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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 4

WE LAID THE GIRL OUT AS CAREFULLY AS WE COULD ON THE FLOOR OF THE apartment, and left the rope around her neck. As long as she was out of the public eye, that’s all I needed. The rest I could leave to the investigation.

Her name was Elizabeth Reilly. According to the driver’s license I found in a purse by the front door, she was just two weeks shy of turning twenty-one. The apartment had all the signs of someone who lived alone, from the Lean Cuisines in the freezer to the single towel and washrag hanging neatly in the bathroom.

Obviously there was more to the story here, but I wasn’t seeing it yet.

When the ME did arrive I was glad to see it was Joan Bradbury. Joan’s an easygoing, sixty-something Texan. As far as I knew, she never came to work in anything but top-stitched cowboy boots, even after twenty years in DC. She’s opinionated, but also easy to work with, and didn’t give me any big lectures when she saw what I’d done with the body. Joan has four daughters of her own; I think she instinctively got it.

While she started her initial exam, I got our team of investigators out knocking on doors, especially across the street. This hanging had gone down in broad daylight. Someone had to have seen something.

I also got some more info from Sergeant Huizenga on our victim. Elizabeth Reilly had been a nursing student at Radians College on Vermont Avenue until the previous December, when she’d dropped out. There was no word yet on recent employment, but other than one unpaid parking ticket her record was squeaky clean.

By the time I got back to Joan, they were ready to wrap and bag the body for transport to the morgue.

“I’m going to need a full autopsy,” she told me, “but I’m thinking this girl was dead before she went out the window. Maybe strangled with the same rope.”

She reached down and pointed at some dark, purplish marks on Elizabeth Reilly’s lower neck.

“You see these contusions? These are all consistent with manual strangulation. But up here, higher, where the rope caught her? Just faint bruising. If there was any blood flow when she was actually hanged, those marks would be darker.”

I rocked back on my heels and ran a hand over the bottom of my face.

“This is what I was afraid of,” I said.

“There’s more, Alex.”

Normally Joan was pretty matter-of-fact, even at the roughest scenes, but there was a tightness in her voice I’d never heard before. This one was getting to her.

“The abdomen’s still flaccid, and she’s got obvious striations around her midsection and breasts,” she told me. “As far as I can make out, our girl here had a baby recently. And, Lord help me, I mean recently.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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