By John Connolly
With Tim Malloy
Formats and Prices
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 10, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Table of Contents
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 email@example.com. Thank you for your support of the author's rights.
A complete list of books by James Patterson is at the back of this book. For previews of upcoming books and information about the author, visit JamesPatterson.com, or find him on Facebook.
Mary: February 2005
It's a typically slow South Florida Sunday, and Mary's staring into the mirror, trying to wipe the morning cobwebs away from her dark, sleepy eyes.
She's a pretty girl, tiny—just five feet three inches tall—but tanned and athletic, with curly black henna-streaked hair.* Her bedroom's a playland of pinks and pastels, stuffed animals, and boy-band posters. But Mary's a teenager now. Fourteen years old. She even has a boyfriend. He's cute and popular. Joe† is the heartthrob of her school, and Mary's feelings for him are new to her, powerful, hard to untangle. She's thinking of Joe as she presses the Play button on her iPod.
The MP3 player's on shuffle. There's no telling what song will come up, and Mary's head drops dramatically in anticipation. Then a loud, sexy throb spills out of the earbuds: Britney Spears. The bass line takes over, and she starts to dance, moving her hips as she lip-synchs the lyrics:
With a taste of a poison paradise…
Mary's swept away by the song. She's twirling around and around, flinging her arms out to grab the clothes hanging up in her closet—it's like embracing ten thousand fans! Then she stops and pulls out the earbuds. Suddenly she's become fourteen again. Just a girl, jittery, nervous.
What she's thinking about now is what she will wear to the big fancy house.
Mary desperately wants to make an impression. This will be her first trip to the house. She does not want to look like a child on this outing.
She picks out a pair of skinny white jeans, puts on a freshly washed halter top that leaves her flat stomach bare. The cross that Joe gave her last Christmas hangs from her neck.
Think of the money, she thinks.
For Mary, it's incredible money. Several weeks' wages at Mickey D's. And just for giving some old man a massage? She twists the earbuds back in, dives into the closet, sings along with Britney Spears:
Don't you know that you're toxic?
The tight white jeans fit Mary perfectly. She turns to check herself out in the mirror, cropping the scene with her fingers to block out the Barbies behind her. Over on the Gold Coast, girls in big, high-ceilinged bedrooms have American Girl dolls. Dolls with natural smiles, perfectly vacant moon faces. American Girl dolls are beautiful. They're expensive. But you have to have one if Mom and Dad are willing to pay. Over on the Coast, most mothers and fathers are. But out in the sticks, where Mary lives, you get Barbies—passed down from mother to daughter, from sister to sister. They're rail-thin, missile-breasted. There's a touch of knowingness to the curl of their otherwise innocent mouths. American Girl dolls are girlie, but Barbie's like Britney Spears. Barbie's dangling her long legs over the line that separates girls from women.
Be like Barbie, Mary thinks.
She can't be nervous. Not now. Not today.
What she tells herself, over and over again, is: It's not that big a deal.
But, of course, it is a big deal. Before long, Mary's visit to the big fancy house will become part of a months-long Palm Beach police investigation—an affidavit for probable cause, filed by the Palm Beach PD—and, finally, the arrest and conviction of the home's owner, Jeffrey Epstein.
Jeffrey Epstein: February 2005
Jeffrey's morning routine is precise and unvarying. First he spends twenty-five minutes in silence, visualizing the day ahead as he digests the guava, banana, and Müeslix that his chef prepares for him—the same way every day—at six in the morning. Then Jeffrey walks a third of a mile up to South County Road, pausing once in a while to take deep, restorative breaths.
It's a slight slope that leads toward the ocean. Jeffrey's home on the Intracoastal Waterway is behind him now. The morning's not windy. The Atlantic is calm and glittery, and fishing trawlers bob gently on distant waves.
