Cradle and All


By James Patterson

Formats and Prices




$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 12, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Two teenage girls claim that they are pregnant virgins. But only one is carrying the child of Christ . . . and the other will deliver the son of Satan.


In Boston, seventeen-year-old Kathleen is pregnant, but she swears she’s a virgin. In Ireland, another teenage girl, Colleen, discovers she is in the same impossible condition. Cities all around the world are suddenly overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, and worse.

As terrifying forces of light and darkness begin to gather, Kathleen and Colleen find themselves at the center of the final battle for the very soul of humanity. Each of the girls must convince a young detective that she is the true mother of God . . . and that the other is carrying the devil.

The stakes couldn’t be higher in this page-turning thriller. You won’t be able to put it down until the final reveal: which baby is the miracle . . . and which the monster?


Begin Reading

Table of Contents

A Preview of Stalking Jack the Ripper


Copyright Page

Hachette Book Group supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works that enrich our culture.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author's intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact Thank you for your support of the author's rights.


Sundown had bloodied the horizon over the uneven rooftops of South Boston. Birds were perched on every roof, and they seemed to be watching the girl walking slowly below.

Kathleen Beavier made her way down a shadowy side street that was as alien to her as the surface of the moon. She hunched her shoulders and pulled up the collar on her vintage peacoat. Her black Frye boots had rubbed raw circles into her heels, but she welcomed the pain. It was a distraction from the unthinkable thing she had come to do.

This is so unreal, so impossible, she thought. So completely insane.

The seventeen-year-old girl paused to catch her breath at the intersection of Dorchester and Broadway. South Boston wasn't really rough anymore, not the way it used to be, but she still didn't look as if she belonged here. She was too preppy, despite the tough boots. Just a bit too pretty and golden and polished.

That was her plan, though. She'd never bump into anyone she knew in Southie.

With badly shaking hands, Kathleen pushed the tortoiseshell sunglasses she didn't need anymore back into her blond hair. She'd washed it earlier with Bumble and bumble shampoo and rinsed it with conditioner. But why, really? How ridiculous to have worried about how her damn hair would look.

She squeezed her eyes shut and uttered a long, hopeless moan of confusion and despair.

When Kathleen finally forced open her eyes, she blinked into the slashing red rays of the setting sun. Then she checked the time on her iPhone for the millionth time in the past hour.

God, no. It's already past five!

She was late for her doctor's appointment.

She started to run. She hurried past the imposing brick face of St. Augustine's parish church, past a neon-lit dive bar and a dusty florist's shop. A man on a motorcycle called out, "Blondie, what's the rush? Can I get a smile?"

She whipped herself forward, as she often did to protect herself against the New England winter. Tears ran down her cheeks, warm trails that soon turned cold.

Hurry, hurry. You have to do this terrible thing. You've come this far.

It was already twenty after the hour when she finally found what she was looking for. The gray brick building was wedged in between a twenty-four-hour laundromat and a diner with steamed-up windows.

This is the place. This… hellhole.

The walls were smeared with lipstick-red and black graffiti: Abortion = Murder. Abortion Is the Unforgivable Sin. There was a glass door and beside it a tarnished brass plaque: WOMEN'S MEDICAL CENTER, it read.

Sorrow washed over her and she felt faint. She didn't want to go through with it. She wasn't sure she could.

But she made herself walk through the front door. Inside, the reception room was calming, almost reassuring. Pastel-colored plastic chairs ringed the perimeter, and posters of sweet-faced mothers and chubby babies hung on the walls. Best of all, no one was here.

Kathleen took a clipboard left out on a countertop. A sign instructed her to fill out the form as best she could.

She sat in a powder-blue chair and began writing down her medical history in block letters. Her hands were shaking harder now. Her foot wouldn't stop tapping.

What is the reason for today's visit? the form asked.

Kathleen probed her memory for something—anything—that would help her make sense of her situation. She came up with nothing.

This can't be happening to me, she thought. I shouldn't be in the Women's Medical Center.

She'd made out with guys, but damn it, damn it, damn it, she knew the difference between kissing and… fucking.

She'd never gone all the way with anyone. She hadn't wanted to.

Not that she'd signed a purity pledge or anything like that. She just… hadn't found someone she liked enough. Trusted enough. Did that make her a prude? No, it made her discerning.

She'd never even let a guy touch her down there.

The tests must have been wrong, because it wasn't physically possible for them to be right. Like her dad always said, Kathleen Beavier was a good kid, the best. She was popular. She was everybody's friend.

