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Women's Murder Club [06] The 6th Target, страница 1

 

Women's Murder Club [06] The 6th Target
 

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Women's Murder Club [06] The 6th Target


  Copyright © 2007 by James Patterson

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  Little Brown and Company

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com

  The Little Brown and Company name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  First eBook Edition: May 2007

  ISBN: 978-0-316-00516-6

  Contents

  Copyright

  Prologue: DAY-TRIPPER

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Part One: DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN?

  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

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Part Two: BROWN-EYED GIRL

  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

  Part Three: THE ACCOUNTING

  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

  Part Four: THE PEOPLE VS. ALFRED BRINKLEY

  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

  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

  Chapter 110

  Chapter 111

  Chapter 112

  Chapter 113

  Chapter 114

  Chapter 115

  Part Five: FRED-A-LITO-LINDO

  Chapter 116

  Chapter 117

  Chapter 118

  Chapter 119

  Chapter 120

  Chapter 121

  Chapter 122

  Chapter 123

  Chapter 124

  Chapter 125

  Chapter 126

  Chapter 127

  Chapter 128

  Chapter 129

  Chapter 130

  Chapter 131

  Chapter 132

  Chapter 133

  Epilogue: THE 6TH ROUND

  Chapter 134

  Chapter 135

  Chapter 136

  About the Authors

  The Novels of James Patterson

  FEATURING ALEX CROSS

  Cross

  Roses Are Red

  Mary, Mary

  Pop Goes the Weasel

  London Bridges

  Cat & Mouse

  The Big Bad Wolf

  Jack & Jill

  Four Blind Mice

  Kiss the Girls

  Violets Are Blue

  Along Came a Spider

  THE WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB

  The 6th Target(and Maxine Paetro)

  The 5th Horseman (and Maxine Paetro)

  4th of July (and Maxine Paetro)

  3rd Degree (and Andrew Gross)

  2nd Chance (and Andrew Gross)

  1st to Die

  OTHER BOOKS

  The Quickie (and Michael Ledwidge)

  Step on a Crack (and Michael Ledwidge)

  Judge & Jury (and Andrew Gross)

  Maximum Ride: School’s Out — Forever

  Beach Road (and Peter de Jonge)

  Lifeguard (and Andrew Gross)

  Maximum Ride

  Honeymoon (and Howard Roughan)

  SantaKid

  Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

  The Lake House

  The Jester (and Andrew Gross)

  The Beach House (and Peter de Jonge)

  Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

  Cradle and All

  Black Friday

  When the Wind Blows

  See How They Run

  Miracle on the 17th Green (and Peter de Jonge)

  Hide & Seek

  The Midnight Club

  Season of the Machete

  The Thomas Berryman Number

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

  Our thanks and gratitude to these top professionals, who were so generous with their time and expertise: author and psychiatrist Dr. Maria Paige; Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, forensic pathologist and ME of Trumbull County, Ohio; top cop Captain Richard Conklin, Stamford, Connecticut, PD; Allen Ross, MD, Montague, Massachusetts; and legal experts Philip Hoffman, New York City; Melody Fujimori, San Francisco; and criminal defense attorney extraordinaire Mickey Sherman, Stamford, Connecticut.

  And special thanks to our excellent researchers, Don MacBain, Ellie Shurtleff, and Lynn Colomello.

  Prologue

  DAY-TRIPPER

  Chapter 1

  A KILLER IN WAITING, Fred Brinkley slumps in the blue-upholstered banquette on the top deck of the ferry. The November sun glares down like a big white eye as the catamaran plows the San Francisco Bay, and Fred Brinkley glares right back at the sun.

  A shadow falls across him, a kid’s voice asking, “Mister, could you take our picture?”

  Fred shakes his head — no, no, no — anger winding him up like a watch spring, like a wire tightening around his head.

  He wants to smash the kid like a bug.

  Fred averts his eyes, sings inside his he
ad, Ay, ay, ay, ay, Sau-sa-lito-lindo, trying to shut down the voices. He puts his hand on Bucky to comfort himself, feeling him through his blue nylon Windbreaker, but still the voices pound in his brain like a jackhammer.

  Loser. Dog shit.

  Gulls call out, screaming like children. Overhead, the sun burns through the overcast sky and turns him as transparent as glass. They know what he’s done.

