Book Nine in the Sam Jameson series. Over 1,000,000 fans in 17 countries.
The runaway #1 Bestseller from USA Today Bestselling Author Lars Emmerich, performed by Cynthia Piller.
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***SPOILER WARNING: Do not read any further until you have read BURN!
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It's been two short weeks since her harrowing experience in the mountain cabin, and former Homeland agent Sam Jameson is still a long way from okay.
She's spent the time driving aimlessly, alone and anonymous, trying to make sense of her ordeal.
Those unimaginable words -- "Yes, Madam Facilitator" -- echo in her memory for the thousandth time as she happens upon a beautiful, traumatized, and nearly naked young woman fleeing for her life in the midnight cold.
Hours later, Sam finds herself in the Philadelphia police commissioner's office with his blood on her hands.
A heinous crime is in the making; two dozen lives hang in the balance.
And hidden in the background, a daring conspiracy threatens all that Sam holds dear.
The Wrong is "the most intense Sam Jameson novel yet" in USA Today Bestselling Author Lars Emmerich’s runaway international hit Sam Jameson series, loved by over 1,000,000 fans of espionage, conspiracy, and crime thrillers from masters such as James Patterson, David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Catherine Coulter, and Daniel Silva.
"The best Sam Jameson novel yet, and that's saying something!"
"Love love LOVE this series!"
"Everything you've come to expect from Lars. He just keeps getting better."
"The Wrong is hands down the best thriller I ever read."
"I couldn't stop reading but I didn't want it to end!"
"I literally stayed up until sunrise reading this book. SO GOOD!"
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Enjoy a sample from THE WRONG
SPOILER WARNING: Do not read this excerpt until you have read BURN.
Based on true events.
IT WAS the kind of wrong that can never be righted. That’s why I thumbed off the safety on the .45 in my purse, steeled myself, and gave the ornate door handle a twist.
I didn’t have an appointment. I wasn’t expected. I didn’t arrive during business hours. I didn’t use the front door.
Truth be told, I was trespassing. They could easily charge me with breaking and entering, and no doubt it would stick.
But that wasn’t even close to the end of it. I was just getting started.
I had no delusions, and I wasn’t out to save the world. I’d been around too long to believe any of the fairy tales about justice and the rule of law. I’d spent the first four billion years of my adult life at Homeland catching spies. I’d had no prayer of emerging with my idealism intact.
But I had left Homeland with a full bag of deeply antisocial tricks. I chalk it up as one danger of training good people to do bad things. Somewhere along the way, we can’t help but lose our goodness. Ends and means, blah blah, but it’s hard not to lose your soul trying to serve the higher good using the devil’s tools.
“Hello, Commissioner,” I trilled, a massive smile on my face, breasts out and prominent, hips doing that thing that tickles the male lizard-brain into instant submission. I marched into Frederick Posner’s office balanced atop my ludicrously expensive Jimmy Choos, artificial cheer cranked up to eleven, looking for all the world as if someone had hired me to deliver a singing telegram.
Ruddy complexion, barrel chest giving way to a beer keg around the waist, enough medals hanging on his police jacket to make a third-world dictator green with envy, hands moving quickly beneath his desk, undoubtedly reaching for his service revolver or the panic button mounted beneath the desktop.
I shook my head. I had expected to be a little more impressed by the face of pure evil.
“Please don’t,” I said, gesturing toward his hands with my “borrowed” handgun, its sturdy heft calming my jangly nerves and dampening the tremor in my hands.
I’d used a gun in anger many times before, but never under circumstances like these.
In the past, I’d been an agent of the state, dispatched to serve justice and comeuppance, or at least to do the bidding of the state. But I’d walked away from the job, even if I was having a hard time walking away from the life.
So this was anything but official duty.
In fact, it was homicide.
The word scorched through my brain like a red hot poker. I blinked and shook my head to clear the thought from my mind, but it left sweaty palms and a metallic taste in my mouth on its way out. It’s one thing to contemplate an idea; it’s another thing entirely to stand in a man’s office with a gun pointed at his face.
I shook my head again. Focus.
“Hands above your head,” I said to Posner. “You’re a cop. You should be better at this.”
Posner’s red face had turned pale and his chest heaved. “You’re making a mistake,” he stammered, sounding nothing like the calm, confident, self-assured police commissioner I’d seen on TV.
“Undoubtedly,” I said, aligning the white dot on the gun’s barrel between the white lines near the hammer and pointing the whole thing just above a prominent crease in the center of Posner’s forehead. “Probably several mistakes. Odds are, at least one of them is important, maybe even fatal.”
I talk too much when I’m nervous.
“One chance, Frederick,” I said. “I won’t ask more than once. Are you ready?”
Posner’s eyes closed, his shoulders heaved, and his head shook side to side.
His reaction was all wrong. Way too submissive, resigned... scared.
I got a sinking feeling like I’d seen this movie before and didn’t like the ending.
“I don’t know who you are, but please, think this through,” Posner said. A note of hysteria crept into his words. I took it as a sign that I was doing a good enough job hiding my own nerves. But I was fairly sure that I was mere seconds away from peeing myself.
No statute of limitations.
In a death penalty state.
