NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan's wealthiest and most powerful citizens. When a world-famous movie producer is poisoned on the first day of a Manhattan film festival called Hollywood on the Hudson, they are the first ones called. Then an actor is killed on the set of a film. And a Molotov cocktail explodes at a movie premiere.
Detective First Grade Zach Jordan and his new partner—and ex-girlfriend—Detective Kylie MacDonald are assigned to the case. The killer has every murder, every escape, planned down to the last detail—and he's scripted an explosive finale that will bring New York and Hollywood to its knees. With larger-than-life action, relentless speed, and white-knuckle twists, NYPD RED is a mega-blockbuster from "The Man Who Can't Miss." (TIME)
BOOK ONE | THERE’S NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE
I WOKE UP angry as hell. It was still pitch-black except for the glowing 3:14 on the digital clock. I would have liked to catch another three hours, but the only sleep aid I had in the apartment was the loaded revolver on my night table, and I’d much rather have used that on the dumb son of a bitch who put my partner in the hospital.
I turned on the light. There was a rolled-up purple yoga mat under the dresser, and I decided thirty minutes of sukhasanas and downward-facing dogs would stretch my muscles and ease my stress.
By 4:15 I was showered, dressed, and nursing a cup of green tea. It’s not my drug of choice, but Erika, my yoga instructor, swears it will heal my chakras and help my body handle the physical and psychological pressures of life. I told her I’d give it a shot for a month. But only behind closed doors. If anybody at work even smelled tea leaves on my breath, I’d get laughed off the job.
I’m Detective First Grade Zach Jordan, NYPD.
There are thirty-five thousand cops in New York City, and I’m one of the lucky seventy-five assigned to the High-Profile Victims Response Team.
The unit was our mayor’s idea. He’s a hardcore business guy who believes running a big city is like running an airline— you cater to your Platinum Frequent Flyers. In New York that means the superrich, the supremely powerful, and the ridiculously famous.
Every day I get to serve and protect Wall Street billionaires; sports stars with seven-figure contracts; and the movers, shakers, and divas of show business. That last group keeps us the busiest. Probably because most of them are either so desirable they’re stalked, so rich they’re robbed, or so despicable they’re murdered.
Of course the name High-Profile Victims Response Team practically screams out that we have a special task force dedicated to the needs of the city’s crème de la crème. True, but politically damaging. So the mayor has asked—make that ordered—us not to use it.
They call us NYPD Red. And for a cop in New York, it’s the ultimate cool job.
My tea had gone cold, so I added sugar and put it in the microwave. Thirty seconds later it was hotter and sweeter, but it was still tea. I sat down at my computer and checked my email. There was one from Omar. All it said was Hey, Zach—today’s the BIG DAY. Break a leg. LOL. Omar.
I hit Reply and wrote back. I’m glad one of us thinks this is funny.
Omar Shanks is—make that was—my partner, until last week. The NYPD softball team was playing the fire department in our annual fund-raiser when some asshole fireman slid into second trying to break up a double play. What he broke was Omar’s left ankle, and he tore up his ACL. According to the docs, Omar will be off the grid for at least four months. So this morning I’m getting a new partner.
Her name is Kylie MacDonald, and we’ve got something most partners don’t have. Baggage. More than I want to get into now, but I can offer a snapshot.
It was my first day at the academy. I was sizing up the other recruits when a tan, golden-haired goddess walked out of a Beach Boys song and into the room. There was a defibrillator on the wall, and I was pretty sure I was going to need it. She was too beautiful to be a cop. She’d do much better as a cop’s wife. Mine.
At least half a dozen guys had the same thought, and in seconds she was in the middle of a sea of testosterone. I ignored her on the theory that girls like Kylie are more attracted to guys who don’t fawn, pant, or drool. It took a week, but it worked.
“I’m Kylie MacDonald,” she said to me one day after class. “We haven’t met.”
I grunted. “Yeah. I’ve been avoiding you.”
“The one you wore the first day. The one with the Mets logo.”
“Let me guess,” she said. “You’re a Yankees fan.”
“Die-hard and lifelong,” I said.
“I wish I’d known,” she said. “I’d have worn my Yankees T-shirt for you.”
“I seriously doubt you have a Yankees shirt,” I said.
“Five bucks says I do.”
She took out her cell phone and scrolled through the photos. Finally she found the one she was looking for and handed me the phone.
It was a picture of Kylie and an annoyingly good-looking guy who had his arm around her. He was wearing a Mets hat, and sure enough Kylie was wearing a T-shirt that said “Yankees” right across the front. And right below “Yankees,” it said “Suck.”
“Pay up,” she said.
Beautiful and smart. How could I not fall in love with her?
I gave her the five bucks. What happened after that is a long story filled with laughter and tears, happiness and heartbreak. Like I said—baggage that I’d rather save for another time. But I can explain how it ended. Big church wedding. Kylie and Spence Harrington—the guy in the cell phone picture.
That was almost ten years ago. Now Kylie and I are about to team up. It’s never easy breaking in a new partner. Even harder when you’re still hopelessly in love with her.
And that, if you haven’t already figured it out by now, is what woke me up in the middle of the night.
I dumped half a cup of green tea into the sink. To hell with my chakras. I needed coffee.
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Edoardo Ballerini is an actor and an award-winning audiobook narrator. On screen, he's best known for his working the television series The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and 24. Edoardo was nominated for a 2012 Audie Award for his recording of The Land of Laughs. AudioFile Magazine named him one of the "Best Voices of 2011."
Jay Snyder has performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, film, and works regularly in the voice-over industry.