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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 6

"I'LL JOIN YOU in a bit," I said to Joe's back as he walked down the hall to our bedroom.

I took my laptop to the sofa and reclined with my head against the armrest, Martha lying across my feet.

I opened a Facebook account and did a search for Avis Richardson. After some fancy finger navigation, I found her home page, which wasn't privacy protected. I read the messages on her wall, mostly innocuous shout-outs and references to parties, all of which meant nothing to me. But I did learn that Avis attended Brighton Academy, a pricey boarding school near the Presidio.

I called Conklin at around midnight to tell him that we had to track down the head of Brighton, but I got his voice mail. I left a message saying, "Call me anytime. I'm up." I made coffee and then accessed Brighton's website.

The site was designed to attract kids and their parents to the school and, if you could believe the hype and the photos, Brighton Academy was a little bit of heaven. The kids—all of them good-looking and well groomed—were shown studying, onstage in the auditorium, or on the soccer field. Avis was in a couple of those photos. I saw a happy kid who was nothing like the young woman lying in a hospital bed.

I recognized other kids, ones I'd seen on Avis's Facebook page.

I made a list of their names.

And then I heard a baby crying.

When I opened my eyes, I was still on the sofa, my laptop closed, with Martha on the floor beside me. She was whining in her dreams.

The digital clock on the DVR showed a couple of minutes before seven in the morning. I had a terrible realization. This was only my second night in our apartment as a married woman, and it was the first time, ever, that I'd slept in the same house as Joe but not in the same bed.

I poured out some kibble for Martha, then peeked into the bedroom where Joe was sleeping. I called his name and touched his face, but he rolled over and went deeper into sleep. I showered and dressed quietly and then walked Martha up and down Lake Street, thinking about Joe and our marriage vows and about what it meant to be part of this team of two.

I would have to be more considerate.

I had to remember that I wasn't single anymore.

A moment later, my mind boomeranged back to Avis Richardson and her missing baby.

That child. That child. Where was that baby?

Was he lying in the cold grass? Or had he been stuffed in a suitcase and into the cargo hold of a ship?

I called Conklin's cell at 7:30, and this time I got him.

"Avis Richardson goes to Brighton Academy. That's one of those boarding schools where parents who live out of state park their kids."

"It might explain why no one is looking for her," Conklin said. "I was just talking with K-9. The hounds are going in circles. If Avis was transported from point A to point B by car, that would have broken the circular trail."

"Crap," I said. "So, she could have delivered the baby anywhere and then been dumped by the lake. No way to know where point A was."

"That's what I'm thinking," he said.

"I'll meet you at the hospital in fifteen minutes," I said. "Avis Richardson's memory is all we've got."

When we got to Avis Richardso's hospital room, it was empty, and so was her bed.n

"What's this now? Did she die?" I asked my partner, my voice colored by unadulterated exasperation.

The nurse came in behind me on crepe-soled shoes. She was a tiny thing with very muscular arms and wild gray hair. I recognized her from the night before.

"It's not my fault, Sergeant. I checked on Ms. Richardson, then went down the hall for a quarter of a minute," said the nurse. "This girl of yours scampered when my back was turned. Appears she took some clothing from Mrs. Klein in the room next door. And then she must've just walked the hell out of here."

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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