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Private Games

Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

The opening ceremony is still hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It's clear that it wasn't a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won't stop until he's ended the games for good. "America's #1 storyteller" (Forbes) delivers an exhilarating, action-packed thriller that brings the splendor and emotion of the Olympics to a wildly powerful climax.

Prologue

One

WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 2012, 11:25 P.M.

THERE ARE SUPERMEN and superwomen who walk this earth.

I'm quite serious about that, and you can take me literally. Jesus Christ, for example, was a spiritual superman, as were Martin Luther and Gandhi. Julius Caesar was superhuman as well. So were Genghis Khan, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Adolf Hitler.

Think about scientists like Aristotle, Galileo, Albert Einstein, and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Consider artists like da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Vincent van Gogh, my favorite, who was so superior it drove him insane. Above all, don't forget athletically superior beings like Jim Thorpe, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, and Jesse Owens; Larisa Latynina and Muhammad Ali; Mark Spitz and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Humbly, I include myself on this superhuman spectrum as well—and deservedly so, as you shall soon see.

In short, people like me are born for great things. We seek adversity. We seek to conquer. We seek to break through all limits—spiritually, politically, artistically, scientifically, and physically. We seek to right wrongs in the face of monumental odds. And we're willing to suffer for greatness, willing to engage in dogged effort and endless preparation with the fervor of a martyr—which, to my mind, is an exceptional trait in any human being at any age.

At the moment I have to admit that I'm certainly feeling exceptional, standing here in the garden of Sir Denton Marshall, a sniveling, corrupt old bastard if there ever was one.

Look at him on his knees, with his back to me and my knife at his throat.

Why, he trembles and shakes as if a stone had just clipped his head. Can you smell it? Fear? It surrounds him with an odor as rank as the air after a bomb explodes.

"Why?" he gasps.

"You've angered me, monster," I snarl at him, feeling a deeper-than-primal rage split my mind and seethe through every cell. "You've helped ruin the games, made them a mockery and an abomination."

"What?" he cries, acting bewildered. "What are you talking about?"

I deliver the evidence against him in three damning sentences that turn the skin of his neck livid and his carotid artery a sickening, pulsing purple.

"No!" he sputters. "That's...that's not true. You can't do this. Have you gone utterly mad?"

"Mad? Me?" I say. "Hardly. I'm the sanest person I know."

"Please," he says, tears rolling down his face. "Have mercy. I'm to be married on Christmas Eve."

My laugh is as caustic as battery acid. "In another life, Denton, I ate my own children. You'll get no mercy from me or my sisters."

As his confusion and horror become complete, I look up into the night sky, feeling storms rising in my head, and understanding once again that I am superior, superhuman, imbued with forces that go back thousands of years.

"For all true Olympians," I vow, "this act of sacrifice marks the beginning of the end of the modern games."

Then I wrench the old man's head back so his back arches.

And before he can scream, I furiously rip the blade across his throat with such force that his head comes free of his neck all the way to his spine.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Paul Panting

Paul Panting has narrated numerous audio books and has been featured in many BBC Radio Drama plays and readings. His television credits include Silent Witness, The Jury II, and Inspector Lewis.

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