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Hope to Die

Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross's family—his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children—have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Widely praised by the greatest crime and thriller writers of our time, Cross My Heart set a jaw-dropping story in motion. Hope to Die propels Alex Cross's greatest challenge to its astonishing finish, proving why Jeffery Deaver says "nobody does it better" than James Patterson.

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Part One | SIXTEEN DAYS EARLIER...

Chapter 2

IN A NORMAL YEAR the murder rate in Washington, DC, waits for the stifling days of summer to peak. In July and August, when the air along the Potomac is the consistency and temperature of a rabid dog’s mouth, people just seem to snap left and right. In my line of work you come to expect it.

But beginning with the terrorist attack at Union Station on New Year’s Day, there had been a steady run of homicides through the winter and on into spring. It was barely April, but this was shaping up already as one of the worst years in three decades for homicide in the District of Columbia.

That had put enormous political pressure on the mayor and the city council, which meant the Metro police chief, too, was under enormous pressure. But the squeeze was especially tight around the homicide and major case squads. Since I was now a roaming investigator for both teams, the nonstop murders meant the biggest squeeze had been put on me and on my partner and closest friend, John Sampson.

We had not had a day off in nearly two months, and our caseload seemed to grow every day. To make it worse, I was fielding calls from a contractor who was about to remodel the kitchen and put an addition on our house. So the last person I wanted to see around nine thirty that Thursday morning was Captain Roelof Antonius Quintus, who ran Homicide.

Captain Quintus knocked on the door of my office, where I’d been finishing up a breakfast burrito and a second cup of coffee while looking at a cabinet hardware catalog my wife had shoved into my hand as I left home. Sampson, a locomotive of a man, was on the couch, devouring the last of his morning meal.

Sampson saw Quintus and groaned. “Not another one?”

Quintus shook his head. “I just need an update to take to the chief. The mayor’s out of her mind and hounding him nonstop.”

“We cleared three this week, but you handed us four,” I replied. “So the takeaway is that we’re making progress but falling behind.”

“Sounds about right,” Sampson said. “Like that king in mythology who keeps pushing the boulder up the hill, only it keeps falling down.”

“Sisyphus,” I said.

“Like him,” Sampson said, pointing at me.

“C’mon, Cross,” Quintus said. “We’re counting on you to put some of the higher-profile cases like Rawlins and Kimmel to bed, get the Post off our backs. Did you see that goddamned editorial?”

I had. Just that morning they’d run a piece that described the effect the murders were having on tourism, called for the police chief to resign, and floated a proposal to have the FBI take over the department until the murder rate could be lowered.

“Tell you what, Captain,” I said. “You tell people to stop killing each other, and we’ll have more time to work on cases like Rawlins and Kimmel.”

“Funny.”

“I wasn’t joking.”

“No, really, you should try stand-up at open-mike night, Cross,” Quintus said, turning to leave. “I think you may have missed your calling.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

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Read by Michael Boatman & Tom Wopat

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