By James Patterson

With David Inglish

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 5, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

When his wife disappears from a five-star hotel in Gstaad the morning after a party, Professor Monroe must track down the truth.

Professor Robert Monroe’s wife has vanished, and no one saw a thing. Was she kidnapped? Or did she run off with the handsome Italian she and Robert partied with the night before?

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Chapter 1

Ken is a long way from home, he thinks, as the cab passes the minarets of the Blue Mosque and a towering Roman aqueduct, a stark contrast to his gated community. He chuckles to himself and the cabdriver eyes him suspiciously in the rearview mirror. When the car stops at a light, a beggar taps on the glass, glaring inside. Istanbul needs some fucking gated communities.

The light turns green. The cab pushes through the confusion, winds through the narrow streets, and stops in front of the Spice Bazaar. Ken gets out.

Inside, vendors display pyramids of cinnamon, ginger, marigold, cumin, and sumac. The crowd ebbs and flows. A Turkish melody twists in the air. The smell of seared steak makes Ken’s mouth water. He looks at his watch, wondering if he has enough time for a kebab. No.

To tourists the Bazaar is a labyrinth, but Ken navigates its corridors with precision.

He stops before a stall, picks up a dried date from a barrel, and throws it in his mouth. The vendor, wearing the traditional round white skullcap, can sense this transgression. He eyes Ken, beckons him to come close. Instead of harsh words, he gives him a paper bag. Ken slides the man a paper bag of his own.

Ken hastily walks to the men’s room. He enters a stall and puts his hand in the bag. He takes out an Iranian passport, opens it. In a black-and-white photo that looks much older than it is, as if through a distorted mirror, his other self—Kouresh—looks up at Ken. It brings impressions of his childhood in Tehran; the last days of the Shah; his family’s hasty, chaotic departure.

It’s sad to think of himself as an eleven-year-old boy, sitting in class in America, trying to learn English on the fly. But it paid off for his daughter, for the life she has.

Kouresh knows he has a job to do. Get back to the airport. Catch the five o’clock for Tehran. Maybe, he thinks, I can get that kebab to go.

Chapter 2

Robert Monroe can always find beauty, even curbside at the airport. If three white cigarettes sit smoldering in black sand, their smoke forming a question mark in the evening sunlight, he will say to anyone standing near, “Look. Beautiful, right?”

He can’t help himself. He has spent the last fifteen years trying to unlock the aesthetics and the meaning of pre-war art for college freshmen and sophomores. It’s one of the things that his wife, Ali, loves about him—and one of the things that she hates. “C’mon,” she says. “It’s an ashtray.” She pulls down the collar of his tweed jacket and fixes his hair. “We’ve got a plane to catch.”

Robert ignores his appearance, but lucky for him, he is handsome. Without a gray hair on his head, Robert looks thirty-five but he’s really ten years older than that.

Ali gives him a peck on the lips and walks away in her perfectly pressed skirt and jacket. He glances one last time at the still life, then turns and drags an unruly roller bag with a broken wheel in her direction. It’s at moments like this when he is reminded how much he loves her, how much he needs her. “Coming. Sorry.”

“Sir, you’re in the wrong line,” the gate agent says.

“What? Impossible.”

“This isn’t where you check in.”

Robert looks over his shoulder at the long line of coach passengers. “Did you hear that, Ali? We waited in the wrong line.”

“Robert, I told you to ask,” says Ali. She’s handsome with an air of competence, even when frustrated.

“Ask who?”

Ali eyes the gate attendant’s name tag, notes the name, and asks, “Deondra, please don’t make us wait in another line. Can we just check in here?”

Deondra smiles. “There ain’t no line where I’m sending you.” She points a long fingernail in the direction of a red carpet, where a man in a suit stands sentry. He has a radio earpiece. “First class?” he asks.

“Deondra told us to come over here,” says Robert.

“Passports, please.” The man holds out his hand.

Robert fumbles in his pockets. Ali opens her leather folder, takes out two passports, and hands them over.

The man smiles. “The Monroes. We’ve been expecting you.” He lifts their bags with ease and says, “Follow me.”

They walk into the very exclusive First Class Lounge of Royal Swiss Airlines. The man invites them to sit on a soft leather couch. They are immediately served tea and delicate little cookies.

“First class? What is going on here?” Ali asks. “Who exactly do they think you are?” She watches a beautiful attendant walk by with a tray of shrimp cocktail.