Jeffrey's partial to monogrammed sweatpants, monogrammed fleece pullovers, and hoodies. Casual attire offset by embroidered Stubbs & Wootton slippers—the kind that sell for hundreds of dollars a pair. His hair, which is thick, has turned silver. But Jeffrey Epstein does not have a paunch. For a fifty-two-year-old man, he's extremely fit. Six feet tall, 180 pounds, brown eyes, a strong jawline.
He's never been a drinker. He doesn't smoke or take drugs, and he takes care good care of his body as well as his mind.
It's a magnificent mind. His gift is for numbers: complex calculations, abstract formulas. Even as a child, Jeffrey could untangle math problems that would stump most smart adults. Numbers just fall into place for him, forming in ranks he can bend, twist, manipulate—and multiply. He could have been a scientist or a mathematician. As a young man, he taught calculus and physics. Then he became an investor—a very rich man. Then he became a philanthropist, like Bill Gates. His love for science has inspired him to give millions to academics and institutions committed to studying mysteries of the brain and the arcana of physics. He's given millions to Harvard. And he's given money to politicians: Governor Eliot Spitzer, of New York, and Governor Bill Richardson, of New Mexico, where Epstein owns the largest home in the state.
Epstein's flown Bill Clinton to Africa on a private jet—not the Gulfstream he owns but his Boeing 727, customized with its own trading floor—so that the former president could promote his various and worthy causes.
Just for fun, Chris Tucker, the comedian, and Clinton's pal Kevin Spacey had tagged along for the ride.
"Jeffrey is both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science," Clinton would say through a spokesperson. "I especially appreciated his insights and generosity during the recent trip to Africa to work on democratization, empowering the poor, citizen service, and combating HIV/AIDS."
But is Jeffrey thinking about that trip now?
His first guest is due that morning at nine, and that leaves him enough time for a shower, a lunch, and a few phone calls before the second girl arrives.
Sarah has scheduled that girl for one.
For Jeffrey, it's just part of the daily routine.
But on this day, there's a delicious twist.
One of the girls is a first-timer.
Mary: February 2005
Downstairs, the doorbell is ringing. Mary's father shouts, gruffly:
"Ella está aquí. Su amiga con el camión."
"She's here. Your friend with the truck."
Mary runs down the stairs. It's game day, and Dad's already got the TV on. Her stepmom's out running errands. Mary's twin sister has gone out, too, Rollerblading with a few of her friends.
"Going shopping," she yells, and she pops a piece of Dubble Bubble into her mouth.
Mary's already halfway out the door. Her father calls out again, but on Sundays there's no getting him out of his chair. Besides, Mary knows he'll be happy when he sees the money she's made. Real money, like Joe's cousin Wendy Dobbs, is making.* And it's not like she's running off to do something crazy. After all, Wendy's assured her already that there's nothing to worry about.
Mary's father is Cuban—an immigrant—a self-made man who runs a contracting business. He's wise to the ways of the world and highly protective of his two daughters. They're good girls, he knows. Almost angels. As far as he knows, they don't drink. They've never tried drugs. They love clothes and, especially, music—Britney Spears, Nelly Furtado, Maroon 5, the boy band with that dreamy lead singer. Mary loves California, which she's never seen but daydreams about. She just knows she'll live there someday—a plan that's okay with her father as long as Mary keeps up with her homework and chores.
What he worries about, in the meantime, is the crowd that Mary runs with.
Joe is a fine boy. More responsible than most American boys his age. But Joe's cousin, Wendy, is another story. Mary's father doesn't like Wendy at all and would have liked her even less had he known about Wendy's intentions.
In just one hour, Wendy's told Mary, she can make more money than her father makes in a day: "This guy in Palm Beach. He's rich. Very rich. He has an airplane. He owns an island, you know?"
Like a lot of kids who live inland, away from the Florida coast, Mary's dreams reach way beyond the dull, scrubby flatlands and strip malls she's grown up around. There's so much that she wants to do and see. But for her the Gold Coast, twenty miles away, might as well be another country.
"Yes," she had said, without even thinking about it.
