Season of the Machete


By James Patterson

Read by Lou Diamond Phillips

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From the best-selling, Edgar Award-winning author James Patterson comes a classic thriller.Cool and glamorous, they could be a successful couple on a holiday. But Damian and Carrie Rose are psychopathic murderers for hire. Their new venue is a picture-perfect vacation island. Their adversary will be Peter Macdonald, the dashing young American who forsakes a life of leisure for a confrontation with cold-blooded terror. And risks everything only to discover that he alone suspects the hideous truth about the Season of the Machete.


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

Copyright © 1977, 1995 by James Patterson

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover design by Dale Fiorillo

Caver art by James Montalbano

Grand Central Publishing

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Originally published in hardcover by Little, Brown and Company

ISBN: 978-0-7595-6757-3

First eBook Edition: April 1995


"A first-rate thriller—fasten your seat belts and keep the lights on."

Sidney Sheldon

"As engrossing as it is graphic, Along Came a Spider is an incredibly suspenseful read with a one-of-a-kind villain who is as terrifying as he is intriguing. Has to be one of the best thrillers of the year."

Clive Cussler

"What a large charge it is to come upon such a good writer so unexpectedly."

Richard Condon

"All at once comes Along Came a Spider, with terror and suspense that grabs the reader and won't let go. Just try running away from this one."

Ed McBain


"A taut thriller that rivals the best of Ludlum and Follett."

Chattanooga Times

"A gripper!"

United Press International

"A tough, twisting tale that will keep even the bulls and bears reading past the opening bell,"

New York Daily News

"You cannot put it down… tense, gripping… pays off in gilt-coated, hard-edged entertainment."

Atlanta Journal & Constitution

"A gripping, fast-moving yarn that will keep the reader turning pages."

Houston Post

The novels of James Patterson


Double Cross


Mary, Mary

London Bridges

The Big Bad Wolf

Four Blind Mice

Violets Are Blue

Roses Are Red

Pop Goes the Weasel

Cat & Mouse

Jack & Jill

Kiss the Girls

Along Came a Spider


The 6th Target (and Maxine Paetro)

The 5th Horseman (and Maxine Paetro)

4th of July (and Maxine Paetro)

3rd Degree (and Andrew Gross)

2nd Chance (and Andrew Gross)

1st to Die


You've Been Warned (and Howard Roughan)

The Quickie (and Michael Ledwidge)

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Step on a Crack (and Michael Ledwidge)

Judge & Jury (and Andrew Gross)

Maximum Ride: School's Out — Forever

Beach Road (and Peter de Jonge)

Lifeguard (and Andrew Gross)

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Honeymoon (and Howard Roughan)


Sam's Letters to Jennifer

The Lake House

The Jester (and Andrew Gross)

The Beach House (and Peter de Jonge)

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas

Cradle and All

Black Friday

When the Wind Blows

See How They Run

Miracle on the 17th Green (and Peter de Jonge)

Hide & Seek

The Midnight Club

Season of the Machete

The Thomas Berryman Number

For previews of upcoming James Patterson novels and information about the author, visit

April 30, 1980; Turtle Bay

On the gleaming white-sand lip of the next cove, Kingfish and the Cuban can see a couple walking on the beach. They are just stick figures at this distance. Absolutely perfect victims. Perfect.

Hidden in palm trees and sky blue wild lilies, the two killers cautiously watch the couple slowly come their way and disappear into the cove.

The Cuban wears a skull-tight, red-and-yellow bandanna; rip-kneed khaki trousers; scuffed, pale orange construction boots from the Army-Navy Store in Miami. The man called Kingfish has on nothing but greasy U.S. Army khakis.

The muscles of both men ripple in the hard, beating Caribbean sun.

The bright sun makes diamonds and blinking asterisks all over the sea. It glints off a sugar-cane machete hanging from the belt of the Cuban.

The weatherbeaten farm implement is two and a half feet long and sharp as a razor blade.

South of their hiding place, a great wrecked schooner—the Isabelle Anne—sits lonely and absurd, visited only by yellow birds and fish. Thirty yards farther south, the beach elbows around steep black rocks and makes a crystal path for walking. At this sharp bend lie reef fish, coral, sargassum, oyster drills, sea urchins.

