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Cross Country

A MURDERER OF ASTOUNDING CRUELTY
Detective Alex Cross is called to the worst murder scene he has encountered in all his years on the force. Someone with less than zero regard for human life has slaughtered a family–and then more killings, each one more ruthless than the last, quickly follow. One of those death comes terrifyingly close to home, and Alex realizes that he is chasing a horrible new breed of killer.

A CITY IN CHAOS
As Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, dig deeper into the case, they become entangled in the deadly African underworld of Washington DC. What they discover there is so shocking that they can barely comprehend it: a strongly organized gang of teenage thugs headed by a diabolical warlord known only as the Tiger. When the elusive killer's trail turns up in Africa, Alex knows that he must follow. Alone.

ALEX CROSS TRACKS A KILLER CROSS COUNTRY
When Alex arrives in Nigeria, he discovers a world where justice is as foreign as he is. Unprotected and alone in a strange country, bombarded on all sides by the murderous threats of the Tiger, can Alex manage to both survive and catch the killer? From the #1 bestselling author James Patterson comes Cross Country-the most heart-stopping, speed-charged, electrifying Alex Cross thriller ever.

Prologue | Home Invasion
One

GEORGETOWN, WASHINGTON, DC

The surname of the family was Cox, the father a very successful trial lawyer, but the target was the mother, Ellie Randall Cox. The timing was right now, tonight, just minutes away. The payday was excellent, couldn't be better.

The six-foot-six, two-hundred-fifty-pound killer known as "the Tiger" had given out guns to his team–also a gram of cocaine to share, and the only instruction they would need tonight: The mother is mine. Kill the rest.

His secondary mission was to scare the American meddlers. He knew how they felt about home invasions, and their precious families, and murders in cold blood. They had so many rules for how life ought to be conducted. The secret to beating them was to break all their silly, sacred rules.

He settled down to watch the house from the street. Wood blinds in the first- floor windows drew horizontal lines across the family members as they moved around inside, unaware of the murderous forces gathered outside.

The boys waited restlessly at the Tiger's side, and he waited for instinct to tell him it was time to move on the house.

"Now," he said, "we go!"

Then, with only the slightest bend and whack of the knees, he began to run, breaking out of the camouflaging shadow of an evergreen, his strides almost too fast to count.

A single, powerful leap and he was up on the stoop of the house. Next came three splintering blows to the front door. It seemed to explode open, and they were inside, the kill team, all five of them.

The boys, none older than seventeen, streamed in around him, firing Berettas into the living room ceiling, waving crude hunting knives, shouting orders that were hard to understand because their English was not at the level of the Tiger's.

The children of the house screamed like little piglets; their lawyer father leapt up and tried to shield them with his flabby, overfed body.

"You are pitiful!" the Tiger shouted at him. "You can't even protect your family in your own house."

Soon enough, three family members were corralled against the living room mantel, which was covered with birthday cards addressed to "Momma" and "My Darling Ellie" and "Sweetness and Light."

The leader nudged the youngest of his boys forward, the one who had chosen the name Nike and who had a contagious sense of humor. "Just do it," the Tiger said.

The boy was eleven years old and fearless as a crocodile in a muddy river. He raised a pistol much larger than his own hand and fired it into the shivering father's forehead.

The other boys howled their approval, shooting off rounds in all directions, overturning antique furniture, breaking mirrors and windows. The Cox children were weeping and holding one another.

One particularly scary, blank-faced boy in a Houston Rockets jersey emptied his magazine into the wide-screen television, then reloaded. "Rock da house!" he shouted.

Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson

Read by Dion Graham & Jay O. Sanders

Dion Graham appears on HBO's The Wire and narrates A&E's The First 48. An award-winning and critically acclaimed actor and narrator he has performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, internationally, in films, and in several hit television series.

Jay O. Sanders attended the acting conservatory at The State University of New York at Purchase. He began his career off-Broadway in Shakespearean roles in Henry V, Measure for Measure, and Twelfth Night. Jay has narrated more than fifty audiobooks and has appeared in several films, including Half Nelson and The Day After Tomorrow.

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