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10th Anniversary

For every secret

Detective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals—but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.

For every lie

At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life—a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?

There's a different way to die

Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family. With James Patterson's white-hot speed and unquenchable action, 10th Anniversary is the most deliciously chilling Women's Murder Club book ever.


Chapter 4

I STAYED at Avis Richardson's bedside for the next eight hours, hoping she'd wake up for real and tell me what had happened to her and her newborn. Time passed. Her sleep only deepened. And every minute that went by made me more certain that this girl's baby would not be found alive.

I still didn't know anything about what had happened to this teenager. Had she given birth alone and left the baby in a gas station bathroom? Had her child been snatched?

We couldn't even get the FBI involved until we knew if a crime had been committed.

While I sat at Avis's bedside, Conklin went back to the Hall and threw himself into the hands-on work of the case. He reached into the missing persons databases and ran searches for Avis Richardson or any missing Caucasian teenage girls matching her description.

He interviewed the couple who had brought Avis to the hospital and established the approximate area where they had found her: Lake Merced, near Brotherhood Way.

Working with the K-9 unit, Conklin went out into the field. Cops and hounds looked for the blood trail that Avis Richardson had surely left behind. If the house where she'd given birth could be located, there'd be evidence there, and maybe the truth.

As the hounds worked the scent, the crime lab processed the plastic poncho Avis had been wearing. It would hold prints, for sure, but a few dozen people at the hospital had handled that poncho. It didn't make any sense that she was wearing a rain poncho but no clothes.

Another mystery.

I kept vigil with a sleeping Avis. And the longer I sat, the more depressed I became. Where were the worried friends and parents? Why wasn't someone looking for this young girl?

Her eyelids fluttered.

"Avis?" I said.

"Huh," she answered. Then she closed her eyes again.

I took a break at around four in the afternoon, pushed dollar bills into a vending machine, and ate something with peanut butter and oats in it. Washed it down with a cup of bitter coffee.

I contacted a dozen hospitals to see if a motherless baby had been brought in and got in touch with Child Protective Services as well. I came up with nothing more than a mounting heap of frustration.

I borrowed Dr. Rifkin's laptop and went out to VICAP, the FBI's Violent Crime Apprehension Program database, to see what they had on the abduction of pregnant women.

I found a few crimes against pregnant women—domestic violence mainly, but no cases that resembled this one.

After my fruitless Internet crawl, I went back to the ICU and slept in the big vinyl-covered reclining chair beside Avis's bed. I woke up when she was wheeled out of the ICU and down the hall to a private room.

I called Brady, told him that we were still nowhere, my voice sounding defensive to my own ears.

"Anything on the baby?"

"Brady, this girl hasn't said boo."

When I hung up with Brady, my phone buzzed with an incoming call from Conklin.

"Talk to me," I said.

"The hounds found her trail."

I was instantly hopeful. I gripped my little phone, almost strangling it to death.

"She bled for about a mile," Conklin told me. "She put down a circular path at the southernmost part of Lake Merced."

"That sounds like she was looking for help. Desperately looking."

"The hounds are still on it, Lindsay, but the searchable area is expanding. They're working a grid on the golf course now. The gun club area is next. This could take years."

"I haven't found anything in missing persons," I said.

"Me, neither. I'm in the car, calling people with the name Richardson in San Francisco. There are over four hundred listings."

"I'll help with that. You start at A. Richardson. I'll start at Z. Richardson, and we'll work toward the middle," I said. "I'll meet you at the letter M."

When I hung up with Richie, Avis opened her pretty, green eyes. She focused them on me.

"Hey," I said. "How are you feeling?"

I had a white-knuckle grip on the rails of her bed.

"Where am I?" the girl asked me. "What happened to me?"

I bit back the words "Ah, shit" and told Avis Richardson what little I knew.

"We're trying to find your baby," I said.

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn McCormick has appeared in the films A Simple Twist of Fate and Enemy Mine. She has starred as Dr. Olivet on television's Law & Order for the past twelve years, and as a guest on The Practice and Star Trek. Her Broadway credits include roles in The Dinner Party and Private Lives. She also read The 9th Judgment by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.

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