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.
SHE LIKED THIS AURA OF POWER and she really liked the new respect she was suddenly getting at the bank. As she followed the trembling teller past the two Diebold ATMs and then through the meeter-greeter area of the lobby, Brianne thought about the precious seconds she had already taken. The Mastermind had been explicit about the tight schedule for the robbery. He had repeated over and over that everything depended on perfect execution.
Minutes matter, Brianne.
Seconds matter, Brianne.
It even matters that it's Citibank we've chosen to hit today, Brianne.
The robbery had to be exact, precise, perfect. She got it, she got it. The Mastermind had planned it on what he called "a numerical scale of 9.9999 out of 10."
With the heel of her left hand, Brianne shoved the teller into the manager's office. She heard the low hum of a computer coming from inside. Then she saw Betsy Buccieri sitting behind her big executive-style desk.
"You open up your safe every morning at five past eight, so open it for me," she screamed at the manager, who was wide-eyed with surprise and fear. "Open it. Now!"
"I can't open the vault," Mrs. Buccieri protested. "The vault is automatically opened by a computer signal from the main office in Manhattan. It never happens at the same time."
The bank robber pointed to her own left ear. She signaled with her finger for Mrs. Betsy Buccieri to listen. To listen to what, though? "Five, four, three, two -" Brianne said. Then she reached for the phone on the manager's desk. It rang. Perfect timing.
"It's for you," Brianne said, her voice slightly muffled by the rubbery President Clinton mask. "You listen carefully." She handed the phone to Mrs. Buccieri, but she knew the exact words the bank manager would hear, and who the speaker was.
The scariest voice of all for the bank manager to hear was not that of the Mastermind making very real but idle-sounding threats, but someone even better. Scarier.
"Betsy, it's Steve. There's a man here in our house. He has a gun pointed at me. He says that unless the woman in your office leaves the bank with the money by eight-ten exactly, Tommy, Anna, and I will be killed.
"It's eight-oh-four." The phone line suddenly went dead. Her husband's voice was gone.
"Steve? Steve!" Tears flowed into Betsy Buccieri's eyes and rolled down her cheeks. She stared at the masked woman and couldn't believe this was happening. "Don't hurt them. Please. I'll open the vault for you. I'll do it now. Don't hurt anyone."
Brianne repeated the message the bank manager had already heard. "Eight-ten exactly. Not one second later. And no stupid bank tricks. No silent alarms. No dye packs."
"Follow me. No alarms," Betsy Buccieri promised. She almost couldn't think. Steve, Tommy, Anna. The names rang loudly in her head.
They arrived at the door of the bank's Mosler vault. It was 8:05.
"Open the door, Betsy. We are on the clock. We're losing time. Your family is losing time. Steve, Anna, little Tommy, they could all die."
It took a little less than two minutes for Betsy Buccieri to get into the vault, which was a polished steel thing of beauty with pistons like a locomotive. Stacks of money were plainly visible on nearly all the shelves - more money than Brianne had ever seen in her life. She snapped open two canvas duffel bags and began filling them with the cash. Mrs. Buccieri and Jeanne Galetta watched her take the money in silence. She liked seeing the fear and respect for her on their faces.
As she'd been instructed to, Brianne counted off the minutes as she filled the duffel bags. "Eight-oh-seven . . . eight-oh-eight... " Finally, she was finished with her part in the vault.
"I'm locking you both inside the vault. Don't say one word or I'll shoot you, then lock your dead bodies up."
She hoisted the black duffel bags. "Don't hurt my husband or my baby," Betsy Buccieri begged. "We did what you -"
Brianne slammed the heavy metal door on Betsy Buccieri's desperate plea. She yanked her President Clinton mask from her sweaty face.
She was running late. She walked across the lobby, unlocked the front door with plastic-gloved hands, and went outside. She felt like running as fast as she could to her car, but she walked calmly, as if she didn't have a care in the world on this fine spring morning. She was tempted to pull out her six-shooter and put a hole into the big Egg McShit staring down on her. Yeah, she had an attitude, all right.
When she got to the Acura, she checked her watch: 52 seconds past 8:10. And counting. She was late - but that was the way it was supposed to be. She smiled.
She didn't call Errol at the Buccieri house where Steve, Tommy, and the nanny, Anna, were being held. She didn't tell him she had the money and she was safely in the Acura. She had been told not to by the Mastermind. The hostages were supposed to die.
Copyright © 2000 by James Patterson
Read by Jason Culp and Keith David (abridged) & Peter J. Fernandez (unabridged)
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