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The 9th Judgment

Detective Lindsay Boxer chases a jewel thief, a murderous movie star, and a killer with a vendetta against women and children.

The most personal
A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in blood red lipstick.

The most dangerous
The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling walks in on a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is an empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria.

The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever
Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner Rich—and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her relationship with her fiancé and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line—but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best!

Prologue | A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Two

CASEY DOWLING WAS trying to squeeze an admission from her husband, but Marcus wasn't having it.

"What the hell, Casey?" he snapped. "I wasn't staring at Sheila's boobs, for Christ's sake. every single time we get together with people, you complain that I'm leering, and frankly, sweetheart, I find your paranoia very unattractive."

"Ohhhh no, Marcus. you? Leer at another woman? I'm soooo ashamed of myself for even having had the thought." Casey had a lovely laugh, even when it was colored with sarcasm.

"Silly cow," Marcus Dowling muttered.

Sarah imagined his handsome face, the thick gray hair falling across his brow as he scowled. She imagined Casey, too—her willowy shape, her white-blond hair falling in a silvery sheet to her shoulder blades.

Casey cooed, "There, there. I've hurt your feelings."

"Forget it, love. I'm not in the mood now."

"Oh. Sorry. My mistake."

Sarah felt the rebuff as if it had happened to her. Then Marcus said, "Oh, for pity's sake. Don't cry. Come here."

The room went quiet for a few minutes, until Sarah heard a whoosh of bodies falling into plumped bedding, then murmuring—words she couldn't make out. Then the headboard began to tap against the wall, and Sarah thought, oh dear God, they're doing it.

images came to her of Marcus Dowling in Susan and James with Jennifer Lowe and in redboy with kimberly kerry. She thought of Casey in Marcus's arms, her long legs wrapped around him. The tapping became more rhythmic and the moaning became louder and then there was a long, groaning exhalation from Marcus, and then—mercifully—it was over.

Someone used the bathroom after that, and finally the room went black.

Sarah squatted quietly behind the curtain of gowns for at least twenty minutes, and when the breathing outside the closet settled into sputters and snores, she opened the door and crawled to the window.

She was almost home free—but not there yet.

Sarah was quick and quiet as she vaulted to the windowsill, but when one leg followed the other, she hit the side of the console table—and it all went wrong.

There was the tinkling of sliding whatnots as the table tipped and then crashed, sending its load of picture frames and perfume bottles to the floor.

Holy crap.

Sarah froze, mind and body, as Casey Dowling bolted into a sitting position and yelled, "Who's there?"

Sarah's stark fear propelled her out the window. She hung on to the roof of the carport with all the strength in her fingertips, then released her grip and made the ten-foot drop.

She landed on grass, knees bent, no pain. And as the Dowlings' bedroom light came on overhead, Sarah ran. She ripped off her headlamp and stuffed it into one of the duffels as she sprinted through the upscale San Francisco neighborhood of Nob Hill.

A few minutes later Sarah found her old Saturn where she'd left it in the parking lot outside a drugstore. She got into the car, closed the door, and locked it, as if that could keep out her fear. She started up the engine and released the hand brake, still panting, trying not to throw up as she drove toward home.

When she hit the straightaway of Pine Street, Sarah pulled off her cap and gloves, wiped her brow with the back of her hand, and thought hard about her escape from the Dowlings' bedroom.

She'd left nothing: no tools, no prints, no DNA. No nothing.

For now, at least, she was safe.

Honestly. She didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Copyright © 2010 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 The 8th Confession by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.

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