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Jeffery Deaver

  He's the suspense star behind the new 007 thriller . . . and a "Best Novel of the Year" award-winner from the International Thriller Writers organization. Here's what the masters of the genre say about his novels . . .

  "Superior . . . harrowing."

  --James Patterson

  "Scary, smart and compulsively readable."

  --Stephen King

  Great crime fiction from bestselling author

  Jeffery Deaver,

  who "stokes our paranoia" (Entertainment Weekly) and delivers a "thrill ride between covers" (Los Angeles Times) every time . . .


  "Nonstop deceptions, reversals, shocks, and surprises. . . . Breakneck action [for] fans of Deaver's fiendishly clever suspensers. . . . His most successful thriller in years."

  --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Ingenious. . . . Tension-filled. . . . A compelling contest between two cunning opponents. . . . Will have Deaver fans sitting on the 'edge' of their seats."

  --Library Journal

  "A fine thriller. . . . A compelling story."


  "Deaver unveils some nifty new tricks in this edge-of-your-seat thriller. . . . Corte is an exciting new weapon in the author's arsenal of memorable characters."

  --Publishers Weekly

  Edge is also available from Simon & Schuster Audio

  From his "simply outstanding" (San Jose Mercury News) Lincoln Rhyme series


  "Sterling. . . . Not even the brilliant Rhyme can foresee the shocking twists the case will take in this electrically charged thriller."

  --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Deaver, master of the plot twist, does his usual magic. . . . Another winner."


  Two pulse-pounding novels featuring investigative agent Kathryn Dance


  Chosen as a Hot Summer Thriller on!

  "Deaver's got the world of social networking and blogs down cold. . . . That dose of realism adds a fresh, contemporary edge."

  --David Montgomery,

  "The techno-savvy Deaver . . . has one of those puzzle-loving minds you just can't trust."

  --Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times "Clever and twisted. . . . Don't miss this one."

  --Library Journal


  "[An] intricately plotted thriller. . . . A dazzling mental contest."

  --Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times "The chase is on, and so are the surprises."

  --Sacramento Bee

  The award-winning bestseller from the "grand master of the ticking-clock thriller" (Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Spider Bones)


  Named "Best Novel of the Year" (2009) by the International Thriller Writers organization "A tour de force. . . . The suspense never flags. . . . Deaver has no rivals in the realm of sneaky plot twists."

  --Kirkus Reviews

  "Hurtles along at 100 m.p.h. . . . An edge-of-the-seat read."

  --Sunday Express (U.K.), 4 stars "A thrill-a-minute wilderness adventure."

  --The New York Times

  "Very engrossing. . . . The biggest twist of all, you'll never see coming."

  --Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) "Deaver is such a good puppet master that he makes us believe whatever he wants us to believe . . . without telling us a single lie. . . . It's not until we're well more than halfway through the book that we even begin to suspect that we might have made some dangerous mistakes . . . but by then, it's way too late, and we are completely at Deaver's mercy."

  --Booklist (starred review) "He makes the characters live and breathe. . . . Read this and no country walk will ever be the same again."

  --Daily Express (U.K.)

  "Adrenaline-charged . . . keeps the reader guessing right up to the final page."

  --The Times (London)

  Thank you for purchasing this Simon & Schuster eBook.

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  Part 1: Saturday

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Part 2: Sunday

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Part 3: Monday

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Part 4: Tuesday

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72



  'Carte Blanche' Excerpt

  About Jeffery Deaver

  For Shea, Sabrina and Brynn

  June 2004


  THE MAN WHO wanted to kill the young woman sitting beside me was three-quarters of a mile behind us, as we drove through a pastoral setting of tobacco and cotton fields this humid morning.

  A glance in the rearview mirror revealed a sliver of car, moving at a comfortable pace with the traffic, piloted by a man who by all appearances seemed hardly different from any one of a hundred drivers on this recently resurfaced divided highway.

  "Officer Fallow?" Alissa began. Then, as I'd been urging her for the past week: "Abe?"


  "Is he still there?" She'd seen my gaze.

  "Yes. And so's our tail," I added for reassurance. My protege was behind the killer, two or three car lengths. He was not the only person from our organization on the job.

  "Okay," Alissa whispered. The woman, in her midthirties, was a whistle-blower against a government contractor that did a lot of work for the army. The company was adamant that it had done nothing wrong and claimed it welcomed an investigation. But there'd been an attempt on Alissa's life a week ago and--since I'd been in the army with one of the senior commanders at Bragg--Defense had called me in to guard her. As head of the organization I don't do much fieldwork any longer but I was glad to get out, to tell the truth. My typical
day was ten hours at my desk in our Alexandria office. And in the past month it had been closer to twelve or fourteen, as we coordinated the protection of five high-level organized crime informants, before handing them over to Witness Protection for their face-lifts.

