Unlucky 13, p.1

Unlucky 13, page 1

 part  #13 of  Women's Murder Club Series


Unlucky 13

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Unlucky 13


  About the Book

  About the Authors

  Also by James Patterson

  Title Page


  Prologue: Ka-Boom




  Part One: Save the Last Dance for Me

  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

  Part Two: Look Out. Ol’ Mackie’s Back.

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  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

  Part Three: Red Sky in the Morning

  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

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Part Four: Where’s the Beef?

  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

  Part Five: High Noon

  Chapter 103

  Chapter 104

  Chapter 105

  Chapter 106

  Chapter 107

  Chapter 108

  Chapter 109

  Chapter 110




  When two dead bodies are found inside a wrecked car on the Golden Gate Bridge, Detective Lindsay Boxer doubts it will be anything as simple as a traffic accident.

  The scene is more gruesome than anything she has seen before. It definitely wasn’t the crash that killed these people.

  While Lindsay starts to piece this case together, she gets a call she wasn’t expecting. Sightings of her ex-colleague-turned-ruthless-killer Mackie Morales have been reported.

  Wanted for three murders, Mackie has been in hiding since she escaped from custody. But now she’s ready to return to San Francisco and pay a visit to some old friends …


  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. In 2010, he was voted Author of the Year at the Children’s Choice Book Awards in New York.

  MAXINE PAETRO is the author of three novels and two works of non-fiction, and she is the co-author of more than a dozen books with James Patterson. She lives in New York with her husband.

  Also by James Patterson


  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)


  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)


  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) • Burn (with Michael Ledwidge, to be published September 2014)


  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)


  NYPD Red (with Marshall Karp) • NYPD Red 2 (with Marshall Karp, to be published June 2014)


  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, to be published July 2014)


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


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



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


  Confessions of a Murder Suspect (with Maxine Paetro) • Confessions: The Private School Murders (with Maxine Paetro)


  Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet) • The Gift (with Ned Rust) • The Fire (with Jill Dembowski) • The Kiss (with Jill Dembowski)


  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)


  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, to be published May 2014) • Middle School: Save Rafe! (with Chris Tebbetts, to be published July 2014)


  I Funny (with Chris Grabenstein) • I Even Funnier (with Chris Grabenstein)


  Treasure Hunters (with Chris Grabenstein)


  Daniel X: Alien Hunter (with Leopoldo Gout) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 1–7 (with NaRae Lee)

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

  Or become a fan on Facebook

  For Suzie and John, Brendan, Alex, and Jack




  IT WAS AN ugly Monday just after noon. There had been no sign of sun so far, just a thick fog that had put the blocks to traffic around the Golden Gate. I was behind the wheel of the squad car, and Inspector Rich Conklin, my partner of many years, was in the seat beside me when Claire called my cell phone.

  Claire Washburn is my closest friend, and also San Francisco’s Chief Medical Examiner. This call was strictly business.

  “Lindsay,” Claire shouted over the braying of car horns. “I’ve got two DBs in a single-car smash-up and I don’t know what the hell I’m looking at. If you and Richie are in the neighborhood, I could use another opinion.”

  She gave me her location, and I told her we’d be there as soon as weather and traffic permitted. I repeated to Rich what Claire had said and turned the car around.

  My partner is smart, steady, a glass-full type of guy, and on this particular day, he was pretty happy with himself.

  He said, “Claire wants us to look at a traffic fatality?”

  “She doubts it’s an accident.”

  I followed Lincoln through the Presidio and past the Crissy Field Overlook toward the bridge as Conklin called Brady and told him we were answering Claire’s call. He phoned Claire and said we were about eight minutes out, then picked up where he left off, asking my advice on his romantic dilemma.

  “It’s Tina’s birthday. We’ve been together for two months,” he said. “So what do I get her that means ‘I like you a lot so far’?”

  This line of conversation was tricky. Rich is like a younger brother to me. We’re tight. We talk about everything. But, his ex-girlfriend Cindy is my home girl. And Cindy was still suffering from their breakup six months ago. She hadn’t given up hope that she and Richie could get back together.

  To tell the truth, I was hoping for that, too.

  I kept my eyes on the road, staying on Lincoln, a two-laner flanked by historic buildings on the left and a parking lot on the right for visitors to the bridge. We drove slowly past the nifty old houses on Pilots’ Row and then hit a wall of traffic.

  “Looks like we’re walking,” I said.

  I braked on the shoulder, turned on the flashers, grabbed my Windbreaker, and locked up. Then my partner and I started up the incline. Richie didn’t miss a beat.

  “So I was thinking I’d get her a pair of earrings. Or does the ring in earring send too much of a message?”

  “Not unless they’re diamonds,” I said.

  “Hah,” said Conklin.

  I said, “Rich, in my humble opinion, you and Tina are at flowers and dinner. That’s safe, sweet, and her mother won’t send out invitations.”

  “Okay. And do I sign the card love or not?”

  I couldn’t help it. I rolled my eyes and threw a sigh.

  “Richie, do you love her? Or don’t you? You have to figure that one out.”

  He laughed.

  “Could you stop giggling?” I said.

  He gave me a salute and said, “Yes, ma’am, Sergeant Boxer, ma’am. And could you put in for a sense of humor?”

  “You’re asking for it,” I said.

  I gave him a little shove, and he laughed some more, and we kept walking up the incline, passing cars that were inching forward and passengers who were getting out, shouting curses into the fog.

  My cell phone rang again.

  Claire said, “Hurry up, okay? I can’t hold off the damned Bridge Authority much longer. The tow truck is here.”


  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.”


  THE LUNCH-HOUR RUSH had escalated from peeved to highly outraged. Traffic cops were taking crap from irate drivers, and TV choppers buzzed overhead like houseflies circling a warm apple pie.

  The tow truck operator called out in my direction, “Hey. Like, can someone extract the victims? We gotta open the bridge.”

  Here’s what I knew for sure: I was the ranking homicide cop on the scene, the primary investigator until the case was permanently assigned. Right now, my job was to protect the scene from contamination, and, no joke, the scene was a six-lane highway.

  I marched over to the tow-truck driver and told him, “Thanks, but the wreck is staying here and please extract your truck from my bridge.”

  As the tow truck moved out, I addressed my fellow law enforcement officers, saying, “Whatever this is, it’s not an accident. I’m locking the bridge down.”

  “Bravo,” Claire said. “We agree.”

  I dismissed nonessential personnel and phoned Charlie Clapper, head of CSU. I told him to drop whatever he might be doing and hustle over.

  “Jam on the gas and jack up the sirens,” I said.

  I reported in to Brady, told him what I knew. He said he would get hold of the chief and the mayor, and would be on scene ASAP.

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