Burn, p.1

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 part  #7 of  Michael Bennett Series

 

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  Contents

  About the Book

  About the Authors

  Also by James Patterson

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Prologue: California Leaving

  One: Los Angeles

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Part One: Harlem Shuffle

  Chapter 1: Harlem

  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

  Part Two: One of Our Own

  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

  Part Three: Back on the Beat

  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

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Part Four: Last Supper

  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

  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

  Epilogue

  Chapter 110

  Copyright

  ABOUT THE BOOK

  Detective Michael Bennett is coming home to New York. And a world of unimaginable evil awaits.

  Having brought an end to the vengeful mission of the ruthless crime lord who forced the Bennett family into hiding, Michael is finally back in New York City.

  However, Bennett is thrust straight back into a horrifying case: a witness claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a sickeningly depraved and murderous gathering in a condemned building.

  The report reads like the product of an overactive imagination. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, the unbelievable claim becomes all too real…

  ABOUT THE AUTHORS

  JAMES PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade – the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Detective Michael Bennett novels – and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son.

  James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books specifically for young readers. James is a founding partner of Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund in the UK. James Patterson has been the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the past seven years in a row.

  Find out more at www.jamespatterson.co.uk

  Become a fan of James Patterson on Facebook

  Michael Ledwidge is the author of thirteen novels, including eleven bestsellers co-authored with James Patterson. He lives with his wife and three children in Connecticut.

  Also by James Patterson

  DETECTIVE MICHAEL BENNETT SERIES

  Step on a Crack (with Michael Ledwidge)

  Run for Your Life (with Michael Ledwidge)

  Worst Case (with Michael Ledwidge)

  Tick Tock (with Michael Ledwidge)

  I, Michael Bennett (with Michael Ledwidge)

  Gone (with Michael Ledwidge)

  ALEX CROSS NOVELS

  Along Came a Spider • Kiss the Girls • Jack and Jill • Cat and Mouse • Pop Goes the Weasel • Roses are Red • Violets are Blue • Four Blind Mice • The Big Bad Wolf • London Bridges • Mary, Mary • Cross • Double Cross • Cross Country • Alex Cross’s Trial (with Richard DiLallo) • I, Alex Cross • Cross Fire • Kill Alex Cross • Merry Christmas, Alex Cross • Alex Cross, Run • Cross My Heart • Hope to Die (to be published November 2014)

  THE WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB SERIES

  1st to Die • 2nd Chance (with Andrew Gross) • 3rd Degree (with Andrew Gross) • 4th of July (with Maxine Paetro) • The 5th Horseman (with Maxine Paetro) • The 6th Target (with Maxine Paetro) • 7th Heaven (with Maxine Paetro) • 8th Confession (with Maxine Paetro) • 9th Judgement (with Maxine Paetro) • 10th Anniversary (with Maxine Paetro) • 11th Hour (with Maxine Paetro) • 12th of Never (with Maxine Paetro) • Unlucky 13 (with Maxine Paetro)

  PRIVATE NOVELS

  Private (with Maxine Paetro) • Private London (with Mark Pearson) • Private Games (with Mark Sullivan) • Private: No. 1 Suspect (with Maxine Paetro) • Private Berlin (with Mark Sullivan) • Private Down Under (with Michael White) • Private L.A. (with Mark Sullivan) • Private India (with Ashwin Sanghi) • Private Vegas (with Maxine Paetro, to be published January 2015)

  NYPD RED SERIES

  NYPD Red (with Marshall Karp) • NYPD Red 2 (with Marshall Karp)

  STAND-ALONE THRILLERS

  Sail (with Howard Roughan) • Swimsuit (with Maxine Paetro) • Don’t Blink (with Howard Roughan) • Postcard Killers (with Liza Marklund) • Toys (with Neil McMahon) • Now You See Her (with Michael Ledwidge) • Kill Me If You Can (with Marshall Karp) • Guilty Wives (with David Ellis) • Zoo (with Michael Ledwidge) • Second Honeymoon (with Howard Roughan) • Mistress (with David Ellis) • Invisible (with David Ellis)

  NON-FICTION

  Torn Apart (with Hal and Cory Friedman) • The Murder of King Tut (with Martin Dugard)

  ROMANCE

  Sundays at Tiffany’s (with Gabrielle Charbonnet) • The Christmas Wedding (with Richard DiLallo) • First Love (with Emily Raymond)

