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.
Book One | THE FURIES
PETER KNIGHT FELT helpless as he glanced back and forth from the Olympic symbol crossed out in blood to the head of his mother's fiancé.
Inspector Pottersfield stepped up beside Knight. In a thin voice, she said, "Tell me about Sir Denton."
Swallowing his grief, Knight said, "Denton was a great, great man, Elaine. Ran a big hedge fund, made loads of money, but gave most of it away. He was also an absolutely critical member of the London Organising Committee. A lot of people think that without Sir Denton's efforts, we never would have beaten out Paris for the games. He was also a nice guy, unimpressed with himself. And he made my mother very happy."
"I didn't think that was possible," the chief inspector remarked.
"Neither did I. Neither did Amanda. But he did," Knight said. "Until just now, I didn't think Denton Marshall had an enemy in the world."
Pottersfield gestured at the bloody Olympic symbol. "Maybe it has more to do with the Olympics than with who he was in the rest of his life."
Knight stared at Sir Denton Marshall's head and returned to the corpse before saying, "Maybe. Or maybe this is just designed to throw us off the track. Cutting off someone's head can easily be construed as an act of rage, which is almost always personal at some level."
"You're saying this could be revenge of some kind?" Potters-field replied.
Knight shrugged. "Or a political statement. Or the work of a deranged mind. Or a combination of the three. I don't know."
"Can you account for your mother's whereabouts last evening between eleven and twelve thirty?" Pottersfield asked suddenly.
Knight looked at her as though she were an idiot. "Amanda loved Denton."
"Spurned love can be a powerful motive for rage," Potters-field observed.
"There was no spurning," Knight snapped. "I would have known. Besides, you've seen my mother. She's five foot five and a hundred and ten pounds. Denton was two twenty. There's no way she'd have the physical or emotional strength to cut off his head. And no reason to."
"So you're saying you do know where she was?" Pottersfield asked.
"I'll find out and get back to you. But first I have to tell her."
"I'll do that if you think it might help."
"No, I'll do it," Knight said, studying Sir Denton's head one last time, and then focusing on the way his mouth seemed twisted, as if he wanted to spit something out.
Knight fished in his pocket for a pen-size flashlight, stepped around the Olympic symbol, and shined the beam into the gap between Sir Denton's lips. He saw a glint of something, and reached back into his pocket for a pair of forceps he always kept there in case he wanted to pick something up without touching it.
Refusing to look at his mother's dead fiancé's eyes, he began to probe between the man's lips with the forceps.
"Peter, stop that," Pottersfield ordered. "You're—"
But Knight was already turning to show her a tarnished bronze coin he'd plucked from Sir Denton's mouth.
"New theory," he said. "It's about money."
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
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.