The RedeemerHarry Hole investigates a mistaken assassination
The subject of a TIME magazine feature called "The Man Who Can't Miss," author James Patterson holds the Guinness World Record for most Hardcover Fiction best selling books by a single suspense author. James Patterson has had 19 consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, and is also the only suspense author to have five new hardcover novels debut at #1 in one yeara feat he’s accomplished every year since 2005. James Patterson's books spawned the hit movies Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, based on the Alex Cross books, and the ABC television series, "The Women's Murder Club." And kids love James Patterson's books, too, as he is the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times bestsellers' list under adult and children's titles. He is the creator of the Maximum Ride series, as well as Daniel X and Witch & Wizard. With characters that include the intrepid Alex Cross, Max, Daniel X, Detective Michael Bennett (Run for Your Life, Worst Case) and others, James Patterson's books keep this suspense author on track to remain "The Man Who Can't Miss" for the foreseeable future.
Alex Cross, Run
I T ’ S NOT EVERY DAY THAT I GET A NAKED GIRL ANSWERING THE DOOR I knock on.
Don’t get me wrong—with twenty years of law enforcement under my belt, it’s happened. Just not that often.
“Are you the waiters?” this girl asked. There was a bright but empty look in her eyes that said ecstasy to me, and I could smell weed from inside. The music was thumping, too, the kind of relentless techno that would make me want to slit my wrists if I had to listen to it for long.
“No, we’re not the waiters,” I told her, showing my badge. “Metro police. And you need to put something on, right now.”
She wasn’t even fazed. “There were supposed to be waiters,” she said to no one in particular. It made me sad and disgusted at the same time. This girl didn’t look like she was even out of high school yet, and the men we were here to arrest were old enough to be her father.
“Check her clothes before she puts them on,” I told one of the female officers on the entry team. Besides myself there were five uniformed cops, a rep from Youth and Family Services, three detectives from the Prostitution Unit, and three more from Second District, including my friend John Sampson.
Second District is Georgetown—not the usual stomping grounds for the Prostitution Unit. The white brick N Street town house where we’d arrived was typical for the neighborhood, probably worth somewhere north of five million. It was a rental property, paid six months in advance by proxy, but the paper trail had led back to Dr. Elijah Creem, one of DC’s most in-demand plastic surgeons. As far as we could make out, Creem was funneling funds to pay for these “industry parties,” and his partner in scum, Josh Bergman, was providing the eye candy.
Bergman was the owner of Cap City Dolls, a legit modeling agency based out of an M Street office, with a heavily rumored arm in the underground flesh trade. Detectives at the department were pretty sure that while Bergman was running his aboveboard agency with one hand, he was also dispatching exotic dancers, overnight escorts, masseuses, and porn “talent” with the other. As far as I could tell, the house was filled with “talent” right now, and they all seemed to be about eighteen, more or less. Emphasis on the less.
I couldn’t wait to bust these two scumbags.
Surveillance had put Creem and Bergman downtown at Minibar around seven o’clock that night, and then here at the party house as of nine thirty. Now it was just a game of smoking them out.
Beyond the enclosed foyer the party was in full swing.
The front hall and formal living room were packed. It
was all Queen Anne furniture and parquet floors on the
one hand and half-dressed, tweaked-out kids stomping
to the music and drinking out of plastic cups on the
“I want everyone contained in this front room,” Sampson shouted at one of the uniforms. “We’ve got an anytime warrant for this house, so start looking. We’re checking for drugs, cash, ledgers, appointment books, cell phones, everything. And get this goddamn music off!”
We left half the team to secure the front of the house and took the rest toward the back, where there was more party going on.
Reprinted from the book Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson. Copyright (C) 2013 by James Patterson. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.
AT TEN O’CLOCK on a moonless September evening, Chris Schneider slipped toward a long-abandoned building on the eastern outskirts of Berlin, his mind whirling with dark images and old vows.
Late thirties, and dressed in dark clothes, Schneider drew out a .40 Glock pistol and eased forward, alert to the dry rustle of the thorn bushes and goldenrod and the vines that engulfed the place.
He hesitated, staring at the silhouette of the building, recalling some of the horror that he’d felt coming here for the first time, and realizing that he’d been waiting almost three decades for this moment.
Indeed, for ten years he’d trained his mind and body.
For ten years after that he’d actively sought revenge, but to no avail.
In the past decade, Schneider had come to believe it might never happen, that his past had not only disappeared, it had died, and with it the chance to exact true payback for himself and the others.
But here was his chance to be the avenging angel they’d all believed in.
Schneider heard voices in his mind, all shrieking at him to go forward and put a just ending to their story.
At their calling, Schneider felt himself harden inside. They deserved a just ending. He intended to give it to them.
By now he’d reached the steps of the building. The chain hung from the barn doors, which stood ajar. He stared at the darkness, feeling his gut hollow and his knees weaken.
You’ve waited a lifetime, Schneider told himself. Finish it. Now.
For all of us.
Schneider toed open the door. He stepped inside, smelling traces of stale urine, burnt copper, and something dead.
His mind flashed with the image of a door swinging shut and locking, and for a moment that alone threatened to cripple him completely.
But then Schneider felt righteous vengeance ignite inside him. He pressed the safety lever on the trigger, readying it to fire. He flicked on the flashlight taped to the gun, giving him a soft red beam with which to dissect the place.
Boot prints marred the dust.
Schneider’s heart pounded as he followed them. Cement rooms, more like stalls really, stood to either side of the passage. Even though the footprints went straight ahead, he searched the rooms one by one. In the last, he stopped and stared, seeing a horror film playing behind his eyes.
He tore his attention away, but noticed his gun hand was trembling.