  It was good to be back in the saddle, if only for a week or so.

  I hit a speed dial button, calling my protege.

  "It's Abe," I said into my hands-free. "Where is he now?"

  "Make it a half mile. Moving up slowly."

  The hitter, whose identity we didn't know, was in a nondescript Hyundai sedan, gray.

  I was behind an eighteen-foot truck, CAROLINA POULTRY PROCESSING COMPANY painted on the side. It was empty and being driven by one of our transport people. In front of that was a car identical to the one I was driving.

  "We've got two miles till the swap," I said.

  Four voices acknowledged this over four very encrypted com devices.

  I disconnected.

  Without looking at her, I said to Alissa, "It's going to be fine."

  "I just . . ." she said in a whisper. "I don't know." She fell silent and stared into the side-view mirror as if the man who wanted to kill her were right behind us.

  "It's all going just like we planned."

  When innocent people find themselves in situations that require the presence and protection of people like me, their reaction more often than not is as much bewilderment as fear. Mortality is tough to process.

  But keeping people safe, keeping people alive, is a business like any other. I frequently told this to my protege and the others in the office, probably irritating them to no end with both the repetition and the stodgy tone. But I kept on saying it because you can't forget, ever. It's a business, with rigid procedures that we study the way surgeons learn to slice flesh precisely and pilots learn to keep tons of metal safely aloft. These techniques have been honed over the years and they worked.

  Business . . .

  Of course, it was also true that the hitter who was behind us at the moment, intent on killing the woman next to me, treated his job as a business too. I knew this sure as steel. He was just as serious as I was, had studied procedures as diligently as I had, was smart, IQ-wise and streetwise, and he had advantages over me: His rules were unencumbered by my constraints--the Constitution and the laws promulgated thereunder.

  Still, I believe there is an advantage in being in the right. In all my years of doing this work I'd never lost a principal. And I wasn't going to lose Alissa.

  A business . . . which meant remaining calm as a surgeon, calm as a pilot.

  Alissa was not calm, of course. She was breathing hard, worrying her cuff as she stared at a sprawling magnolia tree we were passing, an outrider of a chestnut forest, bordering a huge cotton field, the tufts bursting. She was uneasily spinning a thin diamond bracelet--a treat to herself on a recent birthday. She now glanced at the jewelry and then her palms, which were sweating, and placed her hands on her navy blue skirt. Under my care, Alissa had worn dark clothing exclusively. It was camouflage but not because she was the target of a professional killer; it was about her weight, which she'd wrestled with since adolescence. I knew this because we'd shared meals and I'd seen the battle up close. She'd also talked quite a bit about her struggle with weight. Some principals don't need or want camaraderie. Others, like Alissa, need us to be friends. I don't do well in that role but I try and can generally pull it off.

  We passed a sign. The exit was a mile and a half away.

  A business requires simple, smart planning. You can't be reactive in this line of work and though I hate the word "proactive" (as opposed to what, antiactive?), the concept is vital to what we do. In this instance, to deliver Alissa safe and sound to the prosecutor for her depositions, I needed to keep the hitter in play. Since my protege had been following him for hours, we knew where he was and could have taken him at any moment. But if we'd done that, whoever had hired him would simply call somebody else to finish the job. I wanted to keep him on the road for the better part of the day--long enough for Alissa to get into the U.S. Attorney's office and give him sufficient information via deposition so that she would no longer be at risk. Once the testimony's down, the hitter has no incentive to eliminate a witness.

  The plan I'd devised, with my protege's help, was for me to pass the Carolina Poultry truck and pull in front of it. The hitter would speed up to keep us in sight but before he got close the truck and I would exit simultaneously. Because of the curve in the road and the ramp I'd picked, the hitter wouldn't be able to see my car but would spot the decoy. Alissa and I would then take a complicated route to a hotel in Raleigh, where the prosecutor awaited, while the decoy would eventually end up at the courthouse in Charlotte, three hours away. By the time the hitter realized that he'd been following a bogus target, it would be too late. He'd call his primary--his employer--and most likely the hit would be called off. We'd move in, arrest the hitter and try to trace him back to the primary.

  About a mile ahead was the turnoff. The chicken truck was about thirty feet ahead.

  I regarded Alissa, now playing with a gold and amethyst necklace. Her mother had given it to her on her seventeenth birthday, more expensive than the family could afford but an unspoken consolation prize for the absence of an invitation to the prom. People tend to share quite a lot with those who are saving their lives.

  My phone buzzed. "Yes?" I asked my protege.

  "The subject's moved up a bit. About two hundred yards behind the truck."

  "We're almost there," I said. "Let's go."