She was a virgin.

But she was pregnant.


A sudden wave of nausea came over Kathleen and nearly knocked her to the floor. She felt dizzy and thought she might throw up in the waiting room.

"Get yourself together," she said softly. You're not the first one to go through this kind of thing. You won't be the last, either.

She glanced at the clock over the vacant reception desk. It was nearly six. Where was the receptionist? More important, where was the doctor?

Kathleen wanted to turn around and run out of the women's clinic, but she fought off the powerful instinct. But where was everybody?

"You can do this," she said between clenched teeth. "No time like the present."

Kathleen stood and walked to a pinewood door behind the reception desk. She took a deep breath, possibly the deepest of her life. She turned the metal handle, and the door opened.

She heard a soft, mellow voice coming from down the hall. Thank God, someone's here after all.

She followed the sound.

"Hello," Kathleen called out tentatively. "Hello? Anybody? I'm Kathleen Beavier. I have an appointment."

The door at the far end of the hall was partially open, and Kathleen heard the pleasing voice inside. She slowly pushed the door open all the way.


Something was wrong—she sensed it instantly. Kathleen felt she should leave, right now, but it had taken so much courage to come here in the first place.

The air seemed thick, almost viscous. There was a smell of alcohol. But something else, too—something metallic and heavy. Kathleen put her hand to her mouth.

It took her a few seconds to take in the full horror of what she saw.

A young, dark-haired woman was hanging from a hook high up on the wall. She wore a white medical coat. Her name tag read DR. HIGGINS. A cord was slipknotted tightly around her neck.

Her once pretty face was a brutal dark red, and her eyes were frozen open in fear. Her brown hair cascaded over her shoulders.

Trembling, Kathleen reached out and touched the woman's hand. It was still warm.

Dr. Higgins. Her doctor.

In a panic, Kathleen jerked her arm away. She wanted to run, but some force held her there. Something so powerful. So awful.

She saw a stethoscope coiled beside a pad of paper. On the pad was written Kathleen's name. Her stomach twisted. Fear and guilt and shame overpowered her in one sickening, wrenching ache.

The idea that came to her next was so strange, so overwhelming, it was almost as if it weren't her own.

Enough, she thought. I have had enough.

A tray of instruments glittered near the pad of paper. Kathleen took up a sharp blade. It was ice-cold and menacing in her hand.

She heard a voice—but no one was there. The Voice was deep, commanding. You know what you have to do, Kathleen. We've talked about it. Go ahead, now. It's the right thing.

She didn't question it. In the space between the pink sleeve of her Kate Spade oxford shirt and the crease of her left wrist, she sliced. The skin parted.

See how easy it is, Kathleen? It's nothing, really. Just the natural order of things.

Blood welled up and fell in large drops onto the floor. Tears flowed from her eyes, mixing with the blood.

One more cut. Just to be sure.

The second cut was harder for her to do. Her pretty gold cuff bracelet covered the best place on her vein, and her left hand was already weak.

She sliced into the vein again.

She sank to her knees, as if in prayer.

Kathleen managed a third slash before everything jumped to black.

She fell unconscious beneath the feet of the hanging doctor, whose mouth now seemed curved in a knowing smile.

Given everything that happened, it isn't too much of a stretch to say that this is one of the most incredible stories ever, and the strangest I've ever encountered. The weirdest thing of all is that I'm part of it. A big part.

I remember how it began as if it were just moments ago.

I was sitting in my small, cluttered, but comfortable office in the Back Bay section of Boston, staring out the window toward the Hancock and Prudential towers. My day was almost over, and I was bracing myself for the hectic rush-hour commute home. Then the door opened without so much as a tap, and an elderly man stepped inside. With his gray pinstriped suit, crisp white shirt, and dark-blue silk tie, he looked like a Beacon Hill lawyer on his way to the Harvard Club.

He wasn't, though: he was John Cardinal Rooney of the Archdiocese of Boston. Besides being one of the most important religious leaders in the world, he was also a friend of mine.

"Hello, Anne, it's good to see you," he said gently. "Even under the circumstances."

"Nice to be seen, Eminence," I said, and I smiled as I rose from my seat. "But what circumstances? Are they the reason for…?" I gestured to his outfit. I'd never seen him in anything but a priest's robes.

Rooney nodded. "I'm traveling incognito. Because of the circumstances."

