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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 4

THE ELLSWORTH COMPOUND was an immense and fanciful brick mansion built in the late 1800s, considered one of the most spectacular homes in Pacific Heights. A vine-covered wall fronted the house, and four attached buildings, built as servants’ quarters, wrapped around the corner of Vallejo and went halfway down Ellsworth Place.

The compound had a colorful history of political intrigue and sex scandals going back over a hundred and twenty years.

But as Cindy ran along Vallejo toward the scrum of squad cars bunched in front of the mansion, she was thinking about the recent history of the house.

Ten years earlier, the Oscar-winning actor and legendary womanizer Harry Chandler had bought the Ellsworth compound and moved in with his glamorous wife, fashion designer to the stars Cecily Broad Chandler.

A year later, Cece Chandler simply disappeared.

Cindy had been an editorial assistant at the paper at the time, but she followed this gripping story over the next eighteen months as Harry Chandler was investigated, then tried for his wife’s murder.

Chandler had pleaded not guilty, and because his wife’s body was never found, the prosecution couldn’t prove its case.

No body, no crime.

Harry Chandler was exonerated.

He had kept the Ellsworth compound as an investment while he lived on a yacht at a country club marina a few miles away.

Cindy had seen Chandler a couple of times at big social events and benefits. Looking at a man who had made so many famous films, you couldn’t know if he was a killer or if he just played one on the big screen.

Now, blowing hard from her run, Cindy walked the last hundred yards to the front entrance of the Ellsworth compound, saw that it had already been cordoned off by uniformed officers. There was a crowd in front of the gate, tourists who had clearly come off a red bus marked STAR HOME TOURS.

Cindy went up to a cop she knew, Joe Sorbera, and asked him what was going on.

“You don’t want to get me in trouble, Cindy. Do you? Because you know I can’t tell you anything.”

A young man wearing a Boston University sweatshirt came up next to Cindy and said, “Chandler thought he’d get away with it again.”

Cindy introduced herself to the BU guy, said that she was a reporter, and asked the tourist to speak into her camera phone.

“The case of Cecily Chandler is a perfect example of how privileged people get over on the system,” the young man said. “Harry Chandler had a famous defense attorney for a lawyer, a slick talker who probably played tennis with the judge.”

Cindy shut off her phone, said, “Thanks,” then muttered to herself, “for less than nothing.”

A Channel Two news truck was turning onto Vallejo as two uniformed cops put out wooden barricades to block it.

Walking backward, Cindy tried again to get information from Sorbera.

“Can’t you give me something, Joe, anything? I can quote you or keep you off the record, whatever you want. Please. Any detail will do.”

“Stand back, Cindy. Thatta girl. Thank you.”

Officer Sorbera stretched out his arms and corralled the crowd behind a barricade, letting the unmarked car Richie was driving go through.

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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