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What's Inside


SHORTLY BEFORE EIGHT THE next morning, I got the call about the Kane family. Sampson and I soon arrived in one of the toniest neighborhoods in Potomac, Maryland, and found Ned Mahoney and his forensics team waiting for us.

“No one’s been inside except the maternal grandmother, who came by to pick up her nine-year-old granddaughter for a trip to New York,” Mahoney said, leading the way through the gates and up the slight rise in the driveway to a neo-Georgian manor. “Grandma was hysterical when I tried to talk to her. EMTs are giving her something to calm her down. Her husband is on the way.”

“I gather the victims were big-time wealthy,” Sampson said. “And young,” Mahoney said. “Irwin and Linda Kane, of Kane Tech Advisers. They made a fortune doing consulting work for the government—Justice, Pentagon, and CIA.”

“Any indication that that work is involved here?” I asked.

“As motive?” Ned said. “None so far. Sounds like Family Man all the way.”

After donning blue booties, hairnets, and gloves, we went inside through the garage door, which Mrs. Kane’s mother had opened with her key. The alarm system had been disarmed.

The lower floor looked untouched. The second floor was all crime scene.

The double doors to the master suite were open, revealing the Kanes dead in their bed. Irwin Kane had been shot through the temple with a small-caliber bullet. Linda Kane took one through the palm of her left hand and into her left eye and brain.

“She heard the first shot,” Sampson said. “Held up her hand to protect herself.”

“At this range, she couldn’t have protected a thing,” I said, feeling disgusted at the callousness of the act. There was no passion here. Quite the opposite.

We went into the other rooms and found Nate, age eleven, and Melissa, nine, dead in their beds. From a few feet away, you would have sworn they were sleeping.

I could not help but think of Ali. Almost the same age as Nate. They could have been classmates. Friends.

“Makes me want to punch a wall,” I said. “It’s just so . . .” “Ruthless?” Mahoney said.
“I was thinking more like cowardly.”
Sampson said, “In what way?”

“Shooting them as they sleep. Probably with a suppressor on the gun. He’s unwilling to acknowledge the humanity of the targets. If they’d been awake, begging, he’d have to see them as fellow human beings. Executing them like this is a way of avoidance, a way to rationalize what is not rational. He doesn’t have to think of them as a mom, a dad, and two children. They’re just objects.”

“Targets,” Sampson said.
“But why?” Mahoney said. “What does he get out of this?”
I said, “Some thrill, no doubt. Other needs being met. And



“A means to an end,” I said. “A more concrete end than what we’re seeing here.”

“You’re saying these killings are part of a bigger picture?” Mahoney asked.

Before I could reply, Meagan McShane, a medical examiner, came to the doorway. “I’ve got a time of death on the mom and dad. Shortly before three a.m.”

A sheriff’s deputy in protective gear appeared in the hallway behind the ME. “I’m sorry to bother you,” he said. “But there’s some guy out at the yellow tape asking for you.”

“Who’s that?” Mahoney asked.
“He says he’s Thomas Tull. You know, the writer?”

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James Patterson's #1 bestselling hero Detective Alex Cross hunts down a serial killer who targets entire families—and who will next be coming for the Crosses. 
A precise killer, he always moves under the cover of darkness, flawlessly triggering no alarms, leaving no physical evidence.  
Cross and Sampson aren’t the only ones investigating.  
Also in on this most intriguing case is the world’s bestselling true-crime author, who sees patterns everyone else misses.
The writer, Thomas Tull, calls the Family Man murders the perfect crime story. He believes the killer may never be caught.  
Cross knows there is no perfect crime. And he’s going to hunt down the Family Man no matter what it takes.  
Until the Family Man decides to flip the narrative and bring down Cross and his family.