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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.

Chapter 3

ONE OF THE printing techs moved to help me, but I got myself up quickly. I wondered if maybe I was in shock about Ellie. "No harm. I'm fine. What's the name here again?" I asked the tech.

"Cox, sir. Reeve, Eleanor, and James are the victims in the living room."

Eleanor Cox. That was right; I remembered now. I stared down at Ellie, my heart racing out of control, tears starting at the corners of my eyes. She had been Ellie Randall when I met her, a smart, attractive history major looking for antiapartheid signatures from Georgetown University students. Definitely not someone whose story would end like this.

"Need anything?" Fescoe was back and he was hovering.

"Just...get me a garbage bag or something," I told him. "Please. Thank you."

I peeled off my Windbreaker and tried to wipe myself with it, then stuck the coat in the bag Fescoe brought me. I needed to keep moving and to get out of this room, at least for now.

I headed toward the stairs and found Bree just coming down.

"Alex? Jesus, what happened to you?" she asked.

I knew if I started to explain, I wouldn't be able to finish. "We'll talk about it later, okay?" I said. "What's going on upstairs?"

She looked at me strangely but didn't push it. "More of the same. Bad stuff. Third floor, Alex. Two more kids. I think they were trying to hide from the killers, but it didn't work."

A photo flash ghosted the stairwell as we climbed. Everything seemed hallucinogenic and unreal to me. I was outside the scene, watching myself stumble through it. Ellie had been murdered. I tried again but couldn't process the thought.

"No blood on the stairs, or in the hall," I noticed, trying to focus on evidence, trying to do the job. It was freezing cold, with a hatch door open overhead. November third, and the forecast was for single-digit temperatures overnight. Even the weather had gone a little crazy.

"Alex?"

Bree was waiting up ahead, standing at the doorway to a room on the third floor. She didn't move as I approached. "You sure you're okay to be here?" she asked, speaking low so the others wouldn't hear.

I nodded and peered into the room.

Behind Bree, the two little girls' bodies were crisscrossed on an oval rag rug. A white canopy bed was broken into pieces, collapsed in on itself as if someone had jumped too hard on it.

"I'll be fine," I said. "I need to see what happened here. I need to begin to understand what it all means. Like who the hell was jumping on that bed?"

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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