  Passengers in shorts and visors line the rails, taking pictures of Angel Island, of Alcatraz, of the Golden Gate Bridge.

  A sailboat flies by, mainsail double-reefed, foam flecking the rails, and Fred doubles over as the bad thing whips into his mind. He sees the boom swing. Hears the loud crack. Oh, God! The sailboat!

  Someone has to pay for this!

  Startling him, the ferry’s engines grind into reverse and the deck vibrates as the ferry comes into dock.

  Fred stands, works his way through the crowd, passing eight white tables, lines of scuffed blue chairs, his fellow ferry riders giving him the eye.

  He enters the open compartment at the bow, sees a mother berating her son, a boy of nine or ten with light-brown hair. “You’re driving me crazy!” the woman shouts.

  Fred feels the wire snap. Someone has to pay.

  His right hand slips into his jacket pocket — finds Bucky.

  He slips his finger into the trigger loop.

  The ferry lurches as it bumps the mooring. People grab on to one another, laughing. Lines snake out from the boat, bow and aft.

  Fred’s eyes shoot to the woman who is still belittling her son. She’s small, wearing tan clam diggers, her breasts outlined in the soft skin of her white blouse, nipples pointing straight out.

  “What’s wrong with you, anyway?” she yells over the engines’ roar. “You really piss me off, buster.”

  Bucky is in Fred’s hand, the Smith & Wesson Model 10, pulsing with a life of its own.

  The voice booms, Kill her. Kill her. She’s out of control!

  Bucky points between the woman’s breasts.

  BLAM.

  Fred feels the jolt of the gun’s recoil, sees the woman jump back with a little hurt yelp, a red stain blooming on her white blouse.

  Good!

  The little boy follows his mother’s fall to the deck with his big round eyes, strawberry ice cream plopping out of his cone, pee spreading across the front of his pants.

  The boy did a bad thing, too.

  BLAM.

  Chapter 2

  BLINDING WHITE SAILS fill Fred’s mind as blood spills onto the deck. Trusty Bucky is hot in his hand. Fred’s eyes pan across the deck.

  The voice in his head roars, Run. Get away. You didn’t mean to do it.

  Out of the corner of his eye, Fred sees a big man charge him, rage on his face, hell in his eyes. Fred straightens his arm.

  BLAM.

  Another man, Asian, hard black eyes, a white line for a mouth, makes a grab for Bucky.

  BLAM.

  A black woman stands nearby, locked in place by the crowd. She turns toward him, round cheeked, wide-eyed. Stares into his face and . . . reads his mind.

  “Okay, son,” she says, reaching out a trembling hand, “that’s enough, now. Give me the gun.”

  She knows what he did. How does she know?

  BLAM.

  Fred feels relief flood through him as the mind-reading woman goes down. People in the small forward compartment move in waves, cowering, shifting left, then right as Fred swings his head.

  They are afraid of him. Afraid of him.

  At his feet, the black woman holds a cell phone in her bloody hands. Breath rasping, she presses numbers with her thumb. No, you don’t! Fred steps on the woman’s wrist. Then he bends low to look into her eyes.

  “You should have stopped me,” he says through clenched teeth. “That was your job.” Bucky screws his muzzle into her temple.

  “Don’t!” she begs. “Please.”

  Someone yells, “Mom!”

  A skinny black kid, maybe seventeen, eighteen, comes toward him with a length of pipe over his shoulder. He’s holding it like a bat.

  Fred pulls the trigger as the ship lurches — BLAM.

  The shot goes wide. The metal pipe falls, skitters across the deck, and the kid runs to the woman, throws himself down. Protecting her?

  People dive under the benches, and their screams rise up around him like licks of fire.

  The noise of the engines is joined by the metallic clanking of the gangway locking into place. Bucky stays trained on the crowd as Fred looks over the railing.

  He judges the distance.

  It’s a drop of four feet to the gangway substructure, then a pretty long leap to the dock.

  Fred pockets Bucky and puts both hands on the rail. He vaults over and lands on the flats of his Nikes. A cloud crosses the sun, cloaking him, making him invisible.

  Move quickly, sailor. Go.

  And he does it — makes the leap to the dock and runs toward the farmer’s market, where he dissolves into the throng filling the parking lot.

  He walks, almost casually, a half block to Embarcadero.

  He’s humming when he jogs down the steps to the BART station, still humming as he catches the train home.