My two decades of federal service might be enough to stave off the needle, but I’d surely get life in prison.
“You have a warehouse,” I said, “and at least two co-conspirators.”
Posner’s eyes squeezed shut. His breath came in gasps. It surprised me again. Here was a career cop who’d cut his teeth on the streets of Philly, one of the most violent cities in one of the most violent nations in the developed world. One middle-aged redhead in a leather skirt and designer shoes wielding a handgun shouldn’t have had nearly the effect I seemed to be having.
Maybe, I thought, Posner was having a hard time holding it together because he could see the crazy written all over my face. It hadn’t been the best of months and I’m sure I looked unhinged.
“Get ahold of yourself, Commissioner,” I said. “I want to know where they are. Right now. No bullshit.”
He shook his massive skull and his eyes blinked fast, darting from side to side as the adrenaline played havoc in his brain. The eyes finally settled on me, a little too small for his jowly face and a little too close together to seem entirely trustworthy. How had this man made it so far in life?
Then I saw a semblance of the street cop return, clawing its way to the surface after years of office politics and shady side deals. “Nobody waltzes into police headquarters with a gun,” he said. “Drop it now and you won’t be shot.”
But his performance wasn’t convincing. I laughed, harsh and bitter. “Final answer?”
“Jesus,” he said. “I don’t know where they are.” I heard panic creeping into his voice again. The man had made a career out of deception and coverups, but I had a strong sense that he was telling the truth.
“Have it your way,” I said. I refined my aim and drew a breath.
“Please,” Posner pleaded. His first sob caught me by surprise. Big, tough-looking guy like that, breaking down like a bitch. I was disgusted, standing there watching him snivel, thinking about the unspeakable things this man had done just a few hours earlier. The corners of my mouth turned down and there was no mercy in my soul.
His face contorted and his jowls shook. “I really don’t know!”
“I’m losing patience, Frederick.”
He said the usual things—please, you must believe me, they emptied the warehouse and I don’t know where they took the kids, etcetera, but his words weren’t compelling.
And I was busy applying pressure with my index finger.
And then my ears were ringing and that unmistakable smell hit my nostrils and Frederick Posner’s diseased mind was suddenly spread all over the oak paneling behind his desk. His massive form settled a bit, lost its rigor in increments, wound up a slumped heap of dark blue and deep red. Blood drained in weak arterial spurts from his ruined skull, and I could taste the sickly sweetness in the air.
Done and done. One fewer subhuman littering the gene pool.
Then I had a moment of clarity in which I became keenly and frighteningly aware that my life had just changed forever. Behind me was a clear, bright line that could never be uncrossed.
My instinct was to run like hell, but my job wasn’t finished. And I was wearing heels and a skirt. Not conducive to fleeing in panic. I hurried around Posner’s pretentious desk, littered with grinning photos taken with crooked politicians, gangsters, and long-irrelevant semi-celebrities. I used my forearm to shift his heft and ran my finger against the bone behind his ear, taking care to avoid the gaping maw full of muck, noting with disgust that Posner’s bladder and bowels had emptied.
I fought nausea. My hand moved on his scalp, fingers pressing, searching. Sweat and dandruff added to the charm. I was looking for something that might not exist, might never be found, already wondering how long I could stand there before panic and revulsion overtook me.
I moved his graying hair aside to look. The bump was rectangular with rounded edges and a small surgical scar nearby. Bingo.
I placed the barrel of the gun an inch away from the bump, closed my eyes against the splatter, and pulled the trigger again.
I clicked the safety in place and put the gun in my purse. I knelt to retrieve the spent shell casings and dropped them into my purse as well. Then I walked out of the Philadelphia Police Commissioner’s office, locked the door behind me, took a left, opened the emergency exit, and calmly descended the stairs.
I’d done the math many times in my head, and I knew roughly how much time I had to exit the building before the guard locked the place down. Six minutes in the best case, and three minutes at worst, assuming in both cases that the fat pencil-pusher at the security desk knew right where to go. Conservative assumption, but optimistic planning had never seemed to pay off in my years of fieldwork.
Sounds assaulted me as I descended the stairs past the door to the fourth floor. Muffled shouts and hard shoes pounding hard floors gave me the urge to kick off my heels and sprint for the nearest exit, but that would have been a rookie mistake, and nobody would look at the lines on my face and the bags under my eyes and mistake me for a rookie. I walked with manufactured nonchalance, even coaxed my face into a soft smile. Just a well-dressed woman descending a few flights of stairs in the Philadelphia Police Headquarters building. Nothing to see here.
The night air was colder than hell and the sting of it caught me off guard as I exited the service entrance. My nose burned and a shiver ran through me. I hunched my shoulders and ducked my ears beneath my collar.
A giant land-barge of an automobile idled at the curb, a Buick/Lincoln/Ford-type thing that spanned several counties, the kind of car owned only by retirees and feds and drug dealers with a strong sense of irony. Its exhaust swirled in white clouds beneath the streetlights. I opened the rear door on the passenger side and climbed inside.
I gave a nod to the driver, a girl of some nineteen years old, and she hit the accelerator.
“One down?” Stacey asked.
“Two to go,” I replied.