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11th Hour

Your best friend

Lindsay Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn't slow for a second. When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, she discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco's most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department's evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer—even her closest friends.

Or a vicious killer?

Lindsay is called next to the most bizarre crime scene she's ever seen: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor. Another head is unearthed in the garden, and Lindsay realizes that the ground could hide hundreds of victims.

You won't know until the 11th hour

A reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases and Lindsay's personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to—especially not Joe. 11TH HOUR is the most shocking, most emotional, and most thrilling Women's Murder Club novel ever.

Book One | The House of Heads

Chapter 3

CINDY THOMAS WAS walking down the long slope of Divisadero, with its crystal view over the rooftops all the way out to the dawn-lit bay. It was a fantastic sight that normally gave her a real rush to the heart, but Cindy wasn’t sightseeing. Wasn’t walking for the exercise either.

She was struggling with a conflict, a big one, and she hoped that by airing out her brain, she would get some clarity.

Her fiancé, Rich Conklin, had woken her at something like five thirty this morning when he’d gotten up to go to work. He’d been sitting on the side of the bed tying his shoelaces in the dark and he’d said, “We’ll get used to this kind of thing when we have kids.”

This was Rich’s third comment about having kids in the past couple of weeks.

She’d said to him, “Hey, mister. What’s the rush?”

“It’s better to do it while we can still keep up with little ones, ya know?”

He’d pulled the covers over her shoulders, kissed her, said, “Go back to sleep,” and she’d tried, but she’d failed, absolutely.

At six thirty she’d dressed and gone out for what she’d thought would be a short walk. She had now been walking for over an hour and was no closer to an answer than she’d been when she’d gone out the door.

An investigative reporter with the Chronicle, Cindy had been working the crime desk for six years. She’d earned a seat at editorial meetings and a lot of respect for her talent and her tenacity. She was well positioned for top management and a big, big future. But this job that she loved was always at risk. If she had children, she wouldn’t be able to work the kind of hours she needed to; she’d never be able to compete.

Richie was handsome, sweet, and she loved him. A few months ago, he’d surprised her with his mother’s diamond ring, dropped to one knee in front of the altar in Grace Cathedral, and proposed to her—like they say, in front of God and everyone.

Seriously, what more could a girl want?

As it turned out, she wanted a lot.

If she told Richie how she felt, maybe he would change his mind about her. Maybe she’d break his beautiful heart.

When Cindy got to the stop sign at the corner of Divisadero and Vallejo, she glanced at her watch and realized that if she didn’t get a cab, she’d be late to work.

She got out her cell phone, and, as if taking out the phone had caused it, a rush of unmarked police cars and cruisers blew past her and turned onto Vallejo.

She looked down Vallejo at the impressive row of megamansions on each side of the magnolia-lined street and saw that the cop cars had stopped a few blocks away, right in front of the infamous Ellsworth compound.

Something had happened at that house. And if there really was a reason for everything, then she’d walked four miles this morning so that she would be the first reporter on the scene.

Cindy broke into a run.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theatres across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

James on 11th Hour and The Women's Murder Club

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