The hallway met a second set of barn doors. The lock hung loose in the hasp. The doors were parted a foot, leading into a cavernous space.
He heard fluttering, stepped inside, and aimed his light and pistol into the rafters, seeing pigeons blinking in their roost.
The smell of death was worse here. Schneider swung his light all around, looking for the source. Large rusted bolts jutted from the floor. Girders and trusses overhead supported a track that ran the length of the space.
Corroded hooks hung on chains from the track.
The footprints cut diagonally left, away from the doorway. He followed, aware of those bolts in the floor and not wanting to trip.
Schneider meant to look into the girders again, but was distracted by something scampering ahead of him. He crouched, aiming the gun and light at the noise.
“Nothing at all. Your assistant said you’d fill me in, just told me to meet you here.”
“Good. This is clearly on a need-to-know basis. Safer that way.”
Jack took the drink from the bar lady and laid his briefcase on the counter. Popping open the locks. “Apart from her first name, she has a completely new identity—surname, passport. Everything.”
“Witness- protection program?”
“Something like that.”
“Only not government- sanctioned?”
“In fact it is.”
“She’s how old?”
“Hannah is twenty.”
“And I’m taking her back to England?”
“For how long?”
“Three years, Dan.”
I looked at him quizzically and took a sip of beer. Then nodded. “Long enough to get a degree, I guess?”
Jack Morgan nodded, pleased. “You catch on fast.”
“Where’s she going to be studying?”
I nodded right back at him. One of the oldest, one of the best. I looked down at the documents. Money was clearly not a problem. Private didn’t come cheap— even if it was for
just a hand- holding job on a flight over the Pond.
“This isn’t just a hand- holding exercise, Dan.”
I fought the urge to react. “It’s not?”
“She’s extremely valuable cargo. I need an eye on her the whole time she’s over there in England. Looked after discreetly.”
“Hard to be discreet if she goes round like Madonna with a crew of bodyguards the whole time.”
“Indeed. Less of a bodyguard, more of a companion. Let us know if she starts falling in with the wrong kind of crowd. Discreetly. Eyes and ears.”
“So discreet even Hannah herself doesn’t know about it?”
“When’s her course start?”
I took a sip of my lager. “I might need some strings pulling.”
“Way ahead of you.” Jack nodded at the briefcase. “I’ve spoken to the dean of admissions.”
“What’s she going to be reading?”
I nodded thoughtfully again. “That could work.”
“She’s had some issues in the past that I can’t talk about. Maybe this will help her deal with that.”
“And we make sure she has the space to do so.”
“Her father is a major client of ours, Dan. Seven figures major. So she’s important to us.”
“What does he do?”
Jack looked at me with a small quirk of a smile. “He pays the bills.”
“Like you said. Need-to-know basis .”
“You got it, bubba.” He clicked his glass against mine and drained it. “Okay. Let’s go meet the million- dollar baby.”
THE REAR DOOR TO ST. ANTHONY’ S CHURCH HAD BEEN LEFT OPEN. EXACTLY AS I had been promised. John Sampson and I eased in through the dimly lit sacristy, the room where the priests dressed for services and where they stored the altar wine, the hymnals, and the vestments.
“Sugar, I hope we don’t have to shoot some dude in a church,” Sampson said in a stage whisper. “Your Nana’d be predicting me for a slot in the fire.”
“Especially if you pulled the trigger in church tonight.”
“Not funny, Alex.”
“Who’s laughing, John? If you shot someone in a church on Christmas Eve and I didn’t stop you, Nana Mama would be signing me up for a slot right next to you in the big burn.”
We made our way along a short, narrow hallway that led to the darkened apse and the altar itself. We stayed in the hall, looking out. Except for some flickering votives, some dim overheads, and a hanging candle near the altar table, there was no light in the church.
There couldn’t have been more than three or four people in the place. An old woman clicking her rosary beads, a homeless guy napping in the front pew, an older man reading a prayer book and muttering curses. I carefully checked out each of them.
Then a young girl in a fur coat, a coat way too fancy for St. Anthony’s, barged out of the confessional box on the near side of the church. She was sobbing into a long striped scarf. The priest came out after her. Father Harris placed his hand on her shoulder and led her to a pew, knelt by her.
The padre was a very nice guy, and a very good priest, the kind of man you did favors for if you could.
I looked around at the sparse wreaths that decorated the church. I’d been attending St. Anthony’s since I was ten years old and I couldn’t remember the place ever seeming so bare at Christmas. In fact, the church looked depressing.
I waited until I was sure all the worshippers had their heads down, and then I walked quickly along the front of the altar and knelt at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the carved oak pulpit. The Man Mountain stayed on the sacristy side and knelt among the bright red poinsettia plants, the lectern and the chairs used by the priest and altar boys between him and the pews.
A moment later, the girl nodded and left. Father Harris paused, glanced toward our positions, and then went out a side door.
Except for steam ticking in the registers, St. Anthony’s fell quiet. Kneeling there with my back to the crucifix high on the rear wall felt odd and somehow wrong. Then again, the entire thing felt strange. I don’t think I’d been at an altar in more than thirty-five years. Not since I had been at that very altar making my confirmation, when I was twelve.
That day, the bishop prayed over us as we were being confirmed, saying, “Fill them with Your spirit of fear, O Lord.” It’s a prayer that I have always found peculiar because as a rule, I see God as a source of courage and direction, not fear. But I’m not a priest, and so, as Sampson likes to say, what do I know?
We held our positions, in any case, and waited, knowing we had only an hour to pull this off. At six, the priests and friars from the priory next door would come to prepare the church for Midnight Mass. At six, this little stakeout would be over and I’d be going home for a well-deserved holiday with my family.
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