Robert pretends to be hurt. “I’m an expert on Modigliani. I’m also an expert on the Fauvists, Cubists, and several other pre-war movements. Thanks for your vote of confidence.”

“I know. You’re brilliant. It’s just that usually when someone puts out this sort of expense they want you to do something…illegal.”


“Well, shady.”

Robert laughs.

“I’m serious,” she says.

“Well, you’re right—the reason these people love art is because it’s a way to move a hundred million dollars around tax free, under the radar. But what they’re asking me to do is legal. I’m just an insurance policy.”

“Insurance for what?”

“You know how many fake Picassos there are out there?”


“Neither do I, but I bet there are a lot. Besides, this will be fun. When’s the last time we took a vacation? Just the two of us?”

“I can’t wait to ski.” Ali brightens. “You think I’ve still got it?”

“I know you do.”

A new attendant arrives. “Abdul will take you through security and to your gate.”

The line for security is endless, but the Monroes don’t wait at all. They follow Abdul to the first-class line. On the other side, a golf cart waits to speed them through the huge airport to the gate.

On board the 747, Robert and Ali are led to their giant seats in the nose of the plane. “And you said a Ph.D. in art history would never pay,” Robert says to Ali, and lifts his glass of champagne to hers.

Ali smiles and sips. The bubbles make her giggle. “This is good champagne. Here’s to higher education.”

“Here’s to higher highs. Nothing but the best for Mademoiselle.”

Chapter 3

Ken looks out the window at the serene lake and rugged mountains as his plane circles high above Geneva. Geneva is spotless. People always say it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

His shoes are off, his toes always touching the parcel, just in case he dozes off. The Iranian religious police are still fresh in his mind. But he has a job to do. Three countries, two identities—he’s almost done now.

The banker greets Ken and invites him into his office. Ken puts the parcel on the desk. The banker turns it once, then twice. “May I?” he asks.

“Yes, please.”

The banker takes an ivory-handled letter opener from its sheath and slices the brown paper and string. Inside are stacks of euro notes. The banker puts the bills in a counting machine. For some reason, the sight of the money makes Ken nervous. For just a second he looks away, but then, taking his job seriously, he watches the bills flutter, not wanting a single one to fly away.

The banker asks no questions. He doesn’t care where Ken flew in from this morning or where he will fly to later today. He just grins and counts the money.

The Swiss, Ken decides, have an uncanny ability to look right at something and not see it. They are pragmatic, but not troubled by ideology.

The banker leaves the room. Ken thrums his fingers on the desk, watches the clock on the wall. A Casio? Where’s the Rolex?

The banker returns, sits in his chair, and slides a safe deposit key across the table.

Ken picks it up and notices the round number tag.


The banker stands, bows, and points toward the door.

A woman takes Ken into the vault. The walls gleam silver, substantial. They each put their key in the slot. The long rectangular box slides out.

Ken is brought to a private room. He bolts the door, opens the box, and finds only a USB thumb drive. It has a note attached—DO NOT TEST.

That’s it? Ken wonders. The end of the world? It’s so small. He puts the thumb drive in his pocket, tosses the key on the desk, and exits the small room.

Chapter 4

Ken arrives at the airport and waits in the line for security. When he is at the scanner, he puts the USB drive in his carry-on. He thinks of how the color of his skin, the curl of his hair, bring eyes in his direction. It’s always made him deferential and slightly bitter. He holds his hands above his head in the glass tube and watches his bag enter the X-ray machine.

A man places a hand in front of his chest, then lowers it. “You may go.” Ken grabs his bag, slips his hand inside, and palms the USB drive into his pocket.

The woman at the gate wears a small red hat. When she sees that Ken is in business class, she smiles and welcomes him. He walks the boarding bridge into the plane and takes his seat.

A family enters, two women and six small children. He guesses Saudi. I wonder what they did wrong to end up in business class? he thinks, amused. Then a Saudi man. Is that the father?

Ken motions to the tall, blond flight attendant. “Excuse me, is first class full?”

“No, sir. But I’m afraid it’s too late to upgrade.”

“I’m fine. Thank you.”

The next couple to board makes his pulse quicken. A tall, fit man, who appears Korean, with a beautiful woman sits in front of him. What the fuck are they doing here?

The flight attendant leans over them and asks them, first in German, then in French, then in English, if they would like something to drink. The couple looks at each other. Then they look back at Ken.

The attendant makes a drinking motion with her hand.

“No,” one of them says.

