James Patterson returns to the genre that made him famous with a thrilling teen detective series about the mysterious and magnificently wealthy Angel family...and the dark secrets they're keeping from one another.
On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: 1) She was the last person to see her parents alive. 2) The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 3) She can't trust anyone—maybe not even herself. Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud's intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs is a dangerous-and revealing-game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?
Can you imagine the words you’d use, dear reader, to tell your family that your parents had been murdered? I hope so, because I’m not going to be able to share those wretched moments with you right now. We’re just getting to know each other, and I take a little bit of time to warm up to people. Can you be patient with me? I promise it’ll be worth the wait.
After I’d completed that horrible task—perhaps the worst task of my life—I tried to focus my fractured attention back on Sergeant Capricorn Caputo. He was a rough-looking character, like a bad cop in a black-and-white film from the forties who smoked unfiltered cigarettes, had stained fingers, and was coughing up his lungs on his way to the cemetery.
Caputo looked to be about thirty-five years old. He had one continuous eyebrow, a furry ledge over his stony black eyes. His thin lips were set in a short, hard line. He had rolled up the sleeves of his shiny blue jacket, and I noted a zodiac sign tattooed on his wrist.
He looked like exactly the kind of detective I wanted to have working on the case of my murdered parents.
Gnarly and mean.
Detective Hayes was an entirely different cat. He had a basically pleasant, faintly lined face and wore a wedding ring, an NYPD Windbreaker, and steel-tipped boots. He looked sympathetic to us kids, sitting in a stunned semicircle around him. But Detective Hayes wasn’t in charge, and he wasn’t doing the talking.
Caputo stood with his back to our massive fireplace and coughed into his fist. Then he looked around the living room with his mouth wide open.
He couldn’t believe how we lived.
And I can’t say I blame him.
He took in the eight-hundred-gallon aquarium coffee table with the four glowing pygmy sharks swimming circles around their bubbler.
His jaw dropped even farther when he saw the life-size merman hanging by its tail from a bloody hook and chain in the ceiling near the staircase.
He sent a glance across the white-lacquered grand piano, which we called “Pegasus” because it looked like it had wings.
And he stared at Robert, who was slumped over in a La-Z-Boy with a can of Bud in one hand and a remote control in the other, just watching the static on his TV screen.
Robert is a remarkable creation. He really is. It’s next to impossible to tell that he, his La-Z-Boy, and his very own TV are all part of an incredibly lifelike, technologically advanced sculpture. He was cast from a real person, then rendered in polyvinyl and an auto-body filler composite called Bondo. Robert looks so real, you half expect him to crunch his beer can against his forehead and ask for another cold one.
“What’s the point of this thing?” Detective Caputo asked.
“It’s an artistic style called hyperrealism,” I responded.
“Hyper-real, huh?” Detective Caputo said. “Does that mean ‘over-the-top’? Because that’s kind of a theme in this family, isn’t it?”
No one answered him. To us, this was home.
When Detective Caputo was through taking in the décor, he fixed his eyes on each of us in turn. We just blinked at him. There were no hysterics. In fact, there was no apparent emotion at all.
“Your parents were murdered,” he said. “Do you get that? What’s the matter? No one here loved them?”
We did love them, but it wasn’t a simple love. To start with, my parents were complicated: strict, generous, punishing, expansive, withholding. And as a result, we were complicated, too. I knew all of us felt what I was feeling—an internal tsunami of horror and loss and confusion. But we couldn’t show it. Not even to save our lives.
Of course, Sergeant Caputo didn’t see us as bereaved children going through the worst day of our tender young lives. He saw us as suspects, every one of us a “person of interest” in a locked-door double homicide.
He didn’t try to hide his judgment, and I couldn’t fault his reasoning.
I thought he was right.
My parents’ killer was in that room.
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Emma Galvin is a recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. Her films include My Suicidal Sweetheart, A Perfect Fit, and The Big Bad Swim. She has performed in several regional theatre productions including Love Punky, The Power of Birds, and The Realm.