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Private L.A.

Private Jack Morgan investigates the disappearance of the biggest superstar couple in Hollywood.

Thom and Jennifer Harlow are the perfect couple, with three perfect children. They maybe two of the biggest mega movie stars in the world, but they're also great parents, philanthropists and just all-around good people.

When they disappear without a word from their ranch, facts are hard to find. They live behind such a high wall of security and image control that even world-renowned Private Investigator Jack Morgan can't get to the truth. But as Jack keeps probing, secrets sprout thick and fast--and the world's golden couple may emerge as hiding behind a world of desperation and deception that the wildest reality show couldn't begin to unveil. Murder is only the opening scene.

Prologue | NO PRISONERS

Two

“N.P.?” SANDY SAID, wiping his eyes. “Whazzat stand for, anyway? N.P.?”

“No Prisoners,” N.P. said, hands back in the hoodie’s pouch again.

“No Prisoners?” Grinder snorted. “That some kind of M.C. rap star tag? You famous or what behind them glasses?”

N.P. smiled again. “It’s my war name. Sorry, dogs and bros, but a few people have to take it the hard way for people to start listening to us.”

He drew two suppressed Glock 9mms from the pouch of his hoodie.

Wilson saw them first. Soldier instinct took over. The Iraq vet rolled, scrambled, tried to get out of Dodge.

N.P. had figured Wilson would be the one. So he shot him first, at ten yards, a double whack to the base of the head where it met the spine. The vet buckled to the sand, quivered in his own blood.

“What the...?” Sandy screamed before the next round caught him in the throat, flattening him.

“Frick, bro,” Grinder moaned as N.P. turned the guns on him. The surfer’s hands turned to prayer. “Don’t blaze me, bro.”

The killer’s expression revealed nothing as he pulled the trigger of each gun once, punching holes in Grinder’s chest.

“You mother-loving son of a...!”

Hunter lunged to tackle him. N.P. stepped off the line of his attack, shot him in the left temple from less than eight inches away. Hunter crashed into the fire, began to burn.

The killer glanced up at the closest homes. Still dark. He pocketed the guns. The wind blew northwest, hard off the Pacific, swirled the beach sand, stung his cheeks as he dragged the other three corpses to the fire and threw them in, facedown. The smell was like when you singe hair, only much, much worse. But that would do it, a nice touch, increase the panic.

N.P. got a plastic sandwich bag from his pocket. He crouched, opened it, and shook out what looked like a business card. It landed facedown in the sand. He kicked it under Sandy’s leg, picked up six empty 9mm shells, and pocketed them. His beer bottle he took to the ocean, wiped it down, and hurled it out into the water.

Satisfied, he snapped the underside of his Lakers cap, waded into the surf up to his knees. He walked parallel to the beach, toward Pacific Coast Highway, head down into the wind, the salt spray, and the gathering storm.

Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson

Read by Jay Snyder

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