Soon now, the two killers expect the couple to emerge from the cove and reappear on the narrow white path. The victims.

Perhaps a dark, bejeweled prime minister up on holiday from South America? Or an American politician with a coin- and milk-fed young woman who was both secretary and mistress?

Someone worth their considerable fees and passage to this serene and beautiful part of the world. Someone worth $50,000 apiece for less than one week's work.

Instead, a harmless-looking pair of adolescents turn the seaweed-strewn bend into Turtle Bay.

A bony, long-haired rich boy. A white-blond girl in a Club Mediterranee T-shirt. Americans.

On the run, they clumsily get out of their shirts, shorts, sandals, and underwear. Balls and little tits naked, they shout something about last one in is a rotten egg and run into the low, starry waves.

Twenty or thirty feet over their heads, seagulls make a sound almost like mountain sheep bleating.

Aaaaaa! Aaaaaa! Aaaaaa! Aaaaaa!

The man called Kingfish puts out an expensive black cigar in the sand. A low, animal moan rises out of his throat.

" We couldn't have come all this way to kill these two little shits."

The Cuban cautions him, "Wait and see. Watch them carefully."

"Aaagghh! Aaagghh!" The boy offers tin-ear bird imitations from the rippling water.

The slender blond girl screams, "I can't stand it. It's so goddamn unbelievably beautiful!"

She dives into sparkling aquamarine waves. Surfaces with her long hair plastered against her head. Her white breasts are small, nubby; up-pointed and rubbery from the cool water.

"I love this place already. Don't ever want to go back. Gramercy Park—yeck! I spit on East Twenty-third Street. Yeck! Yahoo! Yow!"

The Cuban slowly raises his hand above the blue lilies and prickle bushes. He waves in the direction of a green sedan parked on a lush hill overlooking the beach.

The sedan's horn sounds once. Their signal.

An eerie silence has come over the place.

Heartbeats; surf; little else.

The boy and girl lie on fluffy beach towels to dry under the sun. They close their eyes, and the backs of their eyelids become kaleidoscopes of changing color.

The girl sings, "'Eastern's got my sunshine …'"

The boy makes an impolite gurgling sound.

As the girl opens one eye, she feels a hard slap on the top of her head. It is painfully hot all of a sudden, and she feels dizzy. She starts to say "Aahhh" but chokes on thick, bubbling blood.

Pop … pop …

The slightest rifle shots echo in the surrounding hills.

Bullets travel out of an expensive West German rifle at 3,300 feet per second.

Then Kingfish and the Cuban come and stand over the bodies on the blood-spotted towels. Kingfish touches the boy's cheek and produces an unexpected moan, almost a growl.

"I don't think I like Mr. Damian Rose," he says in a soft, French-accented voice. "Very sorry I left Paris now. He's let this one live … for us."

The dying nineteen-year-old coughs. Blue eyes rolling, he speaks. "Why?" the boy asks. "Didn't do anything…."

The Cuban swings the machete high. He chops down as if he were in the thickest jungle brush, as if he were cutting a tree with a single stroke.

Chop, wriggle, lift.

The killer meticulously attacks both bodies with the long broadsword. Clean, hard strokes. Devastating. Blood squirts high and sprays the killer. Flesh and bone part like air in the path of the razor-sharp knife. Puddles of frothy blood are quickly soaked up by the sand, leaving dark red stains.

When the butchering is over, the Cuban drives the machete deep into the sand. He sets a red wool hat over the knife's handle and hasp.

Then both killers look up into the hills. They see the distant figure of Damian Rose beside the shiny green car. The handsome blond man is motioning for them to hurry back. He is waving his fancy German rifle high over his head.

What they can't quite see is that Damian Rose is smiling in triumph.


The Damian and Carrie Rose Diary


Consider the raw power and unlimited potential of the good old-fashioned "thrill kill." Under proper supervision, of course.

The Rose Diary

January 23, 1981; New York City

At 6:30 A.M. on the twenty-third of January, the birth date of his only child, Mary Ellen, Bernard Siegel—tall, dark, slightly myopic—began his "usual" breakfast of loose scrambled eggs, poppyseed bagel, and black coffee at Wolfs Delicatessen on West Fifty-seventh Street in New York City.