Then there was Joe to contend with.
"Who is this guy?" Joe had said, shaking his head. "You don't know a thing about him."
"Hundreds of dollars," Mary had whispered. She couldn't quite look at Joe, but she was firm: "I can make that in one hour."
Joe seemed to think they were actually talking about it. A conversation—some back-and-forth. But the thought of not going hadn't even crossed Mary's mind. If anything, she hoped that it would become a regular thing.
"To rub his feet? Are you kidding? If you're not worried about it, why haven't you told your dad?"
"It's your cousin, Joe! Some girls go three times a week."
"The guy's feet must be killing him."
"Tell your father."
"You know how Dad is. You don't tell your parents everything."
"I'm not going to some freak's mansion to rub his feet."
"That's right. I am."
"And if I told your father? Or mine?"
"You'd never see me again."
Mary felt bad as she said it. She felt bad for lying.
She knew that it would be more than a foot rub.
Wendy had told her that much, at least.
Jeffrey Epstein: February 2005
John Kluge, the media magnate, has bought up several lots around here, torn down the mansions, and built a grand, sprawling estate. But Epstein's neighbors have blocked his own efforts to buy more land and increase his holdings.
Epstein's address in Palm Beach is 358 El Brillo Way. Built in the fifties by a totally run-of-the-mill architect, the house has none of the elegance of his neighbors' homes. It's big, with a big swimming pool—that's the most you can say for it. It's totally bland. But it's the last house on a dead-end block, the last block of the street, and this makes it very secluded.
Tonight, one of Epstein's black Escalades will whisk him away, taking him to the private terminal at Palm Beach International Airport. Then a short flight down to Little Saint James—or, as he likes to call it, Little Saint Jeff's—the seventy-eight-acre island he owns in the Virgin Islands. But for the moment, there are still things to attend to in Florida. Business and pleasure—although, in Epstein's experience, the two have always fit together nicely.
He strolls through the gate, past the guard, up to the side door that leads to the kitchen. Inside, he ignores the maid doing dishes and climbs a wide, winding staircase to the second floor. He walks down a hallway, one that's lined with photographs of naked women. Then, in his bedroom, he opens a closet. Inside, there are many more photographs. Erotic photos, tacked to the wall, of girls who have come to the house.
Familiar faces, familiar bodies. That's what makes the first-timers so special.
Epstein checks his watch before closing the door.
The Virgin Islands can wait.
Mary: February 2005
The Dubble Bubble's lost all its flavor, but Mary's still chewing the gum as she shifts, nervously, in the backseat of Wendy's big pickup truck. The girl sitting up front next to Wendy is a stranger to Mary. She's chain-smoking menthols. The music is blaring; the seat is filthy and gross. Worried that her white jeans will get grody, Mary sits on her hands. Then, through the window, she sees a gigantic resort called the Breakers. It is resplendent, sun-drenched, not quite real—like something you'd see in the movies.
It makes for an interesting contrast.
"We'll wait for her," Wendy says to the girl in the passenger seat. "Then we can all go to the mall."
It's like she's not there. Mary wants to say something about it, but she doesn't know if the other girls would even respond. Wendy's always seemed so much cooler than kids Mary's age. This other girl's just a mystery. And when Wendy does turn around to speak to Mary, her stare seems to slice right through the younger girl.
"Remember," Wendy says, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Palm Beach police. "When he asks how old you are, say eighteen."
The light changes, and Wendy turns back around but keeps looking at Mary in the rearview mirror.
"I mean it," says Wendy.
Who would believe her? Anyone can see that Mary is younger than that.
"Okay," she says. "I got it. Eighteen."
Mary takes out her flip phone and sends Joe a text: "Your cousin is a BAMF."
A badass motherfucker.
There's no reply.
"Or maybe she's just a bitch," Mary texts.
Still no reply.
Joe must still be in church, Mary thinks.
They pass El Bravo Way and turn onto El Brillo Way.
