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Unlucky 13

The Women's Murder Club is stalked by a killer with nothing to lose.

San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. With an attentive husband, a job she loves, plus best friends who can talk about anything from sex to murder, things couldn't be better.

Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women's Murder Club has ever encountered.

In this pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel by James Patterson, the Women's Murder Club must find a killer—before she finds them first.

Prologue | KA-BOOM


THE SCENE WAS surreal, and I don’t use the term lightly.

From what I could see, a late-model red Jeep had lost control in the outside northbound lane and then careered across five lanes before hitting the walkway barrier and slamming into the railing, which was bulging to accommodate the Jeep’s front end.

All but one lane had been closed, and a narrow ribbon of traffic was open to alternating northbound and southbound traffic that crawled past the Jeep, which was swallowed by fog up to its tail lights.

Law enforcement vehicles were haphazardly parked on the roadway: Bridge Authority SUVs, Fire Department, CHP vehicles, black-and-whites, and personnel to match were all clumped up around the Jeep. I saw people I knew from the ME’s Office shooting pictures of the accident. A traffic cop heaved over the railing.

At the same time, a tow truck was pulling into position to remove the Jeep, in prep for reopening the road, the only thoroughfare between San Francisco and Sausalito.

A Bridge Authority uni checked out our badges and called out, “Dr. Washburn, you got company.”

Claire came out from behind her van, shaking her head, and said, “Hey, you guys. Welcome to some kind of crazy. Let me give you the tour.”

She looked worried, and as we closed in on the Jeep, I saw why. The windshield had exploded outward, the front end was crushed accordion-style, and as I peered into the passenger compartment, my scalp actually crawled.

I’ve seen a lot of gruesome scenes in my fourteen years in Homicide, and this one vaulted to the top of the “most gruesome” list. I mean, number one.

Two adults, white male in the driver’s seat, white female in the passenger seat, both looked to be in their late teens or early twenties. Their arms were akimbo and their heads thrown back, mouths open in silent screams.

But what drew my attention directly were the victims’ midsections, which were gaping, bloody holes. And I could see where the blood and guts had gone.

The driver’s side was plastered with bits of human debris mixed with fragments of clothing and other detritus I couldn’t identify. One air bag was draped over the steering wheel. The other covered the passenger from the thighs down.

Claire said, “We’ve got blood and particles of human tissue stuck all over everywhere. We’ve got damage to the seat belts and the dashboard and the instrument panel, and that’s a button projectile stuck in the visor. Also, we’ve got a dusting of particulate from the air bags sugaring everything.

“These areas right here,” she said, pointing to the blown-out abdomens of the deceased, “this is what I’m calling explosive points of origin.”

“Aw, Christ,” Rich said. “They had bombs on their laps? What a desperate way to kill yourself.”

“I’m not ready to call manner of death, but I’m getting a handle on cause. Look at this,” Claire said. She got an arm around the passenger and leaned the young woman’s body forward. I saw spinal tissue, bone, and blood against the back of the seat.

My morning coffee was now threatening to climb out of my throat, and the air around me seemed to get very bright. I turned away, took a couple of deep breaths, and when I turned back, I had the presence of mind to say, “So, this bomb, or should I say bombs plural, blew all the way through the bodies?”

Claire said, “Correct, Lindsay. That’s why my premature but still educated opinion is that we’re looking at a bomb that exploded from inside the abdomen. Abdomens, plural.

“I’m thinking belly bombs.”

Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

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