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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.

Part One | WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW

Chapter 1

IN THE PREDAWN DARKNESS OF APRIL 6, RON GUIDICE SAT BEHIND THE WHEEL of his car, keeping an eye on the house across the way.

Alex Cross’s place was nothing special, really. Just a white three-story clapboard on Fifth Street in Southeast DC. The shutters were ready for a coat of paint. There was a tidy little herb garden on the front stoop.

Cross lived here with his grandmother, his wife, and two of his three children, Janelle and Alex Jr., aka Ali. The oldest Cross child, Damon, was home for spring break, but he spent most of his time at boarding school these days. And there was a foster kid, too. Ava Williams. It wasn’t clear whether she was on track for adoption, or what. Guidice still had some digging to do. He liked to know as much as possible about his subjects.

There were a dozen Metro police officers on his list, and he’d been keeping tabs on all of them, mostly as a point of comparison. But Cross was special. Alex was the one that Guidice wanted to kill.

Just not yet.

Killing a man was easy. Any half-wit with a gun could put a bullet in someone’s head. But really knowing a man—learning his weak spots first, getting to know his vulnerabilities, and taking his life apart, piece by piece? That took some doing.

Meanwhile, whether Cross knew it or not, he had a big day ahead of him.

Guidice watched the front windows, waiting for a light to come on. It wasn’t strictly necessary to spend this much time on a subject, but he enjoyed it. He liked the quiet of the early morning hours, even if it meant just sitting and absorbing the seemingly inconsequential details—the missing chunk of concrete on the stairs, the eco-friendly bulb in the porch light. It was all part of the larger picture, and you never knew which tiny piece might take on some kind of significance in the end. He passed the time scribbling observations into a spiral notebook on his lap.

Then, just after five, a soft stirring came up from the backseat.

“Papa? Is it time to get up?”

“No, sweetheart,” he said. He kept his chin down and his eye on the house. “You can go back to sleep.”

Emma Lee was cuddled up in an army sleeping bag with her favorite Barbie, Cee-Cee. Her pillowcase had Disney’s Cinderella on it. She’d chosen it for the picture of the little helper mice, whom she adored, for whatever reason.

“Will you sing me something?” she asked. “‘Hush, Little Baby’?”

Guidice smiled. She always called songs by their first words.

“‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word,’” he sang quietly. “‘Papa’s going to buy you a mockingbird....’”

The front hall light came on in Alex’s house. Through the frosted glass of the door, Guidice could see the tall, dark shape of the man, descending the stairs.

Guidice continued to take it all down while he sang. “‘If that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring....’”

“A real one?” Emma Lee interrupted. It was the same question, every time. “A real diamond ring?”

“You bet,” he said. “Someday, when you’re older.”

He looked back over his shoulder into the soft, sleepy eyes of his daughter and wondered if it was even possible to love someone more than he did her. Probably not.

“Now go back to sleep, Baby Bear. When you wake up again, we’ll be home.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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