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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 7

ADRENALINE BURNED THROUGH my bloodstream like flame on a short fuse. What had happened here?

What in God’s name was I looking at?

The head to the right was the most horrific because it was reasonably fresh. It had belonged to a woman in her thirties with long brown hair and a stud piercing the left side of her nose. Her eyes were too cloudy to tell their color.

There was dirt in her hair that looked like garden soil, and maggots were working on the flesh, but enough of her features remained to get a likeness and possibly an ID.

The other head was a skull, just the bare cranium with the lower jaw attached and a full set of good teeth.

Two index cards lay faceup on the bricks in front of the heads and both had numbers written on them with a ballpoint pen. The card in front of the skull read 104. The other card, the one in front of the more recently severed head, read 613.

What did the numbers mean?

Where had these heads come from?

Why were they placed here in plain sight?

If this was a homicide, where were the bodies?

I tore my gaze away from the heads to look into Janet Worley’s face. She covered her mouth with both hands and tears sprang to her eyes.

I saw a meltdown coming. I had to question her. Now.

“Who do these remains belong to? Where are the bodies? Tell us about it, Mrs. Worley.”

“Me? All I know is what I just told you. I’m the one who called the police.”

“Then who did this?”

“I have no idea. None at all.”

“You understand that lying would make you an accessory to the crime.”

“My God. I know nothing.”

Conklin said, “We need the names of everyone who has been inside this house since last Friday.”

“Of course, but it’s only been my husband, my daughter, and me.”

“And Mr. Chandler?”

“Heavens, no. I haven’t seen him in three months.”

“Have you handled these heads or disturbed anything on the patio?”

“No, no, no. I opened the door to air out the room at about seven this morning. I saw this. I called my husband. Then I called nine-one-one.”

Janet Worley went inside the house, and Conklin and I were left to consider the nature of “this.”

Was it Satanism? Terrorism? Drug-related homicide? Who were these victims? What had happened to them?

I wanted to start looking around, but Conklin and I had to stay on the bricks and focus on what we could see without contaminating evidence.

Brady had told us to do the prelim.

That was the job: scope out the crime and tell our lieutenant whether this was a double homicide or a freak show that should be handed off to Major Crimes.

“I don’t know what the hell we’re looking at,” I said to Conklin.

Truly, I’d never seen anything like it in my life.

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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