  FAMILY OF PAGE-TURN
ERS

  MIDDLE SCHOOL BOOKS

  Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (with Chris Tebbetts) • Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! (with Chris Tebbetts) • Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar (with Lisa Papademetriou) • Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill (with Chris Tebbetts) • Middle School: Ultimate Showdown (with Julia Bergen) • Middle School: Save Rafe! (with Chris Tebbetts, to be published October 2014)

  I FUNNY SERIES

  I Funny (with Chris Grabenstein) • I Even Funnier (with Chris Grabenstein) • I Totally Funniest (with Chris Grabenstein, to be published January 2015)

  TREASURE HUNTERS SERIES

  Treasure Hunters (with Chris Grabenstein) • Treasure Hunters: Danger Down the Nile (with Chris Grabenstein, to be published September 2014)

  HOUSE OF ROBOTS

  House of Robots (with Chris Grabenstein, to be published November 2014)

  HOMEROOM DIARIES

  Homeroom Diaries (with Lisa Papademetriou)

  MAXIMUM RIDE SERIES

  The Angel Experiment • School’s Out Forever • Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports • The Final Warning • Max • Fang • Angel • Nevermore

  CONFESSIONS SERIES

  Confessions of a Murder Suspect (with Maxine Paetro) • Confessions: The Private School Murders (with Maxine Paetro) • Confessions: The Paris Mysteries (with Maxine Paetro, to be published October 2014)

  WITCH & WIZARD SERIES

  Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet) • The Gift (with Ned Rust) • The Fire (with Jill Dembowski) • The Kiss (with Jill Dembowski) • The Lost (with Emily Raymond, to be published November 2014)

  DANIEL X SERIES

  The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge) • Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust) • Demons and Druids (with Adam Sadler) • Game Over (with Ned Rust) • Armageddon (with Chris Grabenstein)

  GRAPHIC NOVELS

  Daniel X: Alien Hunter (with Leopoldo Gout) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vols. 1–8 (with NaRae Lee)

  For more information about James Patterson’s novels, visit www.jamespatterson.co.uk

  Or become a fan on Facebook

  For Kevin and Blaithin Durkin and family

  PROLOGUE

  CALIFORNIA LEAVING

  ONE

  LOS ANGELES

  THE WORK VAN WAS a new Mercedes, white and high roofed, with the bloodred words TURNKEY LOCKSMITH hand-painted on its side.

  At a little before 7 a.m., it was winding through the Hollywood Hills northwest of LA, the steady drone of its diesel engine briefly rising in pitch as it turned onto the long climb of Kirkwood Drive in Laurel Canyon. Two hundred feet below the intersection of Kirkwood and Oak, the van coasted to a crackling stop on the gravel shoulder of the secluded road and shut off its engine. A minute passed, then two. No one got out.

  As the bald Hispanic driver flipped down the visor to get the sun out of his eyes, he spotted a mule deer nosing out through the steep hillside’s thick underbrush across the street.

  Go for a lung shot, he thought as he imagined getting a bead on it with the new compound hunting bow his girlfriend had gotten him for his birthday. Track the blood trail down between the infinity pools and twenty-person funkadelic hot tubs before lashing it to the van’s front grille. See how that would go down with George Clooney and k. d. lang and the rest of the Laurel Canyon faithful.

  He was feigning a bow draw when the elegant deer suddenly noticed him and bolted. The driver sighed, leaned slightly to his right, and depressed the intercom button under the drink holder.

  “How’s this? Line of sight OK?” he said.

  “Yes. Maintain here until the hand-off, then head for position two,” intercommed back the sharp-featured, copper-haired woman sitting directly behind the driver in the sealed-off back of the high-tech surveillance van.

  There was a dull mechanical hum as the woman flicked the joystick for the high-definition video camera concealed in the van’s roof. On the console’s flat screen in front of her, an off-white stucco bungalow a hundred and fifty feet up the canyon slowly came into view.

  She panned the camera over the bungalow’s short, steep driveway of bishop’s hat paver stones, the broken terracotta roof tiles above its front door, the live oaks and lemon trees in its side yard. She’d been here several times before and knew the target house as well as her own at this point.

