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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

Three

TWO MONTHS TO THE DAY AFTER ELIJAH CREEM’S UNFORTUNATE SCANDAL broke in the headlines, he was ready to make a change. A big one. It was amazing what a little time, a good lawyer, and a whole lot of cash could do.

Of course, he wasn’t out of the woods yet. And the cash wasn’t going to last forever. Not if Miranda had anything to say about it. She was only speaking to him these days through her own attorney, and he hadn’t been allowed to see Chloe or Justine since the future ex–Mrs. Creem had packed them off to her parents’ house in Newport. Word from the lawyer was that they’d be finishing out the school year there.

The silence from the girls had been deafening as well. All three of his blond beauties—Miranda, Justine, Chloe—had swiftly turned their backs on him, just as easily as closing a door.

As for the medical practice, there hadn’t been a consult, much less a booking, since it had come out in the press that Dr. Creem (or Dr. Creep, as a few of the less savory rags were calling him) had traded surgical procedures for sex with more than one of Joshua Bergman’s unfortunately underage protégées. Between that, and the little video collection Creem had accumulated on his home computer, there was still the very real possibility of a jail sentence if they went to trial.

Which was why Elijah Creem had no intention of letting that happen. What was the old cliché? Today is the first day of the rest of your life?

Yes, indeed. And he was going to make it count.

“I can’t go to prison, Elijah,” Joshua told him on the phone. “And I’m not saying I don’t want to. I mean, I can’t. I really don’t think I’d make it in there.”

Creem put a hand over the Bluetooth at his ear to hear better, and to avoid being overheard by the passersby on M Street.

“Better you than me, Joshua. At least you like dick.”

“I’m serious, Elijah.”

“I’m joking, Josh. And believe me, I’m no more inclined than you are. That’s why we’re not going to let it come to that.”

“Where are you, anyway?” Bergman asked. “You sound funny.”

“It’s the mask,” Creem told him.

“The mask?”

“Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. There’s been a change of plans.”

The mask was an ingenious bit of latex composite, molded from human forms. The very newest thing. Creem had been experimenting with it since the scandal broke, and his own famous face had become something of a social liability. Now, as he passed the plate-glass window in front of Design Within Reach, he barely recognized his own reflection. All he saw was an ugly old man—sallow skin, sunken cheeks, and a pathetic remnant of dry, silver hair over a liver-spotted scalp. It was spectacular, actually. Poetic, even. The old man in the reflection looked just as ruined as Dr. Creem was feeling these days.

Dark-rimmed glasses masked the openings around his eyes. And while the lips were tight and uncomfortable, they were also formfitting enough that he could talk, drink, eat—anything at all—with the mask on.

“I didn’t want to let you know until I was sure this would work,” Creem told Bergman, “but I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“What do you mean? What kind of surprise?” Bergman asked.

“Joshua, do you remember Fort Lauderdale?”

There was a long pause on the line before he responded.

“Of course,” he said quietly.

“Spring break, 1988.”

“I said I remembered,” Bergman snapped, but then softened again. “We were just a couple of fetuses then.”

“I know it’s been a while,” Creem said. “But I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’m not ready to just go quietly into the night. Are you?”

“God no,” Bergman said. “But you were the one who—”

“I know what I said. That was a long time ago. This is now.”

Creem heard his friend take a long, slow breath.

“Jesus, Elijah,” he said. “Really?”

He sounded scared, but more than that he sounded excited. Despite the mousy tendencies, Bergman also had a wonderfully twisted streak. He’d always been more excited by the murders than Creem.

For Creem, they’d been cathartic as much as anything else. A means to an end. And this time around, he had a whole new agenda.

“So...this is really happening?” Bergman said.

“It is for me,” Creem told him.

“When?”

“Right now. I’m waiting for her to come outside as we speak.”

“And, can I listen?”

“Of course,” Creem said. “Why do you think I called? But no more talking. Here she comes now.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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