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The Big Bad Wolf : Alex Cross Series : Book 9 - James Patterson

The Big Bad Wolf

Alex Cross Series : Book 9

Paperback

Published: 1st October 2004
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The 19th national bestseller by Patterson marks Alex Cross's debut with the FBI. His first case: beautiful women across the country are being kidnapped and possibly sold into slavery. Behind this depraved scheme stands The Wolf, a master criminal who brings a new reign of terror to organized crime.

Alex Cross's first case since joining the FBI has his new colleagues stymied. Across the country, beautiful women are being kidnapped-to be bought and sold as slaves. Behind this depraved scheme stands a shadowy figure known only as The Wolf, a master criminal who has brought a new reign of terror to organized crime. With Alex's personal life in chaos because of his ex-fiancée's return and with the FBI's caution testing his patience, Alex has to go out on his own. For to stalk a ruthless predator without a name or a face, Alex Cross must become a lone wolf himself...

About The Author

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 has formed a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy.

"James Patterson does everything but stick our finger in a light socket to give us a buzz."

Chapter 1

THE PHIPPS PLAZA shopping mall in Atlanta was a showy montage of pink-granite floors, sweeping bronze-trimmed staircases, gilded Napoleonic design, lighting that sparkled like halogen spotlights. A man and a woman watched the target - 'Mom' - as she left Niketown with sneakers and whatnot for her three daughters packed under one arm.

'She is very pretty. I see why the Wolf likes her. She reminds me of Claudia Schiffer,' said the male observer. 'You see the resemblance?'

'Everybody reminds you of Claudia Schiffer, Slava. Don't lose her. Don't lose your pretty little Claudia or the Wolf will have you for breakfast.'

The abduction team, the Couple, was dressed expensively, and that made it easy for them to blend in at Phipps Plaza, in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. At eleven in the morning, Phipps wasn't very crowded, and that could be a problem.

It helped that their target was rushing about in a world of her own, a tight little cocoon of mindless activity, buzzing in and out of Gucci, Caswell-Massey, Niketown, then Gapkids and Parisian (to see her personal shopper, Gina), without paying the slightest attention to who was around her in any of the stores. She worked from an At-a-Glance leather-bound diary and made her appointed rounds in a quick, efficient, practiced manner, buying faded jeans for Gwynne, a leather dop kit for Brendan, Nike diving watches for Meredith and Brigid. She even made an appointment at Carter-Barnes to get her hair done.

The target had style and also a pleasant smile for the salespeople who waited on her in the tony stores. She held doors for those coming up behind her, even men, who went out of their way to thank the attractive blonde. 'Mom' was sexy in the wholesome, clean-cut way of many upscale American suburban women. And she did resemble the supermodel Claudia Schiffer. That was her undoing.

According to the job's specs, Mrs. Elizabeth Connolly was the mother of three girls; she was a graduate of Vassar, class of '87, with what she called 'a degree in art history that is practically worthless in the real world - whatever that is - but invaluable to me.' She'd been a reporter for the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before she was married. She was thirty-seven, though she didn't look much more than thirty. She had her hair in a velvet barrette that morning, wore a short-sleeved turtleneck, a crocheted sweater, slim-fitting slacks. She was bright, religious - but sane about it - and tough when she needed to be, at least according to the specs.

Well, she would need to be tough soon. Mrs. Elizabeth Connolly was about to be abducted. She had been purchased, and she was probably the most expensive item for sale that morning at Phipps Plaza. The price: $150,000.



Chapter 2

LIZZIE CONNOLLY FELT LIGHT-HEADED and she wondered if her quirky blood sugar was acting up again.

She made a mental note to pick up Trudie Styler's cookbook - she kind of admired Trudie, who was cofounder of the Rainforest Foundation as well as Sting's wife. She seriously doubted she would get through this day with her head still screwed on straight, not twisted around like the poor little girl in The Exorcist. Linda Blair, wasn't that the actress's name? Lizzie was pretty sure it was. Oh, who cared? What difference did trivia make?

