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Step on a Crack

First there was Alex Cross.

Then there was the Women's Murder Club.

Now meet Detective Michael Bennett, NYPD.

Detective Michael Bennett is about to face the greatest challenge of his career. After the death of a beloved former first lady, the most powerful people in the world gather in New York for her funeral. Then the inconceivable occurs. Billionaires, politicians, and superstars of every kind are suddenly trapped within one man's brilliant and ruthless scenario.

Ten adopted kids.
Bennett–father of ten–is pulled into the fray but is then hit with devastating news: his wife is battling a terrible disease. As New York descends into chaos, he faces the prospect of losing the great love of his life and having to raise his children alone.

The crime of the century to solve.
Day after day, Bennett confronts the most ruthless man he has ever encountered, a man who kills without hesitation. As the entire world watches, Bennett has to find a way out–or face responsibility for the greatest debacle in history.

Welcome to Michael Bennett's world.
From the #1 bestselling author who introduced readers to Alex Cross and the Women's Murder Club comes the beginning of a brand-new electrifying series. Step on a Crack is his most fiendishly terrifying thriller yet.

Part One | THE PERFECT TEN

Chapter 2

THERE WAS HARDLY enough of my wife left to get twenty arms around, but the kids managed it somehow. There were twenty-two arms when I got there. My wife was on morphine, codeine, and Percocet, but the only time I saw her completely pain-free was that first moment when we arrived, when she had all her ducklings pressed around her.

“Michael,” Maeve whispered to me. “Thank you. Thank you. They look so wonderful.”

“So do you,” I whispered back. “You didn’t get out of that bed by yourself again, did you?”

Every day when we came to see her, she was dressed for company, her intravenous pain pack hidden away, a smile on her face.

“If you didn’t want glamour, Mr. Bennett,” my wife said, fighting the weariness in her glazed eyes, “I guess you should have married someone else.”

It was the morning of the previous New Year’s Day when Maeve had complained about some stomach pain. We’d thought it was just some holiday indigestion, but when it hadn’t gone away in two weeks, her doctor wanted to do a laparoscopy just to be on the safe side. They found growths on both ovaries, and the biopsy came back with the worst news of all. Malignant. A week later, a second biopsy of the lymph nodes they took out with her uterus reported even worse news. The cancer had spread, and it wasn’t going to stop.

“Let me help you up this time, Maeve,” I whispered as she started to push herself up out of the chair.

“You want to get seriously hurt?” she said, glaring at me. “Mr. Tough Guy Detective!”

Maeve fought for her life and dignity like a banshee. She took on cancer the way the outclassed Jake LaMotta took on Sugar Ray Robinson in the fifties, with an epic ferocity not to be believed.

She was a nurse herself and used every contact and every ounce of wisdom and experience she’d gained. She underwent so many chemo and radiation treatments, it put a life-threatening strain on her heart. But even after the radical attempts, after everything there was to be done had been done, the CAT scan revealed growing tumors in both lungs, her liver, and her pancreas.

A quote from LaMotta rang in my ears as I watched Maeve stand on her wobbling toothpick legs to prop herself up behind her wheelchair. “You never knocked me down, Ray,” he supposedly said after Robinson TKO’d him. “You never knocked me down.”

Copyright © 2007 by James Patterson

Read by John Slattery & Reg Rogers

John Slattery's credits include: Flag of Our Fathers, Jack & Bobby, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Mona Lisa Smile, Sex and the City, and Will & Grace. He has read several audiobooks.

Reg Rogers was nominated for Broadway's 1996 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role-Play) for a revival of Phillip Barry's Holiday. Other credits include: Analyze That, Igby Goes Down, Runaway Bride, If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now, Shut Up and Sing and TV's: Ed, Miss Match, and Law & Order.

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