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Cross Fire

Wedding bells ring
Detective Alex Cross and Bree's wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington D.C.'s most corrupt: a dirty congressmen and an underhanded lobbyist. Next, the elusive gunman begins picking off other crooked politicians, sparking a blaze of theories—is the marksman a hero or a vigilante?

A murderer returns
The case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Alex and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, the murders continue. It becomes clear that they are the work of a professional who has detailed knowledge of his victims' movements—information that only a Washington insider could possess.

Caught in a lethal cross fire
As Alex contends with the sniper, Siegel, and the wedding, he receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in D.C. and will not relent until he has eliminated Cross and his family for good. With a supercharged blend of action, deception, and suspense, Cross Fire is James Patterson's most visceral and exciting Alex Cross novel ever.

Part One | SHOOTER READY

Chapter 7

THE SCENE OUTSIDE Taberna del Alabardero was a total zoo when we got there. This was no ordinary hit or rubout. I knew that much without even getting out of the car. The radio had been blaring about a long-distance hit, from a gunman that nobody had seen, firing shots that nobody had heard.

And then there were the victims. Congressman Victor Vinton was dead, along with Craig Pilkey, a well-known banking lobbyist who had recently dragged both of them into the headlines. These homicides were a scandal wrapped in another scandal. So much for quiet times in Homicide.

Both dead men were the subject of a federal inquiry regarding influence-peddling on behalf of the financial services industry. There were allegations about backroom deals and campaign contributions and all the wrong people getting rich — or richer — while middle-class citizens had continued to lose their homes in record numbers. It wasn’t hard to imagine someone wanting Vinton and Pilkey dead. A lot of people probably did.

Still, motivation wasn’t the first question on my mind right now. It was method. Why the long gun, and how did someone pull this off so effortlessly on a crowded city street?

Both bodies were covered on the sidewalk when my buddy John Sampson and I reached the awning in front of the restaurant. Capitol Police were already there, with FBI on the way. “High profile” means “high pressure” in DC, and you could all but cut with a knife the mounting tension inside that yellow perimeter tape.

We found another of our own, Mark Grieco from Third District, and he briefed us. Given all the noise in the street, we had to shout just to hear one another.

“How many witnesses do we have?” Sampson asked.

“At least a dozen,” Grieco told us. “We’ve got them all corralled inside, each one more freaked out than the last. No visual on the shooter, though.”

“What about the shots?” I asked in Grieco’s ear. “We know where they came from?”

He pointed over my shoulder, up Eighteenth Street. “Way over there — if you can believe it. They’re securing the building now.”

On the north corner of K Street, a couple of blocks away, there was a building under some kind of renovation. Every floor was dark except for the top one, where I could just make out people moving around.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. “How far is that?”

“Two hundred fifty yards — maybe more,” Grieco guessed. The three of us started jogging in that direction.

“You said these were head shots?” I asked as we went. “That’s right?”

“Yeah,” Grieco answered grimly. “Dead on, pardon my pun. Someone knew what the hell he was doing. Hope he’s not still around somewhere, watching us.”

“Someone with the right equipment, too,” I said. “Considering the distance.” With a suppressor, the shooter could have gone completely unnoticed.

I heard Sampson say under his breath, “Damn, I hate this thing already.”

I looked back over my shoulder. From this level, I couldn’t even see the restaurant anymore — except for the red-and-blue lights flashing off the buildings around it.

This whole MO — the distance of the shot, the impossible angle, the murders themselves (not one perfect hit, but two in a crowded environment) — was completely audacious. I think we were meant to be impressed — in a strictly professional capacity, I was a little stunned.

But I also had a sinking dread in the pit of my stomach. That ton of bricks I’d been wondering about — it had just fallen.

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Andre Braugher & Jay O. Sanders

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