1st to die, p.1
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       1st to Die, p.1

         Part #1 of Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson
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1st to Die


  FIRST CLASS RAVES FOR

  JAMES PATTERSON AND HIS NEWEST

  #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

  1ST

  TO DIE

  “PATTERSON BOILS A SCENE DOWN TO THE SINGLE, TELLING DETAIL, THE ELEMENT THAT DEFINES A CHARACTER OR MOVES A PLOT ALONG. It’s what fires off the movie projector in the reader’s mind.”

  —Michael Connelly, author of A Darkness More Than Night

  “THE MAN IS THE MASTER OF THIS GENRE. We fans all have one wish for him: Write even faster.”

  —Larry King, USA Today

  “HIS CLEVER TWISTS AND AFFECTING SUBPLOTS KEEP THE PAGES FLYING.”

  —People (Page-Turner of the Week)

  “DELIVERS A SHARP PUNCH.”

  —Chicago Tribune

  “THAT RAPID-FIRE, IN-YOUR-FACE, YOU’D-BETTER-KEEP-READING-OR-ELSE FORMAT WILL MAKE YOU FINISH 1ST TO DIE IN ONE SITTING (barring World War III, a 9.1 earthquake or the Ebola virus).”

  —Denver Rocky Mountain News

  “PATTERSON KNOWS WHERE OUR DEEPEST FEARS ARE BURIED…. THERE’S NO STOPPING HIS IMAGINATION.”

  —New York Times Book Review

  “Patterson’s prose style is smart… powering the plot along smoothly…. Works to keep readers glued tight right to the end. A WALLOPING GOOD RIDE.”

  —Buffalo News

  “[A] NEAT TRICK OF AN ENDING.”

  —Janet Maslin, New York Times

  “A clever plot with enough LAST-MINUTE REVELATIONS TO KEEP YOU GUESSING.”

  —Entertainment Weekly

  “JAMES PATTERSON WRITES HIS THRILLERS AS IF HE WERE BUILDING ROLLER COASTERS. He grounds the stories with a bare-bones plot, then builds them over the top and tries to throw readers for a loop a few times along the way.”

  —Associated Press

  “A SLICK, TAUT THRILLER…. Patterson keeps the pace moving at top speed. 1st TO DIE is a darn good book.”

  —Orlando Sentinel

  “A good story with a murderer as twisted as any Patterson has created—and AN ENDING THAT WILL TAKE READERS BY SURPRISE.”

  —Newark Star-Ledger

  “POLISHED, BRISKLY WRITTEN ENTERTAINMENT… DELIVERS THE SPINE-TINGLY GOODS.”

  —Sunday Oregonian

  “A SURE BET FOR A BESTSELLER.”

  —Cleveland Plain Dealer

  “HE’S DONE IT AGAIN.… CLEVER KICKOFF TO A NEW SERIES… A GLEAMING MACHINE OF A NOVEL.… Patterson… isn’t afraid to reach as a writer.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “If you want to—gasp—scare yourself silly, GRAB JAMES PATTERSON’S LATEST THRILLER.”

  —Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinal

  “PATTERSON, WHO FIRST HOOKED CRIME-THRILLER FANS WITH HIS SERIES OF ALEX CROSS NOVELS, DOESN’T MISS A BEAT. The plot moves at breakneck speed…. Patterson manages a fine balance…. and he keeps the reader guessing right up to a scary double-twist ending.”

  —Memphis Commercial Appeal

  “PATTERSON SHOWS HE’S 2nd TO NONE.… Patterson catches us again with book in hand and fingers turning those pages just as quickly as we did for other favorites, Along Came a Spider, Pop Goes the Weasel, and Kiss the Girls.”

  —Oakland Press

  “SOLID, THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTER… newcomers to his work will be enthralled.”

  —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

  “ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE AND SADISTIC KILLERS SINCE HANNIBAL LECTER.… There are surprises in store right up to the last page.”

  —BookPage

  “PATTERSON AGAIN PROVES HIMSELF A MASTER OF THE CRAFT.… Such a great book: every time you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize the killer is still a step ahead.”

  —Providence Sunday Journal

  “PATTERSON HAS KICKED OFF HIS NEW SERIES IN STYLE.… A page-turner in the classic sense of the term.”

  —Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate

  “PATTERSON KEEPS UP THE SUSPENSE UNTIL THE VERY LAST PAGE and will have readers looking forward to the second installment in the series.”

  —Booklist

  “READERS WLL ENJOY THE HEART-PUMPING PLOT AND ROOT FOR THE LADIES TO SUCCEED.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “HIS MANY FANS WILL BE WELL PLEASED WITH THIS FIRST BOOK OF A NEW SERIES FEATURING FOUR COURAGEOUS AND INTELLIGENT WOMEN.”