After the satisfying meal, Siegel took a Checker cab through slushy brown snow to 800 Third Avenue. He used his private collection of seven keys to let himself into the modern dark-glass building, then into the offices of the publisher par excellence for whom he worked, and finally into the largest small office on that floor—his office—to try to get some busywork done before the many-too-many phones began to ring; to try to get home early enough to spend time with his daughter. On her twelfth birthday.

A young woman, very, very tan, squeaky clean, with premature silver all through her long, sandy hair, was standing before the dark, double-glazed windows.

The woman appeared to be watching 777 Third Avenue (the Building across and down Third Avenue), or perhaps she was just staring at her own reflection.

Bernard Siegel said, "One—how the hell did you get in here? Two—who the hell are you? Three—please leave."

"My name is Carrie Rose." The woman turned to face him. She looked to be twenty-eight or twenty-nine, spectacularly poised and cool.

"I've come to make you an even more famous man than you are now. You are Siegel, aren't you?"

The editor couldn't hold back a slight smile, the smallest possible parting of thin, severe lips. She called him "Siegel."

Damn these shameless, impudent young writers, he thought. Had she actually slept in his office to get an interview? To give lucky him first crack at this year's Fear of Flying, or Flying, or The Flies!

Squinting badly, pathetically, for a man under forty, Siegel studied Carrie Rose. Mrs. Carrie Rose, he was to find out soon. Wife of Damian Rose. Soldier of fortune herself.

Under closer scrutiny, the young woman was striking, tall, and fashionably trim. Vogue-ish.

She had on large tortoiseshell eyeglasses that made her look more sharp-witted than she probably was; the blue pin-striped suit was meant to keep Siegel off his guard, he was sure. An old Indian dodge.

"All right, I'm Siegel," the nearsighted editor finally admitted. "I'm hardly famous. And this sort of clever, gratuitous nonsense doesn't cut it with me…. Please leave my office. Go back and write one more draft of your wonderful book. Make a regular-hours appointment with my—"

"Oh, but you are famous, Bernard." The woman interrupted him with an ingenue's toothy grin. "You're so well known, in fact, that busy people like myself go to great inconvenience to give you million-dollar book properties. Books that will make, at the very least, dents in history."

Siegel laughed. A cruel little laugh, but she deserved it.

"Only a million for it?"

Carrie Rose laughed, too. "Something like that."

She examined Siegel closely, then looked casually around his office at the unmatched oak and pine bookcases on two of the walls; an Olivetti Lettera typewriter tucked inside the banged-up rolltop desk, with sheafs of crisp white bond stacked neatly beside it; new, shiny book jackets pinned to a cork board; manuscripts in different-color typewriter-paper boxes.

The editor.

Siegel put down his briefcase, kicked off his loafers, and sat on his chair. He gave her a long cold stare. "Well, where is this magnum opus?"

"You haven't had it ghostwritten yet," the young woman said. Carrie Rose. "Your writer's source material will be a diary my husband, Damian, and I kept last year. An unusual, very original diary that will cost you two million dollars. It's about… an awful nest of machete murders. Over a hundred of them."

The pretty woman said it very coolly … "an awful nest of machete murders."


The Season of the Machete


March–July, 1979

Death in Lathrop Wells


Damian theorized that within fifty years man would move onto and into the sea. San Dominica was only a very small beginning. An exploratory expedition. Kid stuff. The people who engineered it didn't understand their own inner motivation … three-fifths of the world is water, and that was about to be fought over on a staggering scale….

The Rose Diary

February 24, 1979; Lathrop Wells, Nevada

As the stupid, piggy Chevrolet Impala floated through buzzard-infested desert, Isadore "the Mensch" Goldman was thinking that he was slightly surprised there really was a state of Nevada.

Every so often, though, the Chevrolet passed a tin road sign with PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA stamped into it by some convict at Washoe County Jail.

Once, Goldman even saw some Nevadans: a woman and small children with frayed ankle boots, turquoise jewelry, faces the color of pretzel sticks.