Ken slips on his shoes, stands, and announces to everyone in the cabin, “I shouldn’t have had so much coffee.” He moves toward the restroom. When he gets near the door of the plane, he exits discreetly. In the bridge, he is swimming upstream against the horde of coach passengers. He looks over his shoulder and sees the Koreans about forty meters back. None of the three moves fast enough to elicit a panic.

At the entrance back into the airport, Ken spots two Saudis in black turtleneck sweaters.

Chapter 5

Ali and Robert walk groggily off their plane into the bright white Geneva Airport and part at the restrooms.

Robert rinses his face with hot water and applies shaving cream. He holds up a cellophane bag containing one blue, plastic Bic razor. This is what separates us from the cavemen, he thinks as he drags the razor across his cheek. The superego. Our parents’ undying words about hygiene now stuck in our subconscious, the never-ending unthinking desire to…

“Hey, buddy, you in town for the convention?”

A man stands there smiling at him. He’d guess Middle Eastern, but the accent is American.

“I’m going to Gstaad to give a lecture on art.”

“Nice,” says Ken. “I love art. What kind?”

Robert turns back to the mirror to finish his work. “Pre–World War II,” he says, bringing the razor under his chin.

Ken walks up beside him, reaches his hand up to the space by Robert’s ear, and says, “Hey, buddy, you missed a spot.” He lowers his hand and says, “I’ll look for you in Gstaad,” before briskly exiting the bathroom.

Nice guy, Robert thinks.

Ken walks quickly through the terminal. He knows the Koreans are behind him, the Saudis, too. Ken hears his name over the loudspeaker. He takes out his phone and dials. “I had to dump it. It’s going to Gstaad…art professor. Send a black car to Arrivals—now!”

Chapter 6

Ali and Robert sit in the backseat of a luxurious Mercedes Geländewagen. It speeds north on the autobahn. “I feel like Cinderella,” Ali says, as they watch the sun drop behind the Swiss Alps. The ridge is backlit, forming a jagged line against a breathless blue sky. “Is this chariot going to turn into a pumpkin?”

“Not for five days,” says Robert.

“Five days,” Ali says wistfully. “Thanks for taking this job. I know it’s not your kind of thing—catering to billionaires.”

“Are you kidding? To see you this happy, I’ll cater to anybody.”

Ali spreads her fingers on the soft white leather and smiles devilishly. “We’ve got a driver. And he’s named Klaus.”

“And Klaus has a feather in his cap, literally. Look.”

The feather on Klaus’s green Bavarian cap gently touches the suede headliner. “We should get you one of those hats,” says Ali.

“Absolutely. Step on it, Klaus.”

Schnell, Klaus!” Ali says.

“To the hat store.”

“Ja, ja,” the older man with big ears says to the backseat. He launches the luxury four-by-four into the mountain pass.

They reach the crest and descend into the valley in the silvery dusk of twilight. Ali holds her palms against the glass and says, “It’s a fairy tale.”

With dusk falling, everything glistens in fresh snow and lamplight: A-frame houses, their rooftops heaped high with snow, pine trees laden with the fresh downfall.

The Geländewagen pulls up in front of the Gstaad Palace and both back doors open simultaneously. Robert steps out and moves to the trunk, but the valets already have the bags. He stares up at the castle-like hotel and says, “This place has turrets.”

“Ooh, I want to stay in a turret,” Ali says.

“I’m willing to bet the broom closet is pretty nice in a place like this.”

At the front desk they’re all smiles, until the rate sheet is slid over for Robert to sign.

“Whoa,” he says when he sees the price—€3,000 per night. “Actually, I’m here for Christie’s. I’m one of their speakers at the conference? They’re picking up the tab.”

“Yes, sir, of course, sir. Christie’s actually had you in a less expensive room. You were upgraded by Mr. Al-Fayed. Still, you must sign.”

“Who’s Mr. Al-Fayed?” Robert asks.

“He’s quite well known here. Among other things, he’s the largest private shareholder in BioSwiss.”

“Pharmaceuticals…whoa, did you hear that, Ali? Some guy named Al-Fayed upgraded our room.” Robert looks from Ali back to the receptionist. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.”

“I assure you,” the receptionist says, “you will be very comfortable.”

“I’m sorry, but what does a pharma guy want with me?”

“He left you this note.” The receptionist slides a thick envelope across the counter.

“Wow, that looks like a wedding invitation,” Ali says. “Nice paper.”

Robert opens the envelope.


On Sale
Dec 5, 2017
Page Count
144 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Learn more at jamespatterson.com

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