Little, Brown and Company
It's Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who's robbing his church's poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again—a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything—and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices. MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX CROSS will be a holiday classic for years to come.
Little, Brown and Company
Book One | MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX
THE SOUNDS OF THE SIX RAPID-FIRE GUNSHOTS RANG IN MY SKULL.
Six hostages, I thought. Was it over? Were we looking for bodies?
And then we heard the hysterical cries of children. “Daddy, no!”
They were quickly drowned out by an angry and ugly voice blaring over the speakers in the van: “I could have taken out every one of these sad excuses for humanity, each and every one of these sad pieces of shit. But I didn’t. You know why? Because you don’t unwrap your presents on Christmas Eve. You wait until the high holy day of consumerism to do that. Isn’t that right? Well, not this time, folks! I just unwrapped them all!”
Fowler started laughing like a happy madman.
“Please, Daddy!” a girl’s voice sobbed. Chloe Fowler.
“Please what?” Fowler snarled. “‘Please don’t shoot Barbie, Daddy? If you shoot Barbie, who will Ken love, Daddy?’”
A male voice was then heard. Dr. Nicholson. “You’re terrifying her, Fowler. She’s your own daughter.”
“No!” Fowler snorted derisively. “Is that right, Barry? You know everything, don’t you, Barry? Mr. Optometrist—fucking cash-flow doctor of the year.”
A gun blasted. We heard glass breaking and more crying.
Fowler was shouting. “See that? See that, Mr. Optometrist? Shut the hell up, Mr. Optometrist! Or you’re going to look just like everything else under the Christmas tree.” He began to sing: “‘O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!’”
“Mr. Fowler!” Ramiro yelled into his phone.
“‘How lovely are thy branches!’” Fowler sang, and then he stopped. We heard footsteps. The phone was picked up.
Fowler whispered, “What did old Henry the magic man and his magic wand take out, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? Anyone? Anyone?”
He paused. McGoey, Nu, and Ramiro glanced at me, confused. Before I could even think about how to interpret Fowler’s ravings, he said, “Awww, let’s see. A nice new iPad. Got it right in the apple...and here we have what used to be an Xbox Kinect. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, plaintiff should be thanking me, not suing me. Now my idiot sons will have more time for homework. And my ex-wife’s Tiffany bauble? I mean, c’mon, have you ever seen such overpriced crap? There ought to be a law against Tiffany and Nordstrom. I mean, look at that beautiful blue polo sweater of Barry’s. Cashmere does not stop buckshot, now, does it, ladies and gentlemen?”
Fowler stopped talking. All we could hear was his rushed breath, and I wondered if he was on drugs or drinking or both.
“Hey, Mr. Fowler,” Ramiro said calmly, carefully, almost softly—the way they teach you in the FBI courses about hostage negotiation.
“Who the hell are you?” Fowler shot back.
“My name is Ramiro. I’m glad to hear that the people you’ve got in there are okay. That’s good news.”
Fowler exploded: “What are you, another whiny-ass cop? These people in here are not doing okay, Officer Whiny Ass. Once the sun rises and all the Cindy Lou Whos down in Whoville have sung their song, I’m going to blow their heads off once and for all.”
The children began to cry again.
Ramiro glanced at me. I made a downward motion with my hands. Stay calm. Do everything calm.
“I understand what you’re saying, Mr. Fowler,” Ramiro said. “How about we talk, work things out?” Good, I thought. Calmly engage him. Establish common ground.
“You some kind of hostage negotiator?” Fowler asked.
Ramiro hesitated. Not a good thing. He said, “I’m just a guy who wants to hear what you have to say, Mr. Fowler.”
“Tell it to the jury, whiny ass!” Fowler shouted. “I am never talking to you ever again. Ever.”
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Read by Michael Boatman, Stephen Kunken & Cristin Milioti
Michael Boatman is an Image Award-nominated American actor and writer. He is best known for his roles as U.S. Army Specialist Samuel Beckett in the drama series China Beach, as New York City mayoral aide Carter Heywood in the sitcom Spin City, and as sports agent Stanley Babson in the comedy series Arli$$.
Stephen Kunken is an American actor, best known for his work in theatre. His Broadway credits include Frost/Nixon, Rock 'n' Roll, and Enron, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Featured Actor in a Play.
Cristin Milioti is currently starring in her Tony nominated role as 'Girl' in the Broadway smash hit musical Once. The critically acclaimed show has won numerous accolades along with eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Milioti's next project is the upcoming Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street where she plays opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Recent roles include a hilarious turn on 30 Rock as the sexy, baby-voiced writer, "Abby Flynn," and the straight laced sister of Mike Birbiglia's character in the recent indie hit Sleepwalk with Me.
Little, Brown and Company