  —Roanoke Times

  “THE RELENTLESS VELOCITY is guaranteed to hook fans of the bestselling Patterson.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “PATTERSON IS A TERRIFIC STORYTELLER… moves along at a rapid pace.”

  —Winston-Salem Journal

  “Master of the serial killer genre, Patterson again keeps us on edge right to the last page. LET’S HOPE THE CLUB CONTINUES TO MEET.”

  —Sunday Oklahoman

  PRAISE FOR THE PREVIOUS NOVELS OF JAMES PATTERSON

  ALONG CAME A SPIDER

  “JAMES PATTERSON DOES EVERYTHING BUT STICK OUR FINGER IN A LIGHT SOCKET TO GIVE US A BUZZ.”

  —New York Times

  “WHEN IT COMES TO CONSTRUCTING A HARROWING PLOT, AUTHOR JAMES PATTERSON CAN TURN A SCREW ALL RIGHT. James Patterson is to suspense what Danielle Steel is to romance.”

  —New York Daily News

  KISS THE GIRLS

  “TOUGH TO PUT DOWN.… TICKS LIKE A TIME BOMB, ALWAYS FULL OF THREAT AND TENSION.”

  —Los Angeles Times

  “AS GOOD AS A THRILLER CAN GET.… WITH KISS THE GIRLS, PATTERSON JOINS THE ELITE COMPANY OF THOMAS HARRIS AND JOHN SANFORD.”

  —San Francisco Examiner

  JACK & JILL

  “FORTUNATELY PATTERSON HAS BROUGHT BACK HOMICIDE DETECTIVE ALEX CROSS.… He’s the kind of multilayered character that makes any plot twist seem believable.”

  —People

  “Captivating…. A fast-paced thriller full of surprising but realistic plot twists.… CROSS IS ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST LIKABLE CHARACTERS IN THE MODERN THRILLER GENRE.”

  —San Francisco Examiner

  “QUICK AND SCARY.”

  —New York Daily News

  CAT & MOUSE

  “FAST PACED… THE PROTOTYPE THRILLER FOR TODAY.”

  —San Diego Union-Tribune

  “A RIDE ON A ROLLER COASTER WHOSE BRAKES HAVE GONE OUT.”

  —Chicago Tribune

  POP GOES THE WEASEL

  “CROSS IS ONE OF THE BEST PROTAGONISTS OF THE MODERN THRILLER GENRE, AND ONE OF THE MOST LIKABLE.”

  —San Francisco Examiner

  “FAST AND FURIOUS.…IN THE PATTERSON PANTHEON OF VILLAINS, SHAFER IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE WORST.”

  —Chicago Tribune

  ROSES ARE RED

  “PATTERSON KNOWS WHERE OUR DEEPEST FEARS ARE BURIED…. THERE’S NO STOPPING HIS IMAGINATION.”

  —New York Times Book Review

  “THRILLING… SWIFT… A PAGE-TURNER.”

  —People

  “IT STARTS OUT, BANG!… PATTERSON HAS GOT THE MATERIAL DEAD ON.”

  —Baltimore Sun

  “PATTERSON MASTERMINDS ANOTHER THRILLER.… Once again, we’re left to wonder, how does this man continue to write gripping tales that keep us turning pages into the wee hours of the night until the book is finished, and we’re disappointed there isn’t more to read?”

  —Oakland Press

  Also by James Patterson

  The Thomas Berryman Number

  Season of the Machete

  See How They Run

  The Midnight Club

  Along Came a Spider

  Kiss the Girls

  Hide & Seek

  Jack & Jill

  Miracle on the 17th Green

  (with Peter de Jonge)

  Cat & Mouse

  When the Wind Blows

  Pop Goes the Weasel

  Black Friday


  Cradle and All

  Roses Are Red

  Copyright

  The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  WARNER BOOKS EDITION

  Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

  Warner Books, Inc.

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue

  New York, NY 10017

  Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com

  First eBook Edition: March 2010

  ISBN: 978-0-7595-2454-5

  Contents

  First Class Raves For

  Also by James Patterson

  Copyright

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Book One: DAVID AND MELANIE

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Book Two: THE WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Book Three: RED BEARD

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Chapter 86

  Chapter 87

  Chapter 88

  Chapter 89

  Chapter 90

  Chapter 91

  Chapter 92

  Chapter 93

  Chapter 94

  Chapter 95

  Book Four: THE WHOLE TRUTH

  Chapter 96

  Chapter 97

  Chapter 98

  Chapter 99

  Chapter 100

  Chapter 101

  Chapter 102

  Chapter 103

  Chapter 104

  Chapter 105

  Chapter 106

  Chapter 107

  Chapter 108

  Chapter 109

  Chapter 110

  Chapter 111

  Chapter 112

  Chapter 113

  Chapter 114

  Chapter 115

  Chapter 116

  Chapter 117

  Chapter 118

  Chapter 119

  Chapter 120

  Chapter 121

  Chapter 122

  Chapter 123

  Chapter 124

  Chapter 125

  Chapter 126

  Epilogue

  A Preview of 2ND CHANCE

  Prologue

  Part I

  Acknowledgments

  My thanks to the following people, whose hard work and expertise helped in the writing of this book.