Wendy's driving slowly now, right at the speed limit. Once more, she says: "When the man asks your age, say eighteen."
Mary nods again and smiles, slightly. She wants Wendy to see her smiling. To know that she's got it all under control. But Wendy's eyes are on the front gate now. It opens, she parks, and they walk past a guard.
"We're here to see Jeff," says Wendy.
The guard nods—of course you are—and leads them to the side door.
They're in the kitchen now. Mary, Wendy, some middle-aged man. The man has a long face, bushy eyebrows, and thick silver hair—and he's fit. As fit as the jocks that Mary goes to school with. Not attractive, exactly. He's way too old for that. But confident, in a way that makes an impression.
Standing behind the man there's a woman. She's blond, very pretty, much taller than Wendy.
What a strange scene, Mary thinks. She can't shake the feeling that the man is studying her. Then he nods, and he and Wendy walk out of the kitchen. A little while later, they're back.
"Sarah," the man says to the tall woman. "You can take Mary upstairs."
Sarah takes Mary up a wide winding staircase carpeted in pink. Together they walk down a hall that's got photographs on the wall—naked women. Long curtains cover windows and don't let in much light. In the air, there's a strong lavender fragrance.
Then they come to a room containing a green-and-pink sofa. There's a large bathroom off to one side and doors on either side of the sofa. There's a wooden armoire with sex toys on it. There's a massage table, too, and a mural of a naked woman.
"Wait here," says Sarah. "Jeff will be up in a moment."
Mary's too freaked out to do anything else. Fidgeting with her belt loops, she sits on the sofa, jumps up again.
Then she sees the picture.
All the girls in the photos are young. But the girl in this one's just a baby.
Much younger than Mary herself.
The girl's smiling, but the smile's mixed with something else—some sort of anxiety that's out of place on such a small face. And what she's doing is shocking: pulling her underwear off to the side. Flashing one of her tiny apple-round butt cheeks toward the camera.
Mary gasps. She turns around. And there's Epstein standing in front of her, wearing nothing but a towel.
Michael Reiter: March 2005
Chief Reiter looks more like a bank president than a cop. He's well built, with an air of formality and discretion. But he's got twenty-four years on the job. Decades earlier, he was a campus police officer in Pittsburgh. Then he rose, steadily, through the ranks in Palm Beach, moving up from patrol officer to detective, working vice, narcotics, and organized crime, then becoming a sergeant, captain, major, and assistant chief—a job he held for three years—before becoming chief of police. Reiter is what you'd call seasoned, although chief of police in Palm Beach is a job that calls upon his political skills as much as his street smarts.
Then again, from time to time, things do happen.
Once in a blue moon there are murders—though these are so rare that they tend to be remembered for decades.
Sometimes there are hurricanes to contend with, and, when the sea calms, human cargo washes up on the shore. Sometimes traffickers aim the bows of their boats at the glow of the Breakers resort, order their passengers to go overboard, then tell them to swim.
Most of the passengers are Haitian—men, women, and children who stake all they have on a chance at a life in America. From time to time, Palm Beach cops have to retrieve their bodies from the surf.
Things get busier during the wintertime, or, as the locals call it, the season. It's when the very rich come to town, throw parties and balls, shop, and tangle traffic at the intersections around Worth Avenue. The population booms, and the men and women who work under Chief Reiter deal with fender benders, shoplifters, and snotty skateboarding teenagers. There are DUIs. Domestic disturbances. Choking victims and heart attacks. It's routine stuff, but there's always lots of it. Enough to keep the men and women who work for Reiter busy.
Chief Reiter's proud of the team he has built. And, the team knows, they're lucky to have him. Reiter's extremely well qualified for the job. If anything, he's overqualified, with a certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and antiterrorist training at Quantico, courtesy of the FBI. It's not brought up often at cocktail parties in Palm Beach, but several of the 9/11 hijackers lived in Palm Beach County. They took flight lessons at local airstrips. A few, including the mastermind, Mohamed Atta, had been regulars at 251 Sunrise, a chic nightclub in Palm Beach. There they had regaled any woman who would listen with made-up stories about their adventures as pilots.
