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.
Excerpted from the book Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson. Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, N.Y. All rights reserved
Alex Cross was planning on having a nice quiet Christmas Eve trimming the tree with Bree, Nana, and his kids when the thief who has been robbing his church’s poor box decides to replenish his empty pockets. But that’s just the first of several interruptions James Patterson has in store for the overworked detective in Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, the 19th page-turner in his bestselling series. The others are far more dangerous.....
Henry Fowler was a high-flying attorney until his wife had a torrid affair and divorced him to marry her doctor lover. Now he’s a down-and-out alcoholic and drug abuser with vengeance on his mind, and the hostage situation he creates threatens to turn the holiday season into a bloodbath. But as dire as the Fowler situation is, it pales in comparison to the one facing Cross and his team when a cunning terrorist carrying a sack full of “gifts” decides to drop them around the city to surprise holiday revelers.
If Alex can resolve these explosive issues he may just be able to make it home to be with his loving crew. But “if” is the operative word, and as the situations escalate, it isn’t looking like a merry Christmas will be had by all....
Hardcover Book : 400 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Usa ( November 12, 2012 )
Item #: 13-619319
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.79inches
Product Weight: 13.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I really enjoyed this book another don't stop til you finish Alex was at his best again
Reviewer: Spenderella K
I really liked this book!!
Have read all the Cross novels and this one is not as good as I normally expect from Patterson. Seemed a little disjointed but was a quick read.
Reviewer: Randy p
This novel is ok but certainly not the best Alex Cross. I love the Alex Cross series and I always expect a fantastic story. This was just all right.
Reviewer: Beth H