Just when Alex Cross thought his life was calming down into a routine of patients and therapy sessions, he finds himself back in the game — this time to catch a criminal mastermind like no other. Here's an excerpt from James Patterson's new novel, “Double Cross.”
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AT THE TIME of his formal sentencing in Alexandria, Virginia, for eleven known murders, the former FBI agent and pattern killer Kyle Craig, known as the Mastermind, was lectured and condescended to by U.S. District Judge Nina Wolff. At least that’s the way he took the judicial scolding, and he definitely took it personally, and very much to heart.
“Mr. Craig, you are, by any criteria I know, the most evil human being who has ever come before me in this courtroom, and some despicable characters have come —”
Craig interrupted, “Thank you so very much, Judge Wolff. I’m honored by your kind and, I’m quite sure, thoughtful words. Who wouldn’t be pleased to be the best? Do continue. This is music to my ears.”
Judge Wolff nodded calmly, then went on as if Craig hadn’t spoken a word.
“In reparation for these unspeakable murders and repeated acts of torture, you are hereby sentenced to death. Until such sentence is carried out, you will spend the remainder of your life in a supermaximum-security prison. Once there, you will be cut off from human contact as most of us know it. You will never see the sun again. Take him out of my sight!”
“Very dramatic,” Kyle Craig called to Judge Wolff as he was escorted from the courtroom, “but it’s not going to happen that way. You’ve just given yourself a death sentence.
“I will see the sun again, and I’ll see you, Judge Wolff. You can bet on it. I’ll see Alex Cross again. For sure, I will see Alex Cross. And his charming family. You have my word on it, my solemn promise before all these witnesses, this pathetic audience of thrill seekers and press hyenas, and all the rest of you who honor me with your presence today. You haven’t seen the last of Kyle Craig.”
In the audience, among the “thrill seekers and press hyenas,” was Alex Cross. He listened to his former friend’s empty threats. And yet he couldn’t help hoping that ADX Florence was as secure as it was supposed to be.
FOUR YEARS TO THE DAY LATER, Kyle Craig was still being held, or perhaps
was the more apt description, in the maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, about a hundred miles from Denver. He hadn’t seen the sun in all that time. He was cut off from most human contact. His anger was growing, blossoming, and that was a terrifying thing to consider.
His fellow inmates included the Unabomber — Ted Kaczynski; Oklahoma City conspirator Terry Nichols; and Al Qaeda terrorists Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui. None of them had required much sunblock lately either. The prisoners were kept locked away in soundproof, seven-by-twelve concrete cells for twenty-three hours every day, completely isolated from anyone other than their lawyers and high-security guards. The solitary experience at ADX Florence had been compared to “dying every single day.”
Even Kyle admitted that escaping from Florence was a daunting challenge, maybe impossible. In fact, none of the prisoners inside had ever succeeded, or even come close. Still, one could only hope, one could dream, one could plot and exercise the old imagination. One could most definitely plan a little revenge.
His case was currently on appeal, and his lawyer from Denver, Mason Wainwright, visited once a week. This day, he arrived as he always did, promptly at four p.m.
Mason Wainwright sported a long silver-gray ponytail, scuffed black cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat worn jauntily back on his head. He had on a buckskin jacket, a snakeskin belt, and large horn-rimmed glasses that gave him the appearance of a rather studious country-and-western singer, or a country-and-western-loving college professor, take your pick. He seemed a curious choice as an attorney, but Kyle Craig had a reputation for brilliance, so the selection of Wainwright wasn’t seriously questioned.
Craig and the lawyer hugged when Wainwright arrived. As he usually did, Kyle whispered near the lawyer’s ear, “There’s no videotaping permitted in this room? That rule is still in force? You’re sure of it, Mr. Wainwright?”
“There’s no videotape,” answered Wainwright. “You have attorney-client privilege, even in this pathetic hellhole. I’m sorry that I can’t do more for you. I sincerely apologize for that. You know how I feel about you.”
“I don’t question your loyalty, Mason.”
Following the hug, Craig and the lawyer sat on opposite sides of a gray metal conference table, which was bolted securely to the concrete floor. So were the chairs.
Kyle now asked the lawyer eight specific questions, always the same questions, in session after session. He asked them rapidly, leaving no time for any answers by his attorney, who just sat there in respectful silence.
“That great consoler of mass-murdering prisoners, Truman Capote, once said that he was afraid of two things, and two things only. So which of these is worse, betrayal or abandonment?” Kyle Craig began, then went right to the next question.
“What was the very first thing you forced yourself not to cry over, and how old were you when it occurred?”
And then, “Tell me this, Counselor: what is the average length of time it takes a drowning person to lose consciousness?
“Here’s something I’m curious about — do most murders take place indoors or out?
“Why is laughing at a funeral considered unacceptable, while crying at a wedding is not?
“Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping if all the flesh is removed from the hand?
“How many ways are there to skin a cat, if you wish it to remain alive through the entire process?
“And, oh yes, how are my Boston Red Sox doing?”
Then there was silence between Kyle and the lawyer. Occasionally, the convicted murderer would ask a few more specifics — perhaps additional detail about the Red Sox or about the Yankees, whom he despised, or about some interesting killer working on the outside whom the lawyer had informed him about.
Then came another hug as Mason Wainwright was about to leave the room.
The lawyer whispered against Kyle’s cheek. “They’re ready to go. The preparations are complete. There will be important doings in Washington, D.C., soon. There will be payback. We expect a large audience. All in your honor.”
Kyle Craig didn’t say anything to this news, but he put his index fingers together and pressed them hard against the lawyer’s skull. Very hard indeed, and he made an unmistakable impression that traveled instantly to Mason Wainwright’s brain.
The fingers were in the shape of a cross.
Excerpted from “Double Cross” by James Patterson Copyright © 2007 James Patterson. Excerpted by permission of Hachette Book Group USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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