Somewhere out here they tested H-bombs, the old man was thinking. At Mercury, Nevada.

Then the seventy-four-year-old's mind went walking.

He remembered something itchy about the still-not-to-be-believed Bay of Pigs invasion. Then a very brief, fuzzy association he'd had with Rafael Trujillo that same year: 1961.

Goldman's history. All leading up to February 24, 1979. The biggest day of the old man's life.


A man named Vincent "Zio" Tuch was patting Isadore's gray-striped banker's trousers at one baggy knee. Death spots were all over Tuch's unsteady hand.

"Bizee Izzee, what are you thinkin'?" Tuch rasped. "You thinkin' this is a big-fashion setup, Izzie? That's what I'm thinkin'."

"Aahh … I'm getting too damn old to think all the time." The consigliere casually dismissed the powerful old capo. It was a typically stupid, if wellmeant, Mustache Pete question.

Old Tuch told him to go make shit in his own pants—which was also typical.

Also typical was the fact that the caporegime smelled of cheap hair tonic spilled over twenty-year-old dandruff.

Goldman had flatly predicted that the final meeting at Lathrop Wells would be ridiculous beyond human belief. Even he was surprised. It had the consistency of Silly Putty. It looked like the opening scene of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

To begin with, both sides arrived at the farm in the most absurd "anonymous-looking" automobiles.

Goldman watched and counted bodies through the green-tinted windows of his own Impala.

There were nine chauffeurs driving such cars as Mustangs, Wildcats, Hornets, Cougars—even a Volkswagen Beetle.

There were seven bodyguards, out-and-out Buster Crabbe types.

Eleven actual participants besides himself and the shriveling zombie Tuch.

Somebody had remarked at the last meeting that they didn't want to have another Appalachia at Lathrop Wells: twenty Cadillac Fleetwoods suddenly arriving at some deserted farmhouse. Drawing attention from locals or the state police.

So there were none of the usual big black cars at the meeting in the Nevada desert.

All of the twenty-seven men wore dark business suits, with the exception of one Gucci-Pucci fag and Frankie "the Cat" Rao of Brooklyn, New York. Rao wore a black-and-white-checked sports jacket, a sleazy open-necked electric blue shirt, white Bing Crosby shoes.

"Dirty azzhole," old Tuch said. "Azzhole with all of his pinky rings."

"All very predictable," Isadore Goldman muttered. The old man lit up his first cigarette in more than eight months. Then he headed inside, through hot, heavy air that smelled like horses.

Inside the farmhouse it was air-conditioned, thank God.

A Fedders was blowing dust and what looked like cereal flakes all around the rustic, low-ceilinged rooms.

Goldman noticed the other side's head man whisper something to a younger man—his aide-decamp. The younger man looked a little like the Hollywood actor Montgomery Clift.

His name was Brooks Campbell, and he would be going to the Caribbean for them.

The older man, their side's main spokesman, was Harold Hill. Harry the Hack to the trade.

Harold Hill had spent nearly ten years in Southeast Asia, and he had a certain inscrutable look about him. Something intangible. Isadore Goldman suspected that Hill was a pretty good killer for such an obvious loser type.

Within ten minutes the thirteen important negotiators had settled down comfortably around a widebeam table in the living room. Characteristically, they had taken opposite sides at the big wooden table.

Dark, slightly European-looking men on one side.

All-American football-player types on the other.

"By way of a brief introduction"—Goldman began the meeting after allowing just a snitch of small talk—"it was agreed at the last meeting—January seventeenth—that if Damian and Carrie Rose were available, they would be satisfactory contract operators for everybody concerned…."

Goldman peeked over his silver-rimmed eyeglasses. So far, no objections.

"Consequently," he continued, "the Roses were contacted at a hotel in Paris. The St. Louis, it's called. An old gun sellers' hangout through several wars now.

"The Roses were given one month to prepare an outline for a plan that would achieve results agreeable to both sides at this table. They declined making an appearance at this meeting, however."

The consigliere looked up again. He then began to read from twenty-odd pages sent to him by the Roses. The pages outlined two rough plans for the proposed operations. One plan was titled "Systematic Government Assassinations," the other was simply called "Machete."

Also included in the brief was a list of pros and cons for each plan.