But 251 Sunrise is shuttered now. The joint was shut down in 2004, after an avalanche of noise complaints. For the moment, Palm Beach is as quiet and calm as any place Reiter has dreamed about.
For the moment.
Mary: March 2005
If there's no traffic, Mary's hometown is less than thirty minutes away from the island of Palm Beach. But in economic terms it's a world away. Her high school is run by the county. Most of Mary's classmates are black. Thirty percent are Hispanic, as she is. The rest are white. The school has a C rating, and lots of students receive free or discounted lunches. Mary is one of those students. But inch by inch, she's working her way out of the crab barrel. A good kid, her teachers think. A kid with a future in front of her.
Weeks have gone by since her meeting with Epstein. She hasn't told anyone about the visit. Still, other kids at the high school have noticed a change.
"Yo, Mary," a friend says. "What's up with you anyway?"
This is a kid who veers from nice to mean, depending on who else is around.
Still, a friend.
"Nothing," says Mary.
"You got your period?"
"Shut the fuck up," Mary whispers.
There have been rumors going around, she knows that. Rumors started by a girl who has eyes for Joe.
"Whore," her rival shouts in the hallway one day.
"You're the whore," Mary shouts back.
Mary rushes the girl, who shoves back, grabbing at Mary's hair, twisting and tugging. Someone yells, "Catfight!" By the time the bell rings for next period, Mary's sitting in the principal's office.
She shakes her head in reply to the questions, stays silent, feeling humiliated.
Then, in her wallet, they find the three hundred dollars.
Mary's too young and too small to be stripping. Besides, the bills are all twenties, not singles or fives. When they call Mary's parents, her teachers suggest a more obvious explanation: Does Mary do drugs or deal them?
Mary's father knows better than that. "No," he insists. A psychologist is called in. And then, Mary does start talking.
Once she does, she can't stop.
It's a wild story. Highly disturbing. A mansion in Palm Beach. A powerful man. This is all far from the principal's wheelhouse. It's definitely a matter for the police. In the meantime, the school's recommending a transfer, purely temporarily, to a facility for troubled kids—ones with "issues."
Mary's a good girl, it's true. But further confrontations at the high school will not be tolerated.
Michele Pagan: March 2005
On March 15, Palm Beach police officer Michele Pagan takes the first call from Mary's stepmother.
"Ma'am," she says, "I'm going to have to ask you to come down to the station."
"I don't want to say anything more until I speak with my husband."
"Ma'am, I appreciate that. But I'd urge you to come in. Let us find out what happened. Please."
"I'll get back to you."
"Please, ma'am. I'm here for the rest of the day. We're on South County Road."
At the station, Mary's father does most of the talking.
"There was an incident," he says. "At school. A fight between Mary and another girl. But please understand, our Mary's not like that."
- "Behind all the noise and the numbers, we shouldn't forget that no one gets this big without amazing natural storytelling talent--which is what James Patterson has, in spades."—Lee Child
- Patterson's books might as well come with movie tickets as a bonus feature.—New York Times
- Patterson is in a class by himself.— Vanity Fair
- The man who can't miss.—TIME magazine
- James Patterson isthe gold standard by which all others are judged.—Steve Berry
- Patterson has mastered the art of writing page-turning bestsellers.—Chicago Sun-Times
- "It's no mystery why James Patterson is the world's most popular thriller writer: his uncanny skill in creating living, breathing characters we truly feel for and seamless, lightning-fast plots. I do this for a living, and he still manages to keep me guessing from the first to last page. Simply put: Nobody does it better."—Jeffrey Deaver
- "James Patterson is The Boss. End of."—Ian Rankin
- On Sale
- Oct 10, 2016
- Page Count
- 320 pages
- Little, Brown and Company