  You did it, sailor.

  Part One

  DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN?

  Chapter 3

  I WAS OFF DUTY that Saturday morning in early November, called to the scene of a homicide because my business card had been found in the victim’s pocket.

  I stood inside the darkened living room of a two-family house on Seventeenth Street, looking down at a wretched little scuzzball named Jose Alonzo. He was shirtless, paunchy, slumped on a sagging couch of indeterminate color, his wrists cuffed behind him. His head hung to his chest, and tears ran down his chin.

  I had no pity for him.

  “Was he Mirandized?” I asked Inspector Warren Jacobi, my former partner who now reported to me. Jacobi had just turned fifty-one and had seen more homicide victims in his twenty-five years on the job than any ten cops should see in a lifetime.

  “Yeah, I did it, Lieutenant. Before he confessed.” Jacobi’s fists twitched at his sides. Disgust crossed his timeworn face.

  “Do you understand your rights?” I asked Alonzo.

  He nodded and began sobbing again. “I shouldn’ta done it, but she made me so mad.”

  A toddler with a dirty white bow in her hair, wet diapers sagging to her dimpled knees, clung to her father’s leg. Her wailing just about broke my heart.

  “What did Rosa do to make you mad?” I asked Alonzo. “I really want to know.”

  Rosa Alonzo was on the floor, her pretty face turned toward the flaking caramel-colored wall, her head split open by the iron her husband had used to knock her down, then take her life.

  The ironing board had collapsed around her like a dead horse, and the smell of burned spray starch was in the air.

  The last time I’d seen Rosa, she’d told me how she couldn’t leave her husband because he’d said he’d hunt her down and kill her.

  I wished with all my heart she’d taken the baby and run.

  Inspector Richard Conklin, Jacobi’s partner, the newest and youngest member of my squad, walked into the kitchen. Rich poured cat food into a bowl for an old orange tabby cat that was mewing on the red Formica table. Interesting.

  “He could be alone here for a long time,” Conklin said over his shoulder.

  “Call animal control.”

  “Said they were busy, Lieutenant.” Conklin turned on the taps, filled a water bowl.

  Alonzo spoke up.

  “You know what she said, Officer? She said, ‘Get a job.’ I just snapped, you understand?”

  I stared at him until he turned away from me, cried out to his dead wife, “I didn’t mean to do it, Rosa. Please. Give me another chance.”

  Jacobi reached for the man’s arm, brought him to his feet, saying, “Yeah, she forgives you, pal. Let’s take a ride.”

  The baby l
aunched a new round of howls as Patty Whelk from Child Welfare came through the open door.

  “Hey, Lindsay,” she said, stepping around the victim, “who’s Little Miss Precious?”

  I picked up the child, took the dirty ribbon out of her curls, and handed her over to Patty.

  “Anita Alonzo,” I said sadly, “meet the system.”

  Patty and I exchanged helpless looks as she jostled the little girl into a comfortable position on her hip.

  I left Patty rummaging in the bedroom for a clean diaper. While Conklin stayed behind to wait for the ME, I followed Jacobi and Alonzo out to the street.

  I said, “See ya,” to Jacobi and climbed into my three-year-old Explorer parked next to six yards of garbage out by the street. I’d just turned the key when my Nextel bleeped on my belt. It’s Saturday. Leave me the hell alone.

  I caught the call on the second ring.

  It was my boss, Chief Anthony Tracchio. An unusual tightness strained his voice as he raised it over the keening sound of sirens.

  “Boxer,” he said, “there’s been a shooting on one of the ferries. The Del Norte. Three people are dead. A couple more wounded. I need you here. Pronto.”

  Chapter 4

  I HAD A REALLY BAD FEELING, thinking ahead to whatever hell had brought the chief out of his comfy home in Oakland on a Saturday. The bad feeling mushroomed when I saw half a dozen black-and-whites parked at the entrance to the pier, and two more patrol cars up on the sidewalk at either end of the Ferry Building.

  A patrolman called out, “This way, Lieu,” and waved me down the south driveway leading to the dock.

  I drove past the police prowlers, ambulances, and fire rigs, and parked outside the terminal. I opened my door and stepped out into the sixty-degree haze. About a twenty-knot breeze had whipped up a stiff chop on the bay, making the Del Norte rock at her mooring.

 
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