  She was halfway through the tea-filled Tervis tumbler from her kit bag when a truck slowed in front of the target house. It was a new Ford Expedition SUV, glossy black with heavily tinted windows. After it reversed up the driveway almost butt-up against the garage, the passenger-side door opened and out stepped a lanky middle-aged white man in a gray business suit. He adjusted his Oakley sport sunglasses for a moment before he reached into the open door and retrieved what appeared to be a military-issue M-16.

  Then, up on the porch above him, the bungalow’s front door opened and Detective Michael Bennett came out of the house.

  The woman almost spilled the tea in her lap as she quickly panned the camera left and zoomed in on Bennett and the crowd of people coming out behind him. His kids were in cartoon-character pj’s, their tan and striking blond nanny, Mary Catherine, in a bathrobe, drying her hands with a dish towel. One of the Bennett boys—was Trent his name? Yes, Trent—immediately started climbing out over the stair’s cast-iron rail, until Mary Catherine pulled him back by his collar.

  The cacophony of the family’s calls and laughter rang in her earphone as she turned up the volume on the van’s shotgun mike.

  “Arrivederci,” Bennett said playfully to his rambunctious family as he went down the stairs. “Sayonara, auf Wiedersehen. And, oh, yeah. Later, guys.”

  The woman in the van watched silently as Bennett smiled and crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out at his family. He was pushing forty, but still tall and trim and handsome in his dark-blue suit. Biting at her lower lip, she didn’t stop focusing until his dimples and brown eyes slid out of the bottom of the frame into the SUV.

  As the Ford rocketed out into the street, the copper-haired woman had already put down the joystick and was wheeling the captain’s chair around toward the three men in bulky tactical gear sitting and sweating on the steel bench behind her.

  If it hadn’t been for the glistening snub-barreled Heckler & Koch machine guns in their laps, the large men could have been professional football players. Wide receivers in the huddle waiting for the quarterback to call the next play.

  “To repeat one last time,” she said calmly as the work van’s engine suddenly roared to life and they lurched into the street. “Front door, side door, back door. When the doors pop, you will stay low until you are in position.”

  The poised woman quickly lifted her own submachine gun from the foam-lined hard case at her feet. Easily and expertly, she worked the H&K MP7’s action, slamming the first HK 4.6×30mm cartridge into the gun’s chamber with a loud snap.

  “This isn’t a drill, gentlemen,” she said, looking up at the Bennett safe house growing rapidly now on the flat screen.

  “Welcome to life and death.”

  TWO

  “SO-OO,” I SUDDENLY CALLED out into the SUV’s dead silence after five minutes of zigzagging up and down and hither and yon over the roller-coaster roads of the Hollywood Hills. “Anybody read any good books lately?”

  I smiled encouragingly at each of the four large gentlemen sitting around me. But try as I might, I couldn’t get the conversational ball rolling. Not one of the armed-to-the-teeth business-attired behemoths I was riding with smiled back or even said a word. I thought briefly about trying to start up a hearty round of “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to break the ice, but then I finally dropped my grin and shrugged.

  “Yeah, me neither,” I mumbled as I turned back to the bulletproof window. “Exactly. Who reads?”

  I guess I couldn’t really blame the fellas for ignoring me. My US Marshal buddies were busy at work, busy keeping th
eir eyes peeled for things like snipers and machine-gun ambushes and IEDs as we made our way from my Hollywood Hills safe house toward downtown Los Angeles.

  I was being accompanied by the marshals so early this Monday morning because of a trial. The DEA had tried and convicted five of the recently deceased Manuel “the Sun God” Perrine’s Tepito cartel pals in a huge coke bust and were about to sentence the drug soldiers today.

  I was involved because, in addition to the drug charges, the cartel death squad had already been convicted in absentia of the murder of a federal ADA in New York, a woman named Tara McLellan who had been a very close friend of mine.

  I’d spoken to her still-devastated family and, death threats or no death threats, I was going to the courtroom today to speak for her at the victim impact statement.

  On a happier note, after the trial, it was going to be checkout time for me and the Bennett clan from the Hotel California. The Golden State had been a nice place to visit, but we were finally going back home to the Big Apple where we belonged.

  Myself, and especially my stomach, really couldn’t have been happier. The four corners of my carb-jonesing Irish heart—real pizza, real bagels, real rolls, and especially real Italian bread—were a mere day away.

  As was our freedom from all this aggravating hiding and security, I thought, glancing at the marshals, who had been nothing but expert in their care of my family during our time in the witness protection program.

 
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