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Mary, Mary

Alex Cross travels to Hollywood to hunt for a brutal killer in his most terrifying case yet.

FBI Agent Alex Cross is on vacation with his family in Disneyland when he gets a call from the Director. A well-known actress was shot outside her home in Beverly Hills. Shortly afterward, an editor for the Los Angeles Times receives an e-mail describing the murder in vivid details. Alex quickly learns that this is not an isolated incident. The killer, known as Mary Smith, has done this before and plans to kill again.

Right from the beginning, this case is like nothing Alex has ever been confronted with before. Is this the plan of an obsessed fan or a spurned actor, or is it part of something much more frightening? Now members of Hollywood's A-list fear they're next on Mary's list, and the case grows by blockbuster proportions as the LAPD and FBI scramble to find a pattern before Mary can send one more chilling update.

Filled with the ruthless and shocking twists that make his fans hunger for more, Mary, Mary is James Patterson's most sophisticated thriller yet.

Chapter 2

YOU THINK YOU CAN KILL again in cold blood? he asked himself many times after the New York murders.

You think you can stop this now that you've started? You think?

The Storyteller waited-almost five months of self-torture, also known as discipline, or professionalism, or maybe cowardice - until it was his time.

Then, he arrived in the kill zone again, and this time it wasn't going to be practice. This was the real deal, and it wasn't a stranger who was going to die.

He was just a face in the crowd at the 3:10 showing of The Village at the Westwood Village Theater in Los Angeles. There were a number of patrons, which was good news for him and, he supposed, for the film's star director, M. Night Shyamalan. What kind of name was that? M. Night? Selfconscious phony.

Apparently Patrice Bennett was among the last people in town to see the horror film. Also, Patrice actually deigned to sit in a real movie theater, with real ticket-buyers, for her movie fix. How quaint was that? Well, she was famous for it, wasn't she? It was Patrice's shtick. She'd even bought her ticket ahead of time, which was how he knew she'd be there.

So this wasn't target practice anymore, and everything had to be just right, and it would be. Never a doubt. The story was already written in his head.

For one thing, he couldn't be spotted by anyone in the theater. So he went to the twelve-o'clock; then, when the show let out, he waited around in a bathroom stall until the 3:10. Nail-biting, nerve-thwacking ordeal, but not that bad really. Especially since if he was spotted, he'd simply abort the mission.

But the Storyteller wasn't seen - at least he didn't think so - and he didn't see anyone he knew.

Now, the theater had more than a hundred viewers, or rather, suspects, right? At least a dozen of them were perfect for his purposes.

Most important - his gun had a silencer now. Something he'd learned from the thrill-packed run-through in New York City.

Patrice sat in the balcony. Works for me, Patsy, he thought. You're being way too thoughtful, especially for you, you berbitch.

He was watching her from across the aisle and a few rows behind. This was so delicious - he wanted the luxurious anticipation of revenge to go on and on. Except that he also wanted to pull the trigger and get the hell out of the Westwood theater before something went wrong. But what could go wrong, right?

When Joaquin Phoenix got stabbed by Adrien Brody, he calmly rose from his seat and went directly to Patrice's aisle. He never hesitated for an instant.

"Excuse me. Sorry," he said, and started to make his way past her, actually over her bare, skinny legs, which weren't very impressive for such an important woman in Hollywood.

"Jesus Christ, will you watch it," she complained, which was just like her, so unnecessarily nasty and imperialsounding.

"Not exactly who you can expect to see next. Not Jesus," he quipped, and wondered if Patrice got his little joke. Probably not. Studio heads didn't get subtlety.

He shot her twice - once in the heart and once right between her totally shocked, blown-away eyes. There was no such thing as too dead when it came to this kind of powermad psycho. Patrice could probably come back at you from the grave, like that reverse trapdoor ending in the original Carrie, Stephen King's first story to reach the silver screen.

Then he made his perfect escape.
Just like in the movies, hey.
The story had begun.

Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez, Melissa Leo, & Michael Louis Wells
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