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Alex Cross, Run

Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls. Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him—by giving himself a new face.

A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene. The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime. All of Washington, D.C., is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.

Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him—and will stop at nothing until he's dead. With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, ALEX CROSS, RUN is James Patterson's ultimate thrill ride.

Prologue | DIE YOUNG AND LEAVE A BEAUTIFUL CORPSE

One

IT’S NOT EVERY DAY THAT I GET A NAKED GIRL ANSWERING THE DOOR I knock on.

Don’t get me wrong—with twenty years of law enforcement under my belt, it’s happened. Just not that often.

“Are you the waiters?” this girl asked. There was a bright but empty look in her eyes that said ecstasy to me, and I could smell weed from inside. The music was thumping, too, the kind of relentless techno that would make me want to slit my wrists if I had to listen to it for long.

“No, we’re not the waiters,” I told her, showing my badge. “Metro police. And you need to put something on, right now.”

She wasn’t even fazed. “There were supposed to be waiters,” she said to no one in particular. It made me sad and disgusted at the same time. This girl didn’t look like she was even out of high school yet, and the men we were here to arrest were old enough to be her father.

“Check her clothes before she puts them on,” I told one of the female officers on the entry team. Besides myself there were five uniformed cops, a rep from Youth and Family Services, three detectives from the Prostitution Unit, and three more from Second District, including my friend John Sampson.

Second District is Georgetown—not the usual stomping grounds for the Prostitution Unit. The white brick N Street town house where we’d arrived was typical for the neighborhood, probably worth somewhere north of five million. It was a rental property, paid six months in advance by proxy, but the paper trail had led back to Dr. Elijah Creem, one of DC’s most in-demand plastic surgeons. As far as we could make out, Creem was funneling funds to pay for these “industry parties,” and his partner in scum, Josh Bergman, was providing the eye candy.

Bergman was the owner of Cap City Dolls, a legit modeling agency based out of an M Street office, with a heavily rumored arm in the underground flesh trade. Detectives at the department were pretty sure that while Bergman was running his aboveboard agency with one hand, he was also dispatching exotic dancers, overnight escorts, masseuses, and porn “talent” with the other. As far as I could tell, the house was filled with “talent” right now, and they all seemed to be about eighteen, more or less. Emphasis on the less.

I couldn’t wait to bust these two scumbags.

Surveillance had put Creem and Bergman downtown at Minibar around seven o’clock that night, and then here at the party house as of nine thirty. Now it was just a game of smoking them out.

Beyond the enclosed foyer the party was in full swing. The front hall and formal living room were packed. It was all Queen Anne furniture and parquet floors on the one hand and half-dressed, tweaked-out kids stomping to the music and drinking out of plastic cups on the other.

“I want everyone contained in this front room,” Sampson shouted at one of the uniforms. “We’ve got an anytime warrant for this house, so start looking. We’re checking for drugs, cash, ledgers, appointment books, cell phones, everything. And get this goddamn music off!”

We left half the team to secure the front of the house and took the rest toward the back, where there was more party going on.

In the open kitchen there seemed to be a big game of strip poker in progress at the large marble-topped island. Half a dozen well-muscled guys and twice as many girls in their underwear were standing around holding cards, drinking, and passing a few joints.

Several of them scrambled as we came in. A few of the girls screamed and tried to run out, but we’d already blocked the way.

Finally, somebody cut the music.

“Where are Elijah Creem and Joshua Bergman?” Sampson asked the room. “First one to give me a straight answer gets a free ticket out of here.”

A skinny girl in a black lace bra and cutoffs pointed toward the stairs. From the size of her chest in relation to the rest of her, my guess was she’d already gone under the knife with Dr. Creem at least once.

“Up there,” she said.

“Bitch,” someone muttered under his breath.

Sampson hooked a finger at me to follow him, and we headed up.

“Can I go now?” cutoffs girl called after us.

“Let’s see how good your word is first,” Sampson said.

When we got to the second-floor hall, it was empty. The only light was a single electric hurricane lamp on a glossy antique table near the stairs. There were equestrian portraits on the walls and a long Oriental runner that ended in front of a closed double door at the back of the house. Even from here I could make out more music thumping on the other side. Old-school this time. Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House.”

Watch out, you might get what you’re after.

Cool babies, strange but not a stranger.

I could hear laughing, too, and two different men’s voices.

“That’s it, sweetheart. A little closer. Now pull down her panties.”

“Yeah, that’s what you call money in the bank right there.”

Sampson gave me a look like he wanted to either puke or kill someone.

“Let’s do this,” he said, and we started up the hall.

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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