In fact, what seemed to impress both sides gathered around the table—what had impressed Goldman himself—was the seriousness with which both theoretical plans had been approached and researched.

They were referred to specifically as "rough," "experimental," but the outline for each seemed obsessively airtight. Typically Damian Rose.

"The final bid they put in for this work," Isadore Goldman reported, "is one point two million. I myself think it's a fair estimate. I think it's low, in fact. … I also think this man Damian Rose is a genius. Perhaps the woman is, too. Gentlemen?"

Predictably, Frankie Rao had the first word on the plans.

"Is that fuckin' francs or dollars, Izzie?" he shouted down the wooden plank table. "It's fuckin' dollars those loonie tunes are talking about, isn't it?"

Goldman noticed that their man, Harold Hill, seemed startled and upset by the New York mobster.

The young man who looked like Montgomery Clift broke into a toothpaste smile, however. Brooks Campbell. Good for you, Isadore Goldman thought. Smart boy. Break the goddamn tensions down a little.

For the first time since the meeting began, most of the men at the long wooden table laughed. Both sides laughed like hell. Even Frankie Rao began to howl.

As the laughter died down, Goldman nodded to a dark-haired man who sat very quietly at the far end of the table. Goldman then nodded at their side's chief man, Harold Hill.

"Does the figure include all expenses?" was Hill's only question. The young man-at his side, Campbell, nodded as if this were his question, too.

"It includes every expense," Isadore Goldman said. "The Roses expect this to take approximately one year to carry out. They'll have to use twenty to thirty other professionals along the way. A Who's Who of the most elite mercenaries."

"Dirt cheap." The quiet, dark-haired man suddenly spoke in a deep, Senate floor voice. The man was Charles Forlenza, forty-three-year-old don of the Forlenza Family. The boss of bosses.

"You've gotten us a good price and good people, Isadore. As I expected. … I can't speak for Mr. Hill, but I'm pleased with this work myself."

"The price is appropriate for this kind of guerrilla operation." Harold Hill addressed the don. "The Roses' reputation for this sort of complex, delicate work is excellent. I'm happy. Good."

At this point on February 24, 1979, the United States, through a proprietary company called Great Western Air Transport, entered into one of the more interesting alliances in its two-hundred-year history: a large-scale working agreement with the Charles Forlenza Family of the West Coast. The Cosa Nostra.

For both sides it meant that they could immediately farm out some very necessary dirty work.

Neither the United States nor the Forlenzas wanted to soil their hands with what had to be done in the Caribbean during 1979.

That was why they had so very carefully sought out Damian and Carrie Rose. Les Dements, as the couple was once called in Southeast Asia. The Maniacs.

Two hours after the meeting in southwestern Nevada—on the way back to Las Vegas—a silver-gray Buick Wildcat stopped along a long stretch of flat, open highway. The youthful chauffeur of the car got out. He went to the back door of the sedan and opened it. Then Melo Russo politely asked his boss to get out of the car.

"Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?" Frankie Rao said to his driver, a skinny young shark in reflector sunglasses.

"All right, so fuck you, then," Melo said.

He fired three times into the backseat of the Buick. Blood spattered all over the rear windows and slowly misted down onto the light silver seat covers. Then Russo dragged Frankie the Cat's body outside and put it in the trunk of the car.

It had been quietly decided at the farmhouse meeting that Frankie Rao was an unacceptable risk for Harold Hill and the nice young man who looked like Montgomery Clift.

"Typical," Isadore Goldman muttered somewhere out on the Nevada desert.


Once—in France, this was—in June or July—Damian had gone on a tirade about how perfect our work in Cambodia and Vietnam had been. How it bothered the hell out of him that no one could know. That there was no way to capitalize on the work … Funny quirk (twist): In a French village, Grasse, we sat in an espresso house. Damian conversed in English with a very polite street cleaner who spoke no English at all. He told the man every last detail about the Caribbean adventure. "Genie! Demon! Non?" he said in French at the end of it. The poor confused street cleaner smiled as if Damian were an insane little boy….

The Rose Diary

June 11, 1979; Paris


On Sale
May 1, 2006
Hachette Audio

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.

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