Alex Cross’s son Ali is an accomplished mystery-solver and #1 bestseller. A crime at a concert near his school sparks his newest investigation, and it gets dangerous fast. Sometimes it’s good to have a father in the detective business. ALEX CROSS is a genius detective. ALI CROSS is following in his father's footsteps. When Ali sees a friend get hurt, he’s the best person to find out who did it. Even if he's only a kid. After all, he’s Alex Cross's son. Solving crimes runs in the family.
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson (June 28, 2021) Pages: 304 pages ISBN-10: 0316500135 ISBN-13: 978-0316500135 ASIN: B08LSD44K8
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James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author. The creator of Max Einstein and Middle School, he founded JIMMY Patterson to publish books that young readers will love. He lives in Florida with his family.
ALI CROSS, WHERE are you???
When I saw that text from my great-grandmother, Nana Mama, I got a bad feeling in my gut. Something told me my perfect day was about to come to a very imperfect end.
“Yo, I think I might have a problem here,” I said, and showed my phone to Cedric.
He gave a low, bad-news kind of whistle. “Uh-oh,” he said. “Tropical storm Nana Mama, moving in quick.”
“Right?” I said. “If she finds out where I am, I’m toast.”
The thing was, I’d told Nana Mama that I was going to be working on a report for school at Cedric’s house that day. But it wasn’t true. I mean, I was with Cedric. We just weren’t anywhere near his house.
We were at the Anacostia Park Music Festival, having an awesome time with our friends. Ruby, Mateo, and Gabe were there, along with Ruby’s best friend, Zoe. And if I’m being honest, I’d say Zoe was about 90 percent of the reason I’d gone AWOL in the first place.
I mean, I’d had crushes on other girls before, but this was the first time I’d ever thought one of them might actually like me back. That’s what you call a miracle. So you could say there was a lot on the line.
We’d already stuffed our faces with cheesesteaks and fried dough, checked out a bunch of different acts, gotten our picture taken in this giant ANACOSTIA ROCKS photo frame, and even sat in on a steel drum lesson.
But none of that was the main event.
“You can’t go now,” Zoe said. “We’re just getting started.”
“I’m working on it,” I told her, as we pushed through the crowd toward the main stage. “What time’s your mom go on?”
Zoe looked at her phone. “Supposedly like an hour ago. But you know how it is.”
I just nodded, like I knew exactly how it was to be the kid of a famous musician. Washington famous, anyway. People kept saying Zoe’s mom, Vanessa “Dee-Cee” Knight, was going to hit the big time any day now. They called her the Queen of Go-Go, which is a homegrown Washington DC kind of music—a little funk, a little R&B, and a little old school hip-hop. It’s not my usual jam, but again, I wasn’t there for the music. I was there for Zoe.
So I doubled down with Nana Mama, and tried to buy a little more time.
Still working on my report at Cedric’s, I texted back. I’ll be home for dinner!
And don’t get it twisted, by the way. I love my great-grandma, big time. But I’m not allowed to cross the Anacostia River without an adult. Not even to go to the park. Which was crazy. I mean, even Ruby and Mateo were allowed to be there, and their family’s way stricter than mine. It was time for Nana to start figuring out I wasn’t a little kid anymore.
“Let me see if I can find out what’s up with my mom’s show,” Zoe said. “Give me five minutes. She’s got to be back there somewhere.”
Zoe pointed to the parking lot behind the stage. It was full of trailers, semis, and RVs, which I think were the dressing rooms. But it was also a restricted area. They had a long line of bike racks set up like a temporary fence to keep people out.
Not that it was going to stop Zoe. Already, she had her hands on that fence like she was ready to sneak over, no problem.
“Why don’t you just go that way?” Ruby asked, and pointed at the actual backstage entrance, where a couple of uniformed dudes were checking IDs. “Just tell them your mom’s headlining. They’ll let you in.”
“Yeah, no,” Zoe said. “I’m allergic to cops.”
The “cops” were really just security guards, but I didn’t bother to correct her. I also didn’t mention that my dad was a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department. Hopefully that wouldn’t mean Zoe was allergic to me, too.
“I got this,” she said. Then she started rapping, right there on the spot.
“Dee-Cee hanging back don’t know where but gonna find out.
“Once she hits the stage gonna rage and blow your mind out.
“Watch me slip the line right on time here I go, yo.
“Quick as that there and back coming at you like a yo-yo.”
“That was awesome,” Mateo said, which it totally was. Zoe had a reputation at school for writing some dope poetry, and she could obviously freestyle, too. I guess it was in her blood, considering what her mom did for a living. Kind of like the way I’m always thinking about police procedure and crime scene investigation. (What can I say? I’m a cop’s kid.)
“Don’t leave before I get back,” Zoe said, and pointed right at me in a way that made my stomach jump. A second later, she’d slipped that fence like it wasn’t even there, cut up between two of those big semitrucks, and disappeared.
I just stood there, watching the spot where she’d been, thinking about that sweet and salty smile of hers. And those gold box braids mixed in with the black ones. And the pink kicks she always wore. Let’s just say Zoe Knight wasn’t the type of girl you could easily miss in a crowd.
“I think someone likes you,” Ruby said, as soon as Zoe was gone. “And I think their name starts with a Z.”
“You think?” Cedric said, and he and Mateo fell on me, knocking me around and giving me a hard time. Not that I minded. Those two are my boys.
“She’s super nice,” Gabe said. “And really pretty, too.”
Gabe’s a little different, but I like how chill he can be, even if he is a typical gamer slash space cadet slash computer genius.
“I just hope Zoe gets back soon,” I told them, because I knew the Nana clock was ticking.
And then sure enough, we’d barely been waiting two minutes before the next text from my great-grandma dinged into my phone.
If you’re at Cedric’s house, why doesn’t his mother know where he is???
“Aw, man,” Cedric said, reading over my shoulder. “That’s what you call bad timing.”
Nana wasn’t playing, either. A second after that, my phone started ringing, with her name on the caller ID. I could practically feel the heat coming off the screen, just looking at it.
Mateo put his arms out, zombie style, and stumbled a few steps. “Nana … calls … must … obey …”
He wasn’t wrong. But I also knew that if I had to leave before Zoe got back, I could kiss my chances with her good-bye. Which was probably the only thing I’d be kissing anytime soon.
“You going to answer that?” Gabe asked.
“Yeah,” I said. I was just putting it off for as long as possible.
But then … everything changed.
I was just about to pick up Nana’s call when a loud bang came from somewhere in that backstage parking lot.
It wasn’t the kind of soft pop you hear sometimes. More like a hammer coming down on a piece of metal, which meant it was close by. Maybe four hundred feet, if I was guessing.
And in any case, I knew exactly what I’d just heard.
It was the sound of a single gunshot.