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Four Blind Mice

Alex Cross returns in the most harrowing case of his career-one that risks the life of his closest friend and partner, John Sampson.

Detective Alex Cross is on his way to resign from the Washington, D.C., Police Force when his partner shows up at his door with a case he can't refuse. One of John Sampson's oldest friends, from their days together in Vietnam, has been arrested for murder. Worse yet, he is subject to the iron hand of the United States Army. The evidence against him is strong enough to send him to the gas chamber.

Sampson is certain his friend has been framed, and Alex's investigation turns up evidence overlooked-or concealed-by the military authorities. Drawing on their years of street training and an almost telepathic mutual trust, Cross and Sampson go deep behind military lines to confront the most terrifying-and deadly-killers they have ever encountered. Behind these three highly skilled killing machines there appears to be an even more threatening controller. Discovering the identity of this lethal genius will prove to be Cross's most terrifying challenge ever.

On his visits home, Alex must confront another, more harrowing mystery: what's the matter with Nana Mama? As he explores the possibility of a new relationship with a woman who offers him new hope, Alex must also confront the fact that his beloved grandmother is only human.

The return of Alex Cross in Four Blind Mice also marks James Patterson's arrival at dazzling new heights of mind-bending suspense, explosive action, and lightning-fast plot twists. It is sure to be acclaimed as the best novel yet from the author the Associated Press says "writes thrillers as if he were building roller coasters."

Part One: THE LAST CASE

CHAPTER 3

I CAME DOWN to breakfast about seven that morning and joined Nana and the kids around the kitchen table. With Little Alex starting to walk, things were back in "lockdown" mode in the kitchen. Plastic safety locks, latches, and outlet caps were everywhere. The sounds of kid chatter, spoons clattering in cereal bowls, and Damon coaching his baby brother in the art of blowing raspberries, made the kitchen almost as noisy as a precinct house on a Saturday night.

The kids were eating some kind of puffed-up chocolate- flavored Oreos cereal and Hershey's chocolate milk. Just the thought of all that chocolate at seven in the morning made me shiver. Nana and I had eggs over easy and twelve-grain toast.

"Now isn't this nice," I said as I sat down to my coffee and eggs. "I'm not even going to spoil it by commenting on the chocoholic breakfast two of my precious children are eating for their morning's nourishment."

"You just did comment," said Jannie, never at a loss. I winked at her. She couldn't spoil my mood today. The killer known as the Mastermind had been captured and was now spending his days at a maximum-security prison in Colorado. My twelve-year-old, Damon, continued to blossom — as a student as well as a singer with the Washington Boys' Choir. Jannie had taken up oil painting, and she was keeping a journal that contained some pretty good scribbling, and cartoons, for a girl her age. Little Alex's personality was beginning to emerge — he was a sweet boy, just starting to walk at thirteen months.

I had met a woman detective recently, Jamilla Hughes, and I wanted to spend more time with her. The problem was that she lived in California and I lived in D.C. Not insurmountable, I figured.

I would have some time to find out about Jamilla and me. Today was the day I planned to meet with Chief of Detectives George Pittman and resign from the D.C. police. After I resigned, I planned to take a couple of months off.

Then I might go into private practice as a psychologist, or possibly hook up with the FBI. The Bureau had made me an offer that was flattering as well as intriguing.

There was a loud rap at the kitchen door. Then it opened. John Sampson was standing there. He knew what I was planning to do today, and I figured he'd come by to show me some support.

Sometimes I am so gullible, it makes me a little sick.

Copyright © 2002 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez & Michael Emerson
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