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.
RELUCTANTLY, the Mastermind parked on the street, then walked toward an abandoned project within a stone's throw of the Anacostia River. A full moon cast a cold, hard, bone white light on half a dozen crumbling three-story row houses with open, screenless windows. He wondered if he had the stomach for this. "Into the valley of death," he whispered.
To his further dismay, he found the Parkers' hideout was in the row house farthest from the street. They were ensconced on the third floor. Their lovely little lodging was furnished with a grimy, stained mattress and a rusted lawn chair. Greasy wrappings from KFC and Mickey D's were scattered on the floor.
As he entered their room, he held up a couple of oven-warm pizza boxes as well as a brown paper bag. "Chianti and pizza! This is a celebration, isn't it?"
Brianne and Errol were evidently hungry and dug into the pizza pies immediately. They barely greeted him, which he took as disrespect. The Mastermind busied himself pouring Chianti into plastic cups he had brought for the occasion. He passed around the cups and then made a toast.
"To perfect crimes," he said.
"Yeah, right. Perfect crimes." Errol Parker frowned as he took two big sips of Chianti. "If that's what you call what happened in Silver Spring. Three murders that could have been avoided." "That's what I call it," said the Mastermind. "Absolutely perfect. You'll see."
They ate and drank in silence. The Parkers seemed moody, even defiant. Brianne kept sneaking looks at him. Suddenly, Errol Parker began to rub his throat. He coughed repeatedly. Then he gasped loudly, "Aaagh! Aaagh!" His throat and his chest were burning. He couldn't breathe. He tried to stand, but he immediately toppled over.
"What is it? What's wrong, Errol? Errol?" Brianne asked, alarmed and afraid.
Then she grabbed at her throat, too. It was on fire. So was her chest. She shot up from the mattress. She dropped the cup of wine and held her throat with both hands.
"What the hell is happening? What's happening to us?" she screamed at the Mastermind. "What did you do?"
"Isn't it obvious?" he answered in the coldest, most remote voice she had ever heard.
The tenement room seemed to be whirling out of control. Errol went into spasms, then fell to the floor in a seizure. Brianne bit a gash in her tongue. Both of them were still clutching at their throats. They were choking, gagging, unable to breathe. Their faces had taken on a dusky hue.
The Mastermind stood across the room and watched. The paralysis from the poison they had imbibed was progressive and extremely painful. It started with the facial muscles, then moved to the glottis in the back of the throat. The Parkers obviously couldn't swallow. Finally, it affected the respiratory organs. A high enough dose of Anectine led to cardiac arrest.
It took less than fifteen minutes for the two of them to die, as mercilessly as those murdered in Silver Spring, Maryland. They lay motionless, spread-eagled on the floor. He was quite sure that they were dead, but he checked the vital signs, anyway. Their features were unbearably contorted and their bodies twisted. They looked as if they had fallen from a great height.
"To perfect crimes," the Mastermind intoned over the grotesquely sprawled bodies.
Copyright © 2000 by James Patterson
Read by Jason Culp and Keith David (abridged) & Peter J. Fernandez (unabridged)
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