18th Abduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro Read Online (FREE)
Originally published: March 7, 2019
Authors: James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
Preceded by: 17th Suspect
Followed by: The 19th Christmas
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genres: Police procedural, Legal thriller
Joe and I were in the back seat of a black sedan, cruising along a motorway from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The sky was gray, but shafts of light pierced the clouds, lighting up brilliant swaths of tulips in fields along A44. I had never been to the Netherlands, but I couldn’t just open myself up to its charm. We were not on vacation, and this was no holiday.
I’m a homicide cop with the San Francisco PD. I own five pairs of blue trousers, matching blazers, and a rack of oxford cloth button-front shirts. I favor flat-heeled work shoes and customarily pull my blond hair into a ponytail.
Today I was wearing a severe black skirt suit with pearls, heels, and a fresh haircut—the full-court press.
My husband, Joe, a former federal law enforcement officer and counterterrorism operative, is now one of the top risk assessment consultants in the field and works from home. In deference to the occasion, he’d swapped out his khakis and pullovers for a formal gray suit with an understated blue striped tie.
Formality was required.
A case had brought us here, and not just any case but one of monumental, even global significance. We both felt deeply invested in the outcome. My emotions veered between anxiety and anticipation, excitement and dread.
In less than an hour we would be seated in the ICC, an intergovernmental organization with the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international offenses of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
How would the court rule on Slobodan Petrović?
By the end of the day, we would know.
As Joe and I entered The Hague’s International Zone, we saw demonstrators crowding the roadside with signs and banners, chanting. I gathered that they were rallying for human rights and justice for war crimes.
The skies darkened and a fine mist came down, wafting across Oude Waalsdorperweg, the road leading to the International Criminal Court.
Jan, our driver, slowed to avoid pedestrians. The sedan behind us did the same.
Joe was staring out the window, but it seemed to me that he was looking inward, remembering how this had started. He caught my reflection in the glass, turned, and gave me a tight-lipped smile.
I nodded and squeezed Joe’s hand.
“I’ve been looking forward to this. Feels like forever.”
The car swept up to the curb, beside a plaza with steps leading to the compound of square glass-and-stone buildings. Jan got out, unfurled a large umbrella, and opened our door.
The sedan behind us stopped, and the two prominent attorneys from San Francisco got out, put up their umbrellas, and helped Anna Sotovina, a woman of forty-five and our friend, out onto the pavement. The five of us walked quickly up the stairs and across the plaza toward the entrance.