Winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
James Patterson, author of the #1 bestsellers Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, has written one of America's suspense masterpieces. The Thomas Berryman Number begins with three terrifying murders in the South. It ends with a relentless and unforgettable manhunt in the North. In between is the riveting story of a chilling assassin, the woman he loves, and the beloved leader he is hired to kill with extreme prejudice.
Down on the Farm (1962)
Claude, Texas, 1962
The year he and Ben Toy left Claude, Texas–1962– Thomas Berryman had been in the habit of wearing black cowboy boots with distinctive red stars on the ankles. He'd also been stuffing four twenty-dollar bills in each boot sole. By mid-July the money had begun to shred and smell like feet.
One otherwise unpromising afternoon there'd been a shiny Coupe de Ville out on Ranch Road #5. It was metallic blue. Throwing sun spirals and stars off the bumpers.
He and Ben Toy had watched its approach for six or eight miles of scruffy Panhandle desert. They were doing nothing. "Bored sick and dying fast on a fencerail," Berryman had said earlier. Toy had only half-smiled.
"You heard about that greaseball Raymond Cone? I suppose you did," the conversation was going now.
"I always said that was going to happen." Berryman puffed thoughtfully on a non-filter cigarette. "The way he's always talking about dry-humping Nadine in his old man's Chevrolet, it had to."
"You think he'll marry her?"
"I know he'll marry her. It's been happening for about a hundred years straight around here. Then the old man gets him with Pepsi in Amarillo. Then she has the kid. Then he splits on both of them for Reno, Nevada, or California. I hate that, I really do."
Toy took out a small, wrinkled roll of money and started counting five- and ten- and one-dollar bills. "He says he'll put a 30-30 in his mouth. Before he marries Nadine."
"Yeah, well ... He'll be haulassing soda cases pretty soon. That'll dilute his 'Frankie and Johnny' philosophies."
Thomas Berryman shaded his sunglasses so he could see the approaching car better. A finely made coil of brown dust followed it like a streamer. Buzzards crossed its path, heading east toward Wichita Falls.
When the Coupe was less than twenty-five yards away, Berryman flipped out his thumb. "Are you coming or not?" he said to Toy.
The big car, meanwhile, had clicked out of cruise control and was easing to a stop.
The driver turned out to be the Bishop of Albuquerque-. Padre Luis Gonsolo. Both young men left Claude, Texas, with him. They kept right on going until they were in New York City.
Thomas Berryman and Ben Toy rode into New York in high style too . . . in the 1962 metallic blue Coupe de Ville . . . without the Bishop.
Copyright © 1976 by James Patterson
Read by Will Patton
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