Exclusive Excerpt from James Patterson’s latest Novel: The Black Book!
PATTI HARNEY stops her unmarked sedan two blocks shy of her destination, the narrow streets packed with patrol cars, the light bars on top of the units shooting a chaos of color into the night. Must be twenty squad cars at least.
Patti ditches her car, puts the lanyard around her neck, her star dangling over her T-shirt. The air outside is unseasonably cold for early April. Still, Patti feels nothing but heat.
She runs a block before reaching the yellow tape of the outside perimeter, the first officer stepping forward to stop her, then seeing her star and letting her pass. She doesn’t know that perimeter cop, and he doesn’t know her. All the better.
Getting closer now. The sweat stinging her eyes, the T-shirt wet against her chest despite the cold, her nerves jangling.
She knows the condo building even without following the trail of police officers to the place where they’re gathered under the awning outside. One of those cops—a detective, like Patti—recognizes her, and his face immediately softens.
“Oh, Jesus, Patti—”
She rushes past him into the lobby of the building. It’s more like a funeral than a crime scene, officers and plainclothes detectives with their eyes dropped, anguished, their faces tear-streaked, some consoling each other. No time for that.
She works her way toward the elevator, casting her eyes into the corners of the lobby for security cameras—old habit, instinct, like breathing—then sees a group of techies, members of the Forensic Services Division, working the elevator, dusting it for prints, and she spins in her gym shoes and pushes through the door to the stairs. She knows it’s on the sixth floor. She knows which apartment.
She takes the stairs two at a time, her chest burning, her legs giving out, a riot breaking out in her stomach. Woozy and panicked, she stops on the third-floor landing, alone among the chaos, and squats down for a moment, grabbing her hair, collecting herself, her body trembling, her tears falling in fat drops onto the concrete.
You have to do this, she tells herself.
She motors up the remaining stairs, her legs rubbery, her chest burning, before she pushes through the door to the sixth floor.
Up here, it’s all business, photographs being taken, evidence technicians doing their thing, blue suits interviewing neighbors, and Ramsey from the ME’s office.
She takes a step, then another, but it’s as if she isn’t moving forward at all, gaining no ground, like she’s in some circus house of horrors—
“Can’t go in there.”
“Detective Harney. Patti!”
A hand taking hold of her arm. As if in slow motion, her eyes move across the face of the Wiz, the bushy mustache, the round face, the smell of cigar—
“Patti, I’m—Mary, mother of God—I’m so sorry.”
“He’s . . . he’s . . .” She can’t bring herself to finish the sentence. “They all are,” he says. “I’m sorry as hell to be the one to say it.”
She shakes her head, tries to wrangle her arm free.
“You can’t go in there, Patti. Not yet.”
The Wiz angles himself in front of her, blocking her from the door.
She finds the words somehow. “I’m a . . . I know how to . . . handle a crime scene.”
A crime scene. Like this is just another act of violence she would encounter in the course of her job.
“Not this one, Detective. Not yet. Give us a chance to—Patti, c’mon—”
She bats away his hands, drives him backwards. He struggles for a moment before he braces her shoulders.
“Patti, please,” he says. “Nobody should see their brother like this.”
She looks into his eyes, not really seeing him, trying to process everything, thinking that he’s right, that she doesn’t want to see him, because if she doesn’t see him he won’t be dead, he won’t really be gone—
The ding of the elevator.
But—the elevator’s been taken out of service. The boys with FSD were dusting it. Who’s using the elevator? Someone must have pulled rank—
“Chief of Ds is here,” someone says.
She looks over Wizniewski’s shoulder.
The tall, angular figure, those long strides, the beak nose—which she did not inherit.
“Dad,” she says, the word garbled in her throat, feeling every ounce of control vanishing.
Her father, chief of detectives Daniel Harney, a sport coat thrown over a rumpled shirt, his thinning hair uncombed, his eyes already shadowed. “Baby,” he says, his arms opening. “Oh, my little angel.”
“Is it true, Dad?” she speaks into his chest as he holds her tight, as if he would know, as if she’s a toddler again, looking to her father for all the answers in the universe.
“I want to see him,” says her father, not to her but to Wizniewski. He locks arms with Patti, as if escorting her down the aisle, and turns toward the door.
“I understand, sir,” says the Wiz, “but it’s—it’s not—brace yourself, sir.”
Her father looks down on her, his face bunched up, a dam holding back a storm. She nods back to him.
His voice breaks as he says, “Lead the way, Lieutenant.”
THE BLACK BOOK by James Patterson. Copyright © 2017 by James Patterson. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.