What a merry-go-round today was going to be. First, it was Gwynnie's birthday, and the party for twenty-one of her closest school buddies, eleven girls, ten boys, was scheduled for one o'clock at the house. Lizzie had rented a bouncy house, and she had already prepared lunch for the children, not to mention for their moms or nannies. Lizzie had even rented a Mister Softee ice-cream truck for three hours. But you never knew what to expect at these birthday gigs - other than laughter, tears, thrills, and spills.

After the birthday bash, Brigid had swimming lessons, and Merry had a trip to the dentist scheduled. Brendan, her husband of fourteen years, had left her a 'short list' of his current needs. Of course everything was needed A.S.A.P.S. which meant as soon as possible, sweetheart.

After she picked up a T-shirt with rhinestones for Gwynnie at Gapkids, all she had left to buy was Brendan's replacement dop kit. Oh, yeah, and her hair appointment. And ten minutes with her savior at Parisian, Gina Sabellico.

She kept her cool through the final stages - never let them see you sweat - then she hurried to her new Mercedes 320 station wagon, which was safely tucked in a corner on the P3 level of the underground garage at Phipps. No time for her favorite rooibos tea at Teavana.

Hardly anybody was in the garage on a Monday morning, but she nearly bumped into a man with long dark hair. Lizzie smiled automatically at him, revealing perfect, recently whitened and brightened teeth, warmth, and sexiness - even when she didn't want to show it.

She wasn't really paying attention to anyone - thinking ahead to the fast-approaching birthday party - when a woman she passed suddenly grabbed her around the chest as if Lizzie were a running back for the Atlanta Falcons football team trying to pass through the 'line of spinach,' as her daughter Gwynne had once called it. The woman's grip was like a vise - she was strong as hell.

'What are you doing? Are you crazy?' Lizzie finally screamed her loudest, squirmed her hardest, dropped her shopping bags, heard something break. 'Hey! Somebody, help! Get off of me!'

Then a second assailant, the BMW sweatshirt guy, grabbed her legs and held on tight, hurt her, actually, as he brought her down onto the filthy, greasy parking-lot concrete along with the woman. 'Don't kick me, bitch!' he yelled in her face. 'Don't you fucking dare kick me.'

But Lizzie didn't stop kicking - or screaming either. 'Help me. Somebody, help! Somebody, please!'

Then both of them lifted her up in the air as if she weighed next to nothing. The man mumbled something to the woman. Not English. Middle European, maybe. Lizzie had a housekeeper from Slovakia. Was there a connection?

The woman attacker gripped her around the chest with one arm and used her free hand to push aside tennis and golf stuff, hurriedly clearing a space in the back of the station wagon.

Then Lizzie was roughly shoved inside her own car. A gauzy, foul-smelling cloth was pushed hard against her nose and mouth, and held there so tightly it hurt her teeth. She tasted blood. First blood, she thought. My blood. Adrenaline surged through her body, and she began fighting back again with all her strength. Punching and kicking. She felt like a captured animal striking out for its freedom.

'Easy,' the man said. 'Easy-peasy-Japanesy . . . Elizabeth Connolly.'

Elizabeth Connolly? They know me? How? Why? What is going on here?

'You're a very sexy mom,' said the man. 'I see why the Wolf likes you.'

Wolf? Who's the Wolf? What was happening to her? Who did she know named Wolf?

Then the thick, acrid fumes from the cloth overpowered Lizzie and she went lights out. She was driven away in the back of her station wagon.

But only across the street to the Lenox Square Mall - where Lizzie Connolly was transferred into a blue Dodge van that then sped away. Purchase complete.

ISBN: 9780446610223
ISBN-10: 0446610224
Series: Alex Cross Novels
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 418
Published: 1st October 2004
Publisher: Time Warner Trade Publishing
Dimensions (cm): 17.5 x 10.8  x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.21