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Tick Tock

NYC's #1 detective, Michael Bennett, has a huge problem—the Son of Sam, the Werewolf of Wisteria and the Mad Bomber are all back. The city has never been more terrified!

Tick—a killer's countdown begins, but...
A rash of horrifying crimes tears through the city, throwing it into complete chaos and terrorizing everyone living there. Immediately, it becomes clear that they are not the work of an amateur, but of a calculating, efficient, and deadly mastermind.

Tick—can Michael Bennett catch him before...
The city calls on Detective Michael Bennett, pulling him away from a seaside retreat with his ten adopted children, his grandfather, and their beloved nanny, Mary Catherine. Not only does it tear apart their first vacation since Michael's wife Maeve died—it leaves the entire family open to attack.

Tock—your time is up.
Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker. As his affection for Emily grows into something stronger, his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. All too soon, another appalling crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer's pattern and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan. From the creator of the #1 New York detective series comes the most volatile and most explosive Michael Bennett novel ever.

Book One | DOWN BY THE SEA

Chapter 3

AN HOUR LATER, I was out on the back deck of my ancestral home, working the ancestral grill full-tilt boogie. Dogs on the warming rack. Cheese slices waiting to be applied to the rows of sizzling, freshly ground burgers. Blue smoke in my face, ice-cold bottle of Spaten lager in my hand. We were so close to the water, I could actually hear the rhythmic roll-and-crash of saltwater dropping onto hard-packed sand.

If I leaned back on the creaky rail of the deck and turned to my left, I was actually able to see the Atlantic two blocks to the east. If I turned to the right, to the other side of Jamaica Bay, I could see the sun starting its long descent toward the skyline of Manhattan, where I worked. I hadn't had to look in that direction for over a week now and was praying that it stayed that way until the first of August.

No doubt about it. My world was a fine place and worth fighting for. Maybe not in church parking lots, but still.

I heard something on XM Radio behind me. It was the eighties song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears. I laughed as I remembered dancing to it with Maeve at our wedding. I cranked it. You better believe I was preoccupied with 1985. No Internet. Spiky, gelled hair. Weird Al Yankovic. John Hughes movies. If they build a real hot-tub time machine, I'm going back.

"Bet's to you, Padre," I heard Trent say behind me.

Inside at the kitchen table, a tense game of Irish Riviera Hold 'em was under way. A lot of candy had been trading hands all evening.

"All right, hit me," Seamus said.

"Grandpa, this isn't blackjack," Fiona complained with a giggle.

"Go fish?" Seamus tried.

I thought about what my new young friend Flaherty had said about my multicultural family. It was funny how wrong people got it. My family wasn't a Hollywood social experiment. Our gang had come from my cop cases and from my departed wife Maeve's work as a trauma nurse at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Our children were the survivors of the most horrible circumstances New York City had to offer. Drug addiction, poverty, suicide. Maeve and I were both from big families, but we weren't able to have kids. So we took them in one by one by one. It was as simple and crazy as that.

I turned as Trent opened the sliders to the deck.

I was prepping my father-son sit-down about racist dumb-asses when I saw that he was holding something. It was my work cell, and it was vibrating. I threw a panicked glance back toward the Manhattan skyline. I knew it. Things had been too good for too long, not to mention way too quiet.

"Answer it," I finally said to him, pissed.

"Bennett," Trent said in a deep voice. "Gimme a crime scene."

"Wise guy," I said, snatching the phone out of his hand.

"That wasn't me," I said, turning down the radio. "And you can keep the crime scene."

"Wish I could," my new boss, Inspector Miriam Schwartz, said.

I closed my eyes. Idiot! I knew we should have gone to the Grand Canyon.

"I'm on vacation," I protested.

"We both are, but this is big, Mike. Homeland Security big. Just got off the phone with Manhattan Borough Command. Someone left one hell of a bomb at the main branch of the New York Public Library."

I almost dropped the phone as a pulse of cold crackled down my spine and the backs of my legs. My stomach churned as memories of working down at the World Trade Center pit after 9/11 began to flash before my eyes. Fear, sorrow, useless anger, the end-of-the-world stench of scorched metal in my clothes, in the palms of my hands. Screw that, I thought. Not again. Please.

"A bomb?" I said slowly. "Is it armed?"

"No, thank God. It's disarmed. But it's 'sophisticated as shit,' to quote Paul Cell from Bomb Squad. There was a note with it."

"I hate fucking notes. Was it a sorry one?" I said.

"No such luck, Mike," Miriam said. "It said, 'This wasn't supposed to go boom, but the next one will.' Something like that. The commissioner wants Major Case on this. I need my major player. That's you, Mickey."

"Mickey just left," I groaned. "This is Donald. Can I take a message?"

"They're waiting on you, Mike," my boss urged.

"Yeah, who isn't?" I said, dropping the spatula as my burgers burned.

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Bobby Cannavale & Scott Sowers

Bobby Cannavale was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Mauritius. On television, Bobby won an Emmy for his performance in Will & Grace, Bobby's film credits include The Station Agent, Fast Food Nation, Snakes on a Plane, The Bone Collector, and Washington Heights. He also read Run for Your Life and Worst Case for Hachette Audio.

Scott Sowers' Broadway credits include Bus Stop, A Streetcar Named Desire, Inherit the Wind and A Few Good Men (LA Dramalogue Award for Performance). Scott is a lifetime member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre. His TV credits include HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, Cracker and All My Children. Scott's film credits include True Grit, The Ten, The Village, Dead Man Walking, Erin Brockovich, Magnolia, and My Mother Dreams...(winner, 2000 Academy Award for Short Feature).

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Prologue to Chapter 3
Clip #2
Chapters 4 to 8
Clip #3
Chapters 9 to 13
Clip #4
Chapters 14 to 18
Clip #5
Chapters 19 to 22
Clip #6
Chapters 23 to 26
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