, and scrubbed his scalp hard. Oh, God save me, not another one, he was thinking. Life is too short for this shit. I can't take it. I really can't take this Mary Smith deal.
The L.A. Times newsroom buzzed around him as if it were any other morning: phones jangling; people coming and going like indoor race walkers; someone nearby pontificating about the new fall TV lineup - as if anybody cared about the TV lineup these days.
How could Griner feel so vulnerable sitting at his own desk, in his cubicle office, in the middle of all this? But he did.
The Xanax he'd been popping since the first Mary Smith e-mail a week ago did absolutely nothing to hold back the spike of panic that shot through him like the needle used in a spinal tap.
Panic - but also morbid curiosity.
Maybe he was "just" an entertainment columnist, but Arnold Griner knew a huge news story when he saw one. A blockbuster that would dominate the front page for weeks. Someone rich and famous had just been murdered in L.A. He didn't even have to read the e-mail to know that much. "Mary Smith" had already proved herself to be one sick lady and true to her word.
The questions attacking his brain were who had been killed this time? and what the hell was he, Griner, doing in the middle of this awful mess?
Why me of all people? There has to be a good reason, and if I knew it, then I'd really be freaking, wouldn't I?
As he dialed 911 with a badly shaking hand, he clicked open Mary Smith's message with the other. Please, God, no one I know. No one I like.
He began to read, even though everything inside told him not to. He really couldn't help himself. Oh, God! Antonia Schifman! Oh, poor Antonia. Oh no, why her? Antonia was one of the good people, and there weren't too many of those.
To: Antonia Schifman:
I guess you could call this anti-fan mail, although I used to be a fan.
Anyhow, 4:30 in the morning is awfully early for a brilliant, three-time Academy Award winner and mother of four to leave the house and her children, don't you think? I suppose it's the price we pay for being who we are. Or at least it's one of them.
I was there this morning to show you another downside of fame and fortune in Beverly Hills.
It was pitch-black dark when the driver came to take you to "the set." There's a sacrifice you make that your fans don't begin to appreciate.
I walked right in the front gates behind the car and followed him up the driveway.
Suddenly, I had the feeling that your driver had to die if I wanted to get to you, but still, there wasn't any pleasure in killing him. I was too nervous for that, shaking like a sapling in a fierce storm.
The gun was actually trembling in my hand when I knocked on his window. I kept it hidden behind my back and told him you'd be down in a few minutes.
"No problem," he said. And you know what? He barely even looked at me. Why should he? You are the star of stars, fifteen million a picture I've read. I was just the maid as far as he was concerned.
It felt like I was playing a bit part in one of your movies, but trust me, I was planning to steal this scene.
I knew I had to do something pretty dramatic soon. He was going to wonder why I was still standing there. I didn't know if I'd be too scared to do it if he actually looked at me. But then he did - and everything just happened.
I shoved the gun into his face and pulled the trigger. Such a tiny action, almost a reflex. A second later, he was dead, just blown away. I could do pretty much whatever I wanted to now.
So I walked around to the passenger side, climbed inside the car, and waited for you. Nice, nice car. So plush and comfortable, with leather, soft lighting, a bar and small refrigeratorstocked with all your favorites. Twix bars, Antonia? Shame, shame.
In a way, it was too bad you came out of the house so soon. I liked being in your limo. The quiet time, the luxury. In those few minutes, I could see why you would want to be who you are. Or at least, who you were.
My heart is beating faster just writing this, remembering the moment.
You stood outside the car for a second before you opened the door for yourself. Dressed down, without makeup, yet still breathtaking. You couldn't see me or the dead driver through the one-way glass. But I could see you. That's how it's been all week, Antonia. I've been right there and you've never noticed me.
What an incredible moment this was for me! Me, inside your car. You, outside, in a tweed jacket that made you look very Irish and down-to-earth.
When you got in, I immediately locked the doors and put down the partition. You got this amazing look on your face the second you saw me. I'd seen that same look before - in your movies, when you pretended to be afraid.
What you probably didn't realize was that I was just as scared as you. My whole body was quivering. My teeth were hitting together. That's why I shot you before either of us could say anything.
The moment went by way too fast, but I had planned on that. That's what the knife was for. I just hope it isn't your children who find you. I wouldn't want them to see you that way. All they need to know is that Mommy is gone, and she's not coming back.
Those poor children - Andi, Tia, Petra, Elizabeth.
They're the ones I feel so sorry for. Poor, poor babies without their mommy. Could anything be sadder?
I know something that is - but that's my secret, and no one will ever know.
Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson
Read by Peter J. Fernandez, Melissa Leo, & Michael Louis Wells
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