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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 6

THE RESCUE TEAM USED A HURST TOOL TO CUT THE POSTS FLANKING THE van's windshield and door, then a halogen bar to peel the roof back like a can of sardines. It's amazing to watch, but usually you're rooting for the person trapped inside. Not so much this time. Actually, not at all.

While they lowered in a chain to pull back the engine and get our empty-eyed friend out of there, I tried to get a quick lowdown from the Secret Service agent I'd been speaking with, Clay Findlay.

"So, who are these missing kids?" I asked him, but he just shook his head. He wasn't going to tell me, was he? What was that about? "Listen," I said. "I've had experience on this kind of thing—"

"I know who you are," he said, cutting me off again. "You're Alex Cross. You're MPD."

My reputation precedes me more and more these days, but that can cut both ways. It didn't seem to be helping right now.

"We've already got all MPD units on alert," Findlay said, "so why don't you go check in with your lieutenant. See where he could use you? Obviously, I've got my hands full here. I've had some experience in these quarters, too, Detective."

I didn't like the brush-off. It was a mistake for somebody who claimed to have experience. Every passing minute meant those kids were a little farther out of our reach. Findlay should have known that. Even worse, maybe he did.

"You see that guy?" I said. I pointed over at the driver. They had a protective collar around his neck and were finally making some headway getting him out. "That's an MPD arrest. You understand me? I'm going to talk to him as soon as I can, with or without your involvement. If you want to wait your turn, fine, but just so you know—once they get him to the ER, he's going to be sedated and tubed up for God knows how long. So it might be a while before you get your interview."

Findlay stared hard at me. I watched his jaw work back and forth, heard a cracking noise. He knew I had jurisdiction here, that I had him if I wanted to go that way.

"It's Zoe and Ethan Coyle," he said finally. "You'll hear about it soon enough. They disappeared from the Branaff School about twenty minutes ago."

I was stunned into silence. Knocked back on my heels. The enormity of this—the implications—started to fall on me at once. "What else is happening on your end?" I asked in a lowered voice.

"The school's locked down," Findlay said. "Every available Secret Service agent is either there or on the way."

"Could they still turn up over there?" I asked.

He shook his head. "We'd have found them by now. No way they're still on the campus."

"Any idea how someone could have gotten them out of there?"

Again, he paused. I got the impression he was editing himself as he went forward. The other thing I didn't know yet was that Findlay was lead agent on Ethan and Zoe's protective detail. This was all on his head. The president's children.

"Not really. It just happened," he answered. "There's an underground passage. Used to connect the main house with some of the service buildings. Way back when it was the Branaff Estate. We keep it all closed off now, but kids still break in there sometimes. Smoke a cigarette, grope each other. Believe me, if Ethan and Zoe were in that tunnel before, they aren't anymore."

The van driver was out on a gurney now, hooked up to a nasogastric tube and IV. As they wheeled him to the back of the ambulance and loaded him up, Findlay and I fell in behind the procession.

My badge was out again. So were his creds.

"Hey!" one of the medics yelled at us as we climbed in. "You can't—"

"We're coming with him," I said, and closed the ambulance doors. No further discussion. "Let's go."

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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