"I see. Well, the power suit looks excellent on you. Come in. Please, sit. It's nearly six. Can I offer you something to drink, Eminence?"

"'John' will do for tonight, my dear. Scotch if you have it. An old man's drink for an old man. And getting older in a hurry."

Aren't we all? I almost joked. But then I stopped myself, because the cardinal, at seventy, was three times my age.

I fixed him a scotch on the rocks, then got a beer out of the minifridge for myself.

I handed him his glass, smiling. "Here's to—the circumstances of your visit," I said, raising my beer.

"The perfect toast," Rooney said. He took a sip of his drink.

I had a rather complicated history with the Archdiocese of Boston, but most recently, I'd worked with certain members as a private investigator. One case involved a teacher in Andover who'd been raped by a priest who taught at the same high school. Another concerned a fifteen-year-old boy who'd shot another boy in their church. None of the cases were happy experiences for either the cardinal or me.

"Do you believe in God, Anne?" Rooney asked as he sat back in one of my soft, slightly tattered armchairs.

It was an odd question to ask me now, I thought. "Yes, I do," I said slowly. "In my own way."

"Do you believe in God the Father, Jesus, and the Blessed Mother?" the cardinal went on. He was making this strange meeting even stranger.

I blinked a few times. "Yes. In my way."

Cardinal Rooney nodded gravely. "As a private investigator," he said, "are you licensed to carry a gun?"

And now things get even stranger still, I thought.

I opened my desk drawer and showed him my Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380. I didn't tell him that in my three years as a PI, I had never fired it.

"You're hired," he said, and knocked back the rest of his drink. "Can you leave for Los Angeles tonight? There's something there I think you should see."

I'll never forget Los Angeles—what I found there, what I felt there.

I'd seen graphic pictures of the epidemic on every TV network. I had watched in horror as the children of Los Angeles descended upon Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by the carload, all with aching joints and high fevers, symptoms that could kill within days.

When I arrived at Cedars, the scene was even more intense than I could have imagined. It was terrible to be there in the midst of the suffering. I wanted to turn away from it all, and maybe I should have. If I'd run into the Hollywood Hills and never come out, my life would look a lot different now.

The fabled hospital had been plunged into a confused mess. The halls rung with the sound of chaos and fear: the shouts of the emergency room nurses and doctors, the wailing of their young patients, and the sobs of the desperate parents.

We'd been warned so many times about the possibility of a global pandemic. But so far this unexplained disease was affecting only the children of Los Angeles and a few other major cities. It was focused and ominous. Was it a portent of the future?

A curly-haired boy of four or so, wearing yellow PJs, was waiting to be intubated. I winked at him, and he managed to wink back. On another table, a teenage girl was curled in a fetal position around her stuffed sandy-colored bear. She was crying deep, heartrending sobs as doctors tried to straighten her contorted limbs. Other children were stationed along the perimeter of the waiting room. Policemen, their radios squawking loudly, manned the doorways as best they could. They restrained frenzied parents from their screaming babies. The long linoleum hallways were packed wall to wall with feverish children tossing and turning on blankets laid across the bare floor.

Each room off the main ER corridor had been turned into a dormitory of tragically sick kids. Their families seemed eerily related by the flimsy blue paper gowns and masks they all wore.

Each new image was indelibly stamped onto my mind, and then onto my soul.

The doctor walking beside me was Lewis Lavine, the hospital's director of pediatrics. He was tall and gawky, with a Conanesque pompadour. He was a rock in a sea of chaos, giving me a tour of his wards when clearly he had no time for it.

Sometimes I had to stop and make myself take deep, calming breaths. "It's even worse here than in Boston," I told him.

The same mysterious plague had just broken out before I left. I'd seen the devastation at St. Catherine's, a large hospital run by the Church. And now the archdiocese had sent me to L.A. to investigate the connection.

"It's the same disease, right?" I asked Lavine as we walked hurriedly down the hall.

"Yes, of course," he said. He paused, as if reluctant to go further, to actually give a name to the horror. Then he spoke gravely. "It's basically poliomyelitis. Polio. Only this time the virus is faster and deadlier, and it seems to have appeared out of nowhere."

Polio had once been a widespread killer, attacking more than six hundred fifty thousand people, mostly children. Fatal to about 20 percent of the infected, it receded from the rest like a lethal tide, leaving behind deformed limbs and crippled spines, bodies that would never heal. Dr. Salk's and the Sabin vaccines had eradicated polio, ostensibly for good. There had been only a handful of cases in this country since 1957. But this present, mysterious epidemic had a much higher fatality rate than the polio of old.