  Dr. Greg Zorman, Chief of Neurosurgery, Lakeland Hospital, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who I’d like on my side in a crisis.

  The lovely and talented Fern Galperin, Mary Jordan, Barbara Groszewski, and Irene Markocki.

  Prologue

  INSPECTOR LINDSAY BOXER

  IT IS AN UNUSUALLY WARM NIGHT in July, but I’m shivering badly as I stand on the substantial gray stone terrace outside my apartment. I’m looking out over glorious San Francisco and I have my service revolver pressed against the side of my temple.

  “Goddamn you, God!” I whisper. Quite a sentiment, but appropriate and just, I think.

  I hear Sweet Martha whimpering. I turn and see she is watching me through the glass doors that lead to the terrace. She knows that something is wrong. “It’s okay,” I call to her through the door. “I’m okay. Go lie down, girl.”

  Martha won’t leave, though, won’t look away. She’s a good, loyal friend who’s been nuzzling me good-night every single night for the past six years.

  As I stare into the Border collie’s eyes, I think that maybe I should go inside and call the girls. Claire, Cindy, and Jill would be here almost before I hung up the phone. They would hold me, hug me, say all the right things. You’re special, Lindsay. Everybody loves you, Lindsay.

  Only I’m pretty sure that I’d be back out here tomorrow night, or the night after. I just don’t see a way out of this mess. I have thought it all through a hundred times. I can be as logical as hell, but I am also highly emotional, obviously. That was my strength as an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department. It is a rare combination, and I think it is why I was more successful than any of the males in Homicide. Of course, none of them are up here getting ready to blow their brains out with their own guns.

  I lightly brush the barrel of the revolver down my cheek and then up to my temple again. Oh God, oh God, oh God. I am reminded of soft hands, of Chris, and that starts me crying.

  Lots of images are coming way too fast for me to handle.

  The terrible, indelible honeymoon murders that terrified our city, mixed with close-ups of my mom and even a few flashes of my father. My best girls — Claire, Cindy, and Jill — our crazy club. I can even see myself, the way I used to be, anyway. Nobody ever, ever thought that I looked like an inspector, the only woman homicide inspector in the entire SFPD. My friends always said I was more like Helen Hunt married to Paul Reiser in Mad About You. I was married once. I was no Helen Hunt; he sure was no Paul Reiser.

  This is so hard, so bad, so wrong. It’s so unlike me. I keep seeing David and Melanie Brandt, the first couple who were killed, in the Mandarin Suite of the Grand Hyatt. I see that horrifying hotel room, where they died senselessly and needlessly.

  That was the beginning.

  Book One

  DAVID AND MELANIE

  Chapter 1

  BEAUTIFUL LONG-STEMMED RED ROSES filled the hotel suite — the perfect gifts, really. Everything was perfect.

  There might be a luckier man somewhere on the planet, David Brandt thought as he wrapped his arms around Melanie, his new bride. Somewhere in Yemen, maybe — some Allah-praising farmer with a second goat. B
ut certainly not in all of San Francisco.

  The couple looked out from the living room of the Grand Hyatt’s Mandarin Suite. They could see the lights of Berkeley off in the distance, Alcatraz, the graceful outline of the lit-up Golden Gate Bridge.

  “It’s incredible.” Melanie beamed. “I wouldn’t change a single thing about today.”

  “Me either,” he whispered. “Well, maybe I wouldn’t have invited my parents.” They both laughed.

  Only moments before, they had bid farewell to the last of the three hundred guests in the hotel’s ballroom. The wedding was finally over. The toasts, the dancing, the schmoozing, the photographed kisses over the cake. Now it was just the two of them. They were twenty-nine years old and had the rest of their lives ahead of them.

  David reached for a pair of filled champagne glasses he had set on a lacquered table. “A toast,” he declared, “to the second-luckiest man alive.”

  “The second?” she said, and smiled in pretended shock. “Who’s the first?”

  They looped arms and took a long, luxurious sip from the crystal glasses. “This farmer with two goats. I’ll tell you later.

  “I have something for you,” David suddenly remembered. He had already given her the perfect five-carat diamond on her finger, which he knew she wore only to please his folks. He went to his tuxedo jacket, which was draped over a high-backed chair, and returned with a jewelry box from Bulgari.

  “No, David,” Melanie protested. “You’re my gift.”

 

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