  I passed the poultry truck quickly and pulled in behind the decoy--a tight fit. It was driven by a man from our organization; the passenger was an FBI agent who resembled Alissa. There'd been some fun in the office when we picked somebody to play the role of me. I have a round head and ears that protrude a fraction of an inch more than I would like. I've got wiry red hair and I'm not tall. So in the office they apparently spent an hour or two in an impromptu contest to find the most elf-like officer to impersonate me.

  "Status?" I asked into the phone.

  "He's changed lanes and is accelerating a little."

  He wouldn't like not seeing me, I reflected.

  I heard, "Hold on . . . hold on."

  I would remember to tell my protege to mind the unnecessary verbal filler; while the words were scrambled by our phones, the fact there'd been a transmission could be detected. He'd learn the lesson fast and retain it.

  "I'm coming up on the exit. . . . Okay. Here we go."

  Still doing about sixty, I eased into the exit lane and swung around the curve, which was surrounded by thick trees. The chicken truck was right on my bumper.

  My protege reported, "Good. Subject didn't even look your way. He's got the decoy in sight and the speed's dropping back to the limit."

  I paused at the red light where the ramp fed into Route 18, then turned right. The poultry truck turned left.

  "Subject is continuing on the route," came my protege's voice. "Seems to be working fine." His voice was cool. I'm pretty detached about operations but he does me one better. He rarely smiles, never jokes and in truth I don't know much about him, though we've worked together, often closely, for several years. I'd like to change that about him--his somberness--not for the sake of the job, since he really is very, very good, but simply because I wish he took more pleasure in what we do. The endeavor of keeping people safe can be satisfying, even joyous. Especially when it comes to protecting families, which we do with some frequency.

  I told him to keep me updated and we disconnected.

  "So," Alissa asked, "we're safe?"

  "We're safe," I told her, hiking the speed up to fifty in a forty-five zone. In fifteen minutes we were meandering along a route that would take us to the outskirts of Raleigh, where we'd meet the prosecutor for the depositions.

  The sky was overcast and the scenery was probably what it had been for dozens of years: bungalow farmhouses, shacks, trailers and moto
r vehicles in terminal condition but still functioning if the nursing and luck were right. A gas station offering a brand I'd never heard of. Dogs toothing at fleas lazily. Women in stressed jeans, overseeing their broods. Men with beer-lean faces and expanding guts, sitting on porches, waiting for nothing. Most likely wondering at our car--containing the sort of people you don't see much in this neighborhood: a man in a white shirt, dark suit and tie and a woman with a business haircut.

  Then we were past the residences and on a road bisecting more fields. I noted the cotton plants, shedding their growth like popcorn, and I thought of how this same land 150 years ago would have been carpeted with an identical crop; the Civil War, and the people for whom it was fought, were never far from one's mind when you were in the South.

  My phone rang and I answered.

  My protege's voice was urgent. "Abe."

  Shoulders tense, I asked, "Has he turned off the highway?" I wasn't too concerned; we'd exited over a half hour ago. The hitter would be forty miles away by now.

  "No, still following the decoy. But something just happened. He made a call on his mobile. When he disconnected, it was odd: He was wiping his face. I moved up two car lengths. It looked like he'd been crying."

  My breath came quickly as I considered possible reasons for this. Finally one credible, disturbing scenario rose to the top: What if the hitter had suspected we'd try a decoy and had used one of his own? He'd forced somebody who resembled him--just like the elfin man in our decoy car--to follow us. The call my protege had just witnessed might have been between the driver and the real perp, who was perhaps holding the man's wife or child hostage.

  But this, then, meant that the real hitter could be somewhere else and--

  A flash of white streaked toward us as a Ford pickup truck appeared from the driveway of a sagging, deserted gas station to the left and bounded over the highway. The truck, its front protected by push bars, slammed into our driver's side and shoved us neatly through a tall stand of weeds into a shallow ravine. Alissa screamed and I grunted in pain and heard my protege calling my name, then the mobile and the hands-free flew into the car, propelled by the deploying airbag.

  We crashed down a five-foot descent and came to an undramatic stop at the soupy bottom of a shallow creek.

  Oh, he'd planned his attack perfectly and before I could even click the seat belt to get to my gun, he'd swung a mallet through the driver's window, shattering it and stunning me with the same blow. My Glock was ripped off my belt and pocketed. Dislocated shoulder, I thought, not much blood. I spat broken glass from my mouth and looked to Alissa. She too was stunned but didn't seem hurt badly. The hitter wasn't holding his gun, only the mallet, and I thought that if she fled now she'd have a chance to tumble through the underbrush and escape. Not much of a chance but something. She had to move immediately, though. "Alissa, run, to the left! You can do it! Now!"