It was the second coming of a dreaded disease.

"All of these children were vaccinated?" I asked.

Lavine sighed. "Most of them. It doesn't seem to matter. We're looking at the Son of Polio," he said. "The old menace with a new, more potent kick. It rushed past the standard vaccine without blinking. Some of the World Health people think a broken sewer line contaminated a water source, and that's how it spread. But in Los Angeles we don't know how the hell it originated. Here. Or in Boston. Or wherever it breaks out next. And we certainly don't know how to stop it."

As if to emphasize his point, he looked around at the sick children—the dying children. I shuddered to think how many of them wouldn't be going home.

"They can't stop it in Boston, either," I replied. "They don't know how this could have happened. But it did. What the hell is going on?"

Rome, one week earlier.

Father Nicholas Rosetti had never been so focused—and yet so devoid of original and illuminating thought—in his life. He knew all about the terrible "mysteries": the tragedies in Los Angeles, in Boston, and elsewhere. He knew much more, too—so much more that his mind was threatening to implode. He thought he knew why the plagues were happening, why the chaos was spreading. He knew the unthinkable.

Nicholas Rosetti's workman's build spoke of years of hard labor and outdoor life. He dressed simply but well. His smile was disarming and self-assured, even in moments of crisis and panic. He was darkly handsome, which was inconvenient for a priest.

He'd been born to poor, simple parents, but Nicholas was brilliant and ambitious. He understood how powerful the Church was and, more important, how powerful it could be. He knew, he just knew, that one day he would be a cardinal.

But an odd and unexpected thing happened to him when he was ordained a priest: Nicholas Rosetti started to believe. Suddenly given the divine gift of faith, he promised God that he would dedicate his life to serving the Church and its people. That was how he came to the attention of the Holy See, and then Pope Pius himself. Father Rosetti was as smart as any priest in Rome, but he wasn't power-hungry. He was a loyal, genuinely good man, and he actually believed.

As he walked he found himself gazing up at the huge, ornate domes of St. Peter's Basilica. He was looking for answers but finding none. His already brisk pace accelerated.

As he struck out across the familiar, teeming St. Peter's Square—that majestic piazza ringed by stone Bernini colonnades—he could still hear the recent words of His Holiness Pope Pius XIII. They rang in his ears, louder than the din of the Roman streets.

Faithful Nicholas, Pope Pius had said, I want you to investigate a miracle for me. Actually, two miracles. You can tell no one. You will be alone.

Nicholas Rosetti strode past the four magnificent candelabra built at the base of the Egyptian obelisk that had once towered in the center ring of the Circus of Nero. He still couldn't believe that the pope—the world's most powerful spiritual leader—had chosen him.

Eighty-one years ago, a message was given to three children at Fátima, Portugal, by Mary, Our Blessed Lady. As you know, the secret of Fátima has never been revealed. Circumstances dictate that I must now tell you of the extraordinary message. I must tell you this secret, but you can tell no one.… It's vitally important, Nicholas. It has to do with the polio outbreak in America, the famines in Asia and Africa, so much more.… Everything is connected. You'll see for yourself soon enough.

Rosetti had already come to the Porta Sant'Anna. He was about to leave Città del Vaticano, the 109-acre papal state of Vatican City. And will I also be leaving its protection? he wondered. Am I truly alone now?

As he turned down the ancient, crumbling Via di Porta Angelica, the priest felt a curious surge of dizziness. Disoriented, he paused, gripped by a kind of swooping vertigo.

He felt that he was being… watched.

Shooting pains engulfed his chest, like knives piercing into his heart. His vision dimmed. He saw only a narrow pinprick of light.

"Oh, God," he gasped. "What's happening to me? What's happening?"

Suddenly he heard a voice—deep and powerful. There is no God, you fool. There never has been. Never! There is no way a human fool could ever know God.

He tried to steady himself, grabbing on to a lamppost as a tide of nausea swept over him.

"That man is sick," someone shouted in Italian. "Look at him! Someone help!"

Nicholas Rosetti gasped as his throat constricted. Excruciating pain lanced down his left arm and entered his leg. It felt like he was being skewered alive.

He again heard the Voice, deep inside his head. You are going to die. Know that your life meant nothing.

Could he be having a heart attack? He was thirty-six and healthy as a horse. He'd jogged five miles along the Tiber that morning.

