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Kill Alex Cross

The President's son and daughter are abducted, and Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene. But someone very high-up is using the FBI, Secret Service, and CIA to keep him off the case and in the dark.

A deadly contagion in the water supply cripples half of the capital, and Alex discovers that someone may be about to unleash the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced.

As his window for solving both crimes narrows, Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes—one that may alter the fate of the entire country. KILL ALEX CROSS is faster, more exciting, and more tightly wound than any Alex Cross thriller James Patterson has ever written!

Book One | UNACCOUNTED FOR

Chapter 1

IT BEGAN WITH PRESIDENT COYLE'S CHILDREN, ETHAN AND ZOE, BOTH high-profile personalities since they had arrived in Washington, and probably even before that.

Twelve-year-old Ethan Coyle thought he had gotten used to living under the microscope and in the public eye. So Ethan hardly noticed anymore the news cameramen perpetually camped outside the Branaff School gates, and he didn't worry the way he used to if some kid he didn't know tried to snap his picture in the hall, or the gymnasium, or even the boys' bathroom.

Sometimes, Ethan even pretended he was invisible. It was kind of babyish, kind of b.s., but who cared. It helped. One of the more personable Secret Service guys had actually suggested it. He told Ethan that Chelsea Clinton used to do the same thing. Who knew if that was true?

But when Ethan saw Ryan Townsend headed his way that morning, he only wished he could disappear.

Ryan Townsend always had it in for him, and that wasn't just Ethan's paranoia talking. He had the purplish and yellowing bruises to prove it—the kind that a good hard punch or muscle squeeze can leave behind.

"Wuzzup, Coyle the Boil?" Townsend said, charging up on him in the hall with that look on his face. "The Boil havin' a bad day already?"

Ethan knew better than to answer his tormenter and torturer. He cut a hard left toward the lockers instead—but that was his first mistake. Now there was nowhere to go, and he felt a sharp, nauseating jab to the side of his leg. He'd been kicked! Townsend barely even slowed down as he passed. He called these little incidents "drive-bys."

The thing Ethan didn't do was yell out, or stumble in pain. That was the deal he'd made with himself: don't let anyone see what you're feeling inside.

Instead, he dropped his books and knelt down to pick them back up again. It was a total wuss move, but at least he could take the weight off his leg for a second without letting the whole world know he was Ryan Townsend's punching and kicking dummy.

Except this time, someone else did see—and it wasn't the Secret Service.

Ethan was stuffing graph paper back into his math folder when he heard a familiar voice.

"Hey, Ryan? Wuzzup with you?"

He looked up just in time to see his fourteen-year-old sister, Zoe, stepping right into Townsend's path.

"I saw that," she said. "You thought I wouldn't?"

Townsend cocked his head of blond curls to the side. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about. Why don't you just mind your own—"

Out of nowhere, a heavy yellow textbook came up fast in both of Zoe's hands.

She swung hard, and clocked Townsend with it, right across the middle of his face. The bully's nose spurted red and he stumbled backward. It was great!

That was as far as things progressed before Secret Service got to them. Agent Findlay held Zoe back, and Agent Musgrove wedged himself between Ethan and Townsend. A crowd of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders had already stopped to watch, like this was some new reality TV show—The President's Kids.

"You total losers!" Townsend shouted at Ethan and Zoe, even as blood dripped down over his Branaff tie and white button-down shirt. "What a couple of chumps. You need your loyal SS bodyguards to protect you!"

"Oh yeah? Tell that to my algebra book," Zoe yelled back. "And stay away from my brother! You're bigger and older than him, you jerk. You shithead!"

For his part, Ethan was still hovering by the lockers, half of his stuff scattered on the floor. And for a second or two there, he found himself pretending he was part of the crowd—just some kid nobody had ever heard of, standing there, watching all of this craziness happen to someone else.

Yeah, Ethan thought. Maybe in my next lifetime.

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Andre Braugher & Zach Grenier

Andre Braughner is an Emmy-award and Obie-award winning actor. His most recent film and television credits include Salt, Passengers, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Men of a Certain Age. Born and raised in Chicago, he earned A BA from Stanford University and an MFA from Juilliard.

Zach Grenier’s film credits include Fight Club, Zodiac, Ride With the Devil, and Twister. He has appeared on such television series as The Good Wife, Deadwood, and 24. Most notable among his stage credits is the Broadway production of 33 Variations.

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