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04.22.14
Gone
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05.05.14
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The 8th Confession

Someone is killing the richest people in the city—and it's the Women's Murder Club's scariest investigation ever.

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING
At the party of the year, San Francisco's most glamorous millionaires mingle...while someone is watching—waiting for a chance to take vengeance on Isa and Ethan Bailey, the city's most celebrated couple. Finally, the killer pinpoints the ideal moment, and it's the perfect murder.

BUT THE TRUTH CAN BE DEADLY
While Detective Lindsay Boxer investigates the high-profile killings, someone else is found brutally executed—a preacher with a message of hope for the homeless. His death nearly falls through the cracks, but reporter Cindy Thomas hears about it and soon discovers the victim may not have been quite as saintly as everyone thought.

LET THE CONFESSIONS BEGIN
As the hunt for two criminals tests the limits of the Women's Murder Club, Lindsay sees sparks fly between Cindy and Lindsay's partner, Detective Rich Conklin. The Women's Murder Club now faces its toughest challenge: Will love destroy all that four friends have built? James Patterson serves up a double dose of speed-charged twists and shocking revelations. And remember, this is the only Murder Club episode of the year.

Prologue | BUS STOP

One

THE OLD CHROME-YELLOW school bus crawled south on Market Street at half past seven that May morning. Its side and back windows were blacked out, and a hip-hop hit throbbed into the low-lying mist that floated like a silk veil between the sun and San Francisco.

Got my ice

Got my smoke

Got my ride

Ain't got no hope

Hold ya heads up high

Don't know when

Ya gonna die....

The traffic light changed to yellow at the intersection of Fourth and Market. The stop-sign arm at the driver's side of

the school bus swung out, the four- way hazard lights burned amber, and the vehicle came to a halt.

To the right of the bus was a shopping mall, a huge one: Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, the windows papered with large Abercrombie posters of provocative half-naked teens in black and white.

To the left of the bus was a blue Ford van and then one of two islands splitting the road—a staging area for bus passengers and tourists.

Two cars behind the school bus, Louise Lindenmeyer, office manager, late for work, braked her old gray Volvo. She buzzed down her window and glared at that goddamned school bus.

She'd been stuck on its tailpipe since Buena Vista Park, then watched it pull away from her at the light at Fifth and Market as a stream of traffic took the turn and pulled in front of her.

And now that bus had stuck her at a light...again.

Louise heard a shout. "Hey, asshole!"

A man in his shirtsleeves, tie flapping, face bunched up, dried shaving cream under his left ear, walked past her car to give the bus driver hell.

A horn honked, and another, and then a cacophony of horns.

The light was green.

Louise took her foot off the brake and at that instant felt a concussive shock, her ears ringing as she saw the roof of the school bus explode violently upward.

Chunks of burning metal, steel-and-glass shrapnel, shot out in all directions faster than gunfire. A mushroom cloud

like that of a small A-bomb formed above the bus, and the box-shaped vehicle became a fireball. Oily smoke colored the air.

Louise saw the blue van in the lane to the left of the bus bloom with flame, then blacken in front of her eyes.

No one got out of the van!

And now the blaze rushed at the silver Camry directly in front of her. The gas tank blew, and fire danced over the car, consuming it in vivid, leaping flames.

The bunch-faced man pulled himself up off the pavement to the hole where her passenger-side window had been. His shirt was gone. His hair was black frizz. The skin of his face was draped over his collarbone like tissue paper.

Louise recoiled in horror, grappled with her door handle as fire lapped at the hood of her Volvo. The car door opened and the heat rushed in.

That's when she saw the skin of her own arm still on the steering wheel, as if it were a glove turned inside out. Louise couldn't hear the businessman's horrified screams or her own. It was as though her ears had been plugged with wax. Her vision was all dancing spots and blurry shapes.

And then she was sucked down into a well of black.

Copyright © 2009 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 read 7th Heaven by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.

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