He fell to the cold stone pavement. The sky seemed to be receding above him, as if being pulled away into space. Colors swam before his eyes. Faces looked down at him, blurred in his sight. They were grotesque, changing form and shape.

He recalled the incredible revelation he'd received just moments before, deep inside the gold-domed Apostolic Palace.

I must tell you the secret, Pius had said. Listen closely, Father Rosetti. Our Lady of Fátima promised the world a divine child. It's happening now. You must find the virgin mother, Nicholas. Only she can stop the chaos, the plagues around the world. You must find her.

Nicholas Rosetti lay gasping in the street. "Please, help me," he heaved. "I can't die now. I know the secret."

"We all know it," whispered someone in the crowd gathered over him.

"We all know the secret," they said in chorus. They smiled down at him. "We all know!"

And he saw now that they were devils—every one of them. The streets were filled with monstrous, snarling devils.

He heard the Voice again.

You're going to an early grave with your precious secret, Nicholas. You're going straight to the Kingdom of Hell.

Newport, Rhode Island.

Kathleen Beavier nervously scratched at the ragged red scar on her wrist. The seventeen-year-old tried not to think about the night she'd cut herself in Boston. Months had passed, but of course she couldn't forget.

She glanced at the Boston Globe on the breakfast table beside her. The headline screamed about a mysterious outbreak of polio in Boston. Was the whole world going crazy lately? It seemed like it.

Or maybe it was just her.

She shivered suddenly. She had the sense that there was something wrong with the air in the house. It was suffocating and nasty. It seemed almost evil to her.

Almost alive.

Stop it. Just stop it, Kathleen commanded herself.

But she had thoughts like this all the time now. She heard voices. Had crazy ideas. Ever since South Boston, she'd wondered if she might be a little insane. But who wouldn't go kind of nuts under the circumstances?

She turned the newspaper over. No need for bad news right now.

A figure moved across her vision.

"I don't want any breakfast," she said to the housekeeper, Mrs. Walsh.

"Don't talk to me like that, Kathleen," Mrs. W. scolded mildly. The white-haired woman set down a tempting little tray of goodies: fresh fruit, cereal, bread warm from the oven. The breakfast table on the veranda looked out over the rocky shoreline behind the Beavier house in Newport, Rhode Island.

Kathleen reluctantly smiled. Despite her wish to be stubborn and starve herself, to just say no, she stuck her spoon into the muesli.

"Blech," she said.

"You're very, very welcome," said Mrs. Walsh. She'd been the Beaviers' housekeeper since before Kathleen was born, and she had little patience for teen angst.

Kathleen played with the cereal and the mandarin orange sections and the seven-grain toast on her tray. She sipped her coffee and wished, for the millionth time, that it didn't have to be decaf. Then, slowly, heavily, she extricated herself from chair and table. "Thanks, Mrs. W.," she said out of habit.

"Be careful, Kathleen," Mrs. Walsh called after her.

It made her smile. Careful? Really? Wasn't it a little late for that?

Supporting her protruding stomach with her left hand, Kathleen negotiated the steep flight of bleached wooden stairs down to the sand. Her one guiltless pleasure lately was the beach, and it lay directly ahead.

She could cry on the beach. She could scream all she wanted to, and her voice would be drowned out by the crashing waves. She could act crazy if she wanted to. And she very much wanted to. She was eight months pregnant, and that was just one of the things that made no sense to her. The doctor who was supposed to perform the abortion had either committed suicide or been murdered—the police still didn't know.

Kathleen might have died that night if another patient hadn't arrived and found her bleeding on the floor.

She sighed as she reached the beach. Her swollen feet felt like they were bursting out of her Prada lace-ups. She would have untied them, but she couldn't see them, let alone reach that far down.

How had this happened to her? How? Why?

Wading through the ocean's low tide, soaking her shoes and socks, she made the gesture pregnant women everywhere make: She rubbed a soothing circle on the warm, tight skin of her stomach.

She wanted to hate it, but no matter how angry she was, this baby was hers. She couldn't be mad at it. Her baby hadn't done anything wrong.

She stood with her face to the early-morning wind, somewhat mild for early October, and watched a dozen sandpipers scrambling in and out of the frothy surf on tiny matchstick legs.

The gray-and-white birds watched her right back. A swooping gull, too, seemed to stare.

Was it her imagination? Or was this legitimately another one of the weird things she'd experienced since her old life had been taken over by this new one?


  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller!

On Sale
Sep 12, 2016
Page Count
336 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

Learn more about this author