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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 10

AFTER I GAVE MY STATEMENT AT THE HOSPITAL, I HEADED BACK TO THE Branaff School. I called Bree and told her what had happened and that I'd miss dinner. She got it, which is the nice thing about being married to another cop.

A solid double line of MPD cruisers was parked up and down Wisconsin Avenue when I got there. This was as bad a crime scene as I'd ever witnessed.

The press had already been cordoned off behind a row of blue police barriers, and I saw a group of what looked like very concerned parents and a few nanny or housekeeper types waiting closer in toward the main gate. Some students were crying.

There wouldn't be any official statements for several hours, if at all, but that wasn't going to stop people from figuring out what had happened. The whole scene was barely contained chaos. Something terrible had obviously gone down here and none of us knew the full extent of it yet.

"Catch me up," I said to one of the uniforms lined across the sidewalk. "What's going on? Anything in the last hour?"

"All I know is what you can see right here," he told me. "MPD's on street security. But FBI's got the whole school locked down tight."

"Who's the lead agent on campus?" I said, but the cop just shook his head.

"Nobody's going in, Detective, and the only ones coming out are kids and parents. They're literally clearing them one by one. They're even detaining the teachers. I wouldn't hold my breath for intel."

I left the officer alone to do his job, and I got on the phone instead. For several months now, I'd been the police department's liaison to the FBI's Field Intelligence Group. I figured that had to be worth some kind of ticket inside.

But I figured wrong. Every line I tried at the Directorate of Intelligence went straight to voice mail.

Same deal with Ned Mahoney, who was a good friend at the Bureau. They were all probably on the other side of that damn school fence right now. Maybe even Ned was there. It was crazy-making.

The worst of it was worrying about Ethan and Zoe Coyle and what they might be going through while I was out here spinning my wheels. The first twenty-four hours after a kidnapping are absolutely crucial and I didn't think the Secret Service would make all the right decisions.

So I did what I could. I started walking. Maybe I wouldn't get onto campus, but I could get a feel for the school perimeter, including any possible exit points the kidnapper—or kidnappers— might have used.

I also kept working the phones while I walked. I put in a call to MPD's Command Information Center. I finally got through to somebody. "CIC, this is Sergeant O'Mara."

"Bud, it's Alex Cross. I need to get a couple of disks burned, ASAP. I'm looking for everything we've got in a two-block radius around the Branaff School. From five to eleven this morning."

Washington's metro surveillance isn't state of the art, like London's, but we are ahead of the curve, nationally speaking. We've got cameras at intersections all over the city; maybe one of them had picked something up.

"You want me to have someone drop these off at headquarters when they're ready?" O'Mara asked.

"No, I'll swing by and get them myself," I said. "Thanks, Bud."

I turned off my phone when I hung up. I didn't want anyone calling and telling me where to be today. If I played it right, I could pick up the disks, spend some time going over them at home, and not show my face at the office until the next morning. I'd learned a long time ago that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Maybe I was just flattering myself—or even lying to myself. Maybe there was nothing I could do on this that the Bureau or Secret Service wasn't already covering. But I'd worry about that after the first twenty-four hours.

Finally though, around six, I gave up and went on home. Obviously nobody needed my help here. I didn't like it, but what I thought didn't